Category Archives: Pocket Dept

Softcover and Single-Signature Notebooks from My Collection

On my “to-do” list for this blog has been a comparison of various notebooks in similar styles. I thought I’d do a post about softcover notebooks, and one about single-signature notebooks, similar to Field Notes and Moleskine Cahiers. So I went rooting around in my collection to find various examples of these styles, but the results were a bit daunting:

softcover and cahier1

Not only did I find a rather large number of notebooks, I discovered that there’s kind of grey area between these two styles, so I ended up arranging them in a sort of continuum of variations, from thicker softcover notebooks, through thinner squared-spine ones, to the thinnest single-signature ones with stitched or stapled bindings.

From left, we have the “The II” notebook bought at Kinokuniya, red Piccadilly notebook, softcover Piccadilly notebook, white Conceptum notebook from Germany, Zequenz notebook, Leonardo pocket journal from Papyrus, Fabio Ricci notebook bought in Turkey, Soundless Soliloquy notebook from Etsy, a notebook bought in a museum shop in Portugal, Book Factory pocket notebook, Rendr sketchbook, Canson XL sketchbook, Daler Rowney Ivory sketchbook, Pocket Dept notebook, Rhodia Unlimited notebook, yellow graph paper notebook with green cloth spine from Turkey, Federal Supply Memorandum book, Moleskine Volant, Rite in the Rain waterproof notebook, Clairefontaine notebook from the early 1990s, slipcased German notebook and pencil from Carmen, another old Clairefontaine notebook, a more recent Clairefontaine notebook, Moleskine Cahier, Banditapple Carnet, Miro journals, fluorescent Field Notes given to me by a reader, white notebook from Deyrolle in Paris, Kikkerland Writersblok notebook, Moleskine Cahier decorated by me with stamps, Noted graph paper notebook from Target, Filou notebook bought in Turkey, Northern Central Co. Memorandum book from the late ’70s/early ’80s, Ink Journal, polkadot notebook from Portugal, black school quaderno from Vickerey, white promotional notebook from, (at this point the order gets scrambled in some of the later photos) black Doane Paper Utility Notebook, pale green Bound Custom Journal Memo, HitList notebook, OrangeArt Tattersall notebook, Artescrita 4-pack from Portugal, boxed Calepino notebooks, Word. notebook, Halaby Aero Flightbook, and Hahnemuhle Travel Booklets. Whew! I thought I had also included one other little graph paper stapled notebook that I bought in Portugal, but I can’t spot it in the photos– maybe it’s buried under there somewhere!

softcover and cahier2softcover and cahier3softcover and cahier4softcover and cahier5softcover and cahier6softcover and cahier7softcover and cahier8softcover and cahier9


And of course this isn’t even all the softcover notebooks in my collection. It’s also worth noting that of all these notebooks, the only ones that have actually been used even partially (other than pen tests for reviews) are the two old black/grey Clairefontaine notebooks and the Northern Central Memorandum book. I have other Moleskine Volant and Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks that I have used, but they weren’t the ones in these photos. I will probably use some of the graph paper and plain paper notebooks in the future. I ended up feeling like it was impossible to compare and contrast the features of so many different notebooks, but almost all of them have been photographed and described in more detail in other posts on this site already.

What’s your favorite softcover notebook?

BookExpo 2014

For my day job, I attend the Book Expo convention every year. A fringe benefit of the show is that I usually manage to spot some notebook vendors and get a look at their new products, but at this year’s show, which occurred last weekend, it was really sparse! Leuchtturm had a colorful corner booth, with their Whitelines collaboration prominently highlighted. Filofax/Letts/Lamy had a shared booth, and seemed to be pouncing on anyone who showed the least bit of interest, perhaps just to keep their samples from being stolen. Moleskine was totally absent, other than their name being permanently emblazoned on part of the Chronicle booth (their distributor). Exaclair wasn’t there, nor was Peter Pauper Press, Cavallini, or Piccadilly– all companies I’ve seen there in the past. Book Expo was where I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks, but this year I didn’t spot a single new or interesting notebook. The only thing that attracted me was the booth of some Italian publisher where I saw that they had a pile of promotional notebooks that they seemed to be giving away. I couldn’t come up with any valid pretext for an actual business conversation with the guy, and was too embarrassed to just walk up and say “hey, can I have a free notebook?” I spotted one other promotional notebook giveaway, from Ingram, the largest book wholesaler. They were offering a notebook that looked like a composition book, but it was a different size, closer to 6×9″, and thinner, with a squared-off spine.

