Category Archives: Scribe

My Inventory of Spare Notebooks

As you might imagine, I have a lot of notebooks stashed in various places. I have boxes of them under beds and in cabinets and in drawers. They are at home and at the office. They are pretty much everywhere! Lots of them are old ones that I have used. Lots of them are new ones that I have not used. Because of this blog, I have a number of notebooks that I never intend to use, though I do try to give a lot of those away. But what about the ones that I do intend to use? I had kind of lost track of how many I had squirreled away, so I decided to get a handle on it. Hint: there are a lot!

I am rather anxious about running out of notebooks that meet my criteria for regular daily use. What if they just stop making ones I like? It could happen. And what about Moleskine’s decline in quality? I’ve been so dismayed at the way they make their notebooks now that I’ve been buying up older ones whenever I spot good ones. For a notebook to make the cut as a daily companion, it has to be approximately 3.5 x 5.5″ or smaller, with plain, dot grid or squared paper. It has to feel good to write in, and feel good to hold. I prefer that the cover be plain, but I’m open to variations as long as the overall aesthetics are pleasing. In addition to the “daily use” notebooks, I am also including the kinds of sketchbooks that I tend to use regularly for assorted drawing and painting, which have to be the same size, with sturdy plain paper. (I am not counting larger sketchbooks, which I do sometimes use, but much more rarely, so I don’t stock up on them much.) After going through my various piles, here’s my current inventory of notebooks with potential for daily use and regular sketching:

  • 20 squared hardcover Moleskines
  • 2 plain hardcover Moleskines
  • 15 Moleskine sketchbooks
  • 2 HandBook Artist Journals
  • 36 assorted other hardcover or softcover notebooks from other brands, including Piccadilly, Pen & Ink and others
  • 37 assorted staple-bound or stitched-spine cahier-style notebooks, from brands such as Moleskine, Field Notes, Doane Paper, Calepino, etc.

I was surprised that I only had 2 unused HandBooks left, as I had quite a few of those at one point. But the main thing that struck me after compiling this list is that I need to start using those cahiers more! I tried to use one for household notes like room measurements and furniture measurements at one point, thinking it would be helpful when shopping for some new furniture, but that project sort of fizzled out. I toy with the idea of using these small notebooks for single subjects or projects, or for drawing and doodling. They are lightweight and easy to carry, so I keep thinking I should be using them for listmaking, or for sketching when I don’t want to carry a daily notes notebook plus another hardcover sketchbook. I could even try carrying a few at a time bundled into a Traveler’s Notebook-style cover. I could be stretching out the lifespan of my nice