Category Archives: Rationella

Questions From Readers

Our extended family of notebook fans are always passionately searching for the perfect notebook. I’m often stumped by the questions I receive, so once again, I’m crowd-sourcing the research!

From Q:

Hi, I was wondering if you know of any places selling clear plastic covers for Moleskine Cahier or Volant pocket-sized notebooks? I have a passport cover that will just fit the width, but the height is about 10mm taller than a passport, so the ends stick out.

I have seen places selling artsy covers for Cahiers, but I am looking for a clear one.


Tom asks:

Forty or fifty years ago, whenever I went into a five-and-dime or drugstore, there was a stationery department. In this department there were always the little 6-ring pocket size notebooks. Actually, they usually were in two sizes: those that took 3”x5” pages, and those that took 4”x6”. But there was another variation. Some had the rings on the long side of the notebook, and some had the rings on the short side (the top). Now I am lefthanded, so writing in a small notebook with rings on the left is very difficult, so I always preferred the top-bound small notebook. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the top-bound 6-ring 3”x5” notebooks for at least thirty years, although the side-bound variety is still common. Nowadays, I am forced to use a spiral-bound (top-bound) pocket notebook, which is only marginally satisfactory for my purposes. My question is, do you know of any vendor anywhere in the world that still sells a notebook of the type I desire?


From James:

I’ve been reading Philip Hensher’s book The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting. In the last chapter he alludes to a shop in Geneva that stocks his favourite notebooks but – provocatively – declines to mention the name because he claims the staff are so “up-themselves”. Here’s the footnote quote in full:

I have a succession of notebooks, each about the size of my palm, bound in bright leather so you can’t mislay them about the house, with the perfect addition of an elastic cloth strap to stop the pages from flapping open and, more usefully, allowing you to keep your pen and notebook together and not to have to go delving into your man-bag saying that you could have sworn you had a pen with you. The notebooks are Swedish in manufacturer, and I would tell you where I get them, but the shop in Geneva is staffed by such up-themselves shop assistants that I really don’t think I want to put any more custom their way. Still, their notebooks are gorgeous, well worth it if you find the shop through your own initiative” (page 255)

Well, my initiative is to contact you! Might make an interesting blog post. If you know the answers (shop & notebook) please let me know!

The store could be Brachard, which I only know of via this post at Palimpsest, but no Swedish brands are mentioned.  Rationella and Ordning and Reda are two Swedish brands I’ve heard of. A Rationella notebook is featured in this post.


Pauline is looking to purchase or trade for some limited-edition Field Notes. If you have them, email me and I’ll put you in touch with her:

I am desperately seeking the following and have had no luck whatsoever. I seek a set, a Tattly Hustle set and one sketchXchange notebook.


From Thomas:

I am looking for a sketchbook (no lines, dots, or grids) with the pages made from vellum.

From Jane:

Do you know of another notebook that is the same size and thickness of a Moleskine Volant Extra Small, but that doesn’t have perforated pages? I don’t mind if it’s a little thicker, but I know the Moleskine Volant Extra Small is hardback and too thick/clunky in my pocket.

The Moleskine Volant isn’t actually hardback, so I think she means the extra-small hardcover Moleskine notebooks, which do not have perforated pages. I believe Writersblok had some small notebooks similar to the softcover Volants, but they might have had perforations too. Clairefontaine has some smaller sized staple-bound notebooks that I don’t think have perforations.

From Levi:

I’m working doing some research for a feature film that takes place San Francisco in the starting in 1958 and spans 10 years. One of our characters is a reporter and we would like to have the perfect looking notebooks for him. we should be able to source or replicate the books but I am wondering if you could give us a suggestion as to what the perfect notebooks (he might have different ones throughout the film) would look like. (a photo would be amazing, a brand would also be a great help.)

I was born in 1968, so I only know what I’ve seen in movies and photos, and I think reporters seemed to have pads that were spiral-bound at the top. But I’ll bet some other readers might have more suggestions.

If you can help with any of these questions, please comment! Thanks as always.

Notebook Addict of the Year: Carmen

You might think April is a little early to be declaring a Notebook Addict of the Year. Well, I’m ashamed to say I have been trying to get this post ready for months, so it really should have gone up last year. But I’m not sure it even matters what year it is, because Carmen has to win the prize for notebook addict of the decade, or century!

You know how they say if you really love something, you let it go? That’s how much this notebook addict loves notebooks. She found all these fabulous items while traveling in France and Germany, and she sent them to me, to share with all the rest of you notebook fans. There are so many, I won’t even attempt full reviews of all, but there are plenty of photos below, and you can see larger versions of them on Flickr.


My favorite was the notebook below, from Rationella. I’d seen the brand mentioned online and was very excited to try one– it’s a Swedish brand, though this example was purchased in Germany. It’s got a clothbound cover that makes it similar to the HandBook Journal (shown here in blue), but it’s slightly smaller and thinner, and includes a pen loop. Rationella’s website says their products are produced according to “old bookbinding traditions,” and that comes through in this notebook– it just seems like a really nice, tight, good quality product.


Below is a German notebook, this one slightly taller than the usual pocket Moleskine size, shown next to it for comparison. It’s got deep notches that keep the elastic in place. The colored page edges are a neat touch. Here again, there’s also a pen loop on the edge.


This next one is pretty cool– like some of the notebooks sold by Levenger, it has pages that can be detached and then reinserted, keeping the slim format of a spiral notebook without the bulk added by the usual looseleaf rings of most refillable notebooks.


An attractive black and red journal:


This Le Zippe notebook is another one of my favorites. It can double as a wallet. I just love how different it is from anything else I’ve ever used– funky coloring and materials, and really practical features. I’m not sure how the plastic would hold up to being stuffed with a lot of cards and papers and money, but it would be worth a try!


The slipcased notebook below is interesting– it comes with its own pencil, but it’s a bit awkward to have to take out the notebook and then shake the pencil loose from deep within the slipcase.


This one reminds me of the Xonex notebooks you see in some shops in the USA. It’s a little taller and wider than a pocket Moleskine.


I didn’t realize TeNeues made any journals like this– they have other small notebooks that I’ve seen, as well as calendars and art books– this large notebook resembles a Moleskine, but with an embossed cover and silver page edges. Very snazzy.


Another German notebook, with two ribbon markers.


A slim exercise book, with a little cut-out in the cover


A basic lined notebook from Muji


Another thin exercise book:


A hardcover journal:


The whole pile again:


Whew, that is a lot of notebooks! I’m sure you can imagine how it felt to open a box filled with all these fabulous goodies. A HUGE thank you once again to Carmen– you are truly a notebook queen!