It’s a shame I didn’t manage to photograph these things, but sadly, you’re not missing much! I hope there will be better pickings next year… and in the meantime, maybe I’ll manage to attend the Stationery Show someday. I suppose most notebook companies feel like it’s not worth paying to hawk their wares to the thinning ranks of booksellers and prefer to attend a show with more potential buyers of non-book product. But at least Book Expo is still a fun place to talk about books! They are opening it up to more and more activities for the general public, now called “BookCon,” so if you’re a reader, and you will be in NYC at the end of May next year, you should check it out!

Notebook Addict of the Week: AK

This week’s addict posted the photo below on Flickr, titled “All the Notebooks I Used in 2013”. Looks like Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Pukka Pads, and Pocket Dept, all nicely lined up and labeled. And displayed in a nice almost-rainbow of colors!

See the original at All the notebooks I used in 2013. #moleskine #leuchtturm #journal #journaling #notebook | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Review and Giveaway: Pocket Dept Notebooks

Pocket Dept is a relatively new brand of notebooks. Here’s the description from their website:

Pocket Dept is a line of handy notebooks inspired by vintage stationary and designed to suit every pocket. Each Pocket Dept book is made from the finest writing papers and perfect bound for strength and durability. Designed and manufactured with recycled materials by Art House Co-op in Brooklyn, NY – from our workshop to your pocket.

I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks at the BookExpo convention back in May, and I was immediately smitten. The colors and design are lovely, with the feel of a vintage notebook that might have faded a bit with age. But is their beauty more than skin-deep? (or cover-deep) Let’s take a look at some samples the company sent me to find out…

Here’s the 3 samples I got:


Aren’t those colors fantastic? The sizes shown above are their “Messenger Bag Pocket” size, which is 5.5 x 8.5″, and the 3.5 x 5.5″ “Shirt Pocket” model. They also offer a 6×6″ “Backpack Pocket,” a 4 x 4″ “Back Pocket,” and a 3.5 x 6″ “Front Pocket.” This last, to me, seemed a curious choice– why offer two sizes that differ by only a half inch in height? As far as I can tell, there is no other difference. I guess the 3.5 x 6″ size is becoming more popular– it’s used by Leuchtturm and other brands, particularly German ones, it seems. Perhaps some people are just as passionately in favor of the taller page size as I am passionately against it!

But back to my samples…


The covers have a letterpress printed box with the brand name and a space for your name, the date, and a place. The typography also has a vintage look to it. I do tend to prefer notebooks that proclaim their branding more subtly, but the design is attractive. You’ll also notice that one of the notebooks is in French, which I love. On the back cover, there’s another box with information about the brand and the slogan “a notebook for your pocket.”



The edges are nicely trimmed, with square corners. Everything was nice and square and lined up properly– good attention to quality and detail. The spine is also squared off as they are perfect bound, with the pages glued in rather than sewn in signatures. I’ve pictured the Pocket Dept notebook with a pocket hardcover Moleskine for size comparison, but the Moleskine Volant would be a closer equivalent.

But the binding ended up being my main beef with this notebook. The cover is glued in beyond the edge of the notebook, so to open it, you have to crease the front cover, thereby spoiling its appearance a bit. The spine is pretty tightly glued, so the notebook doesn’t open flat.


The paper inside is slightly greyish– it reminded me of the paper in the Leonardo notebook I reviewed. I wasn’t expecting it to be especially smooth, but it actually feels great to write on and performed well with all my usual pens. Showthrough and bleed-through were less than average. Unlined paper seems to be the only option. None of the pages are perforated.


Each of the notebooks has 35 sheets/ 70 pages, so they are slim and certainly live up to their name of being easy to slide into a pocket. But at prices of $8-12 each depending on size, they’re pretty expensive– you won’t have to worry about your money competing for space in those pockets if you buy a lot of these! I am willing to pay a little more for a well-made notebook, especially one like this where I know I’m supporting a small local business, but that price makes me say ouch. It’s a shame, because I’d buy one as a gift for a notebook lover, but I wouldn’t buy dozens for myself to go through as the kind of everyday jotter notebook that they seem to want them to be.

So, bottom line, the pros are the beautiful design, variety of colors and sizes, and the paper. The cons are the binding that doesn’t allow the notebook to lie flat, and the price. I wish I could give these more of a whole-hearted rave, but I hope the company will come out with other products. I’d personally love to see a hardcover notebook with the same paper and the exterior in these great colors. (In 3.5 x 5.5″, please!)

You can buy Pocket Dept notebooks in a few stores around the US, as well as online from their website. But you can also try your hand at winning one. I’ll be selecting 2 lucky winners to receive some of my samples, from entries received as follows:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Pocket Dept” and follow “@pocketdept” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and the Pocket Dept page, and post something containing the words “Pocket Dept” on my wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Pocket Dept” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday Dec. 9 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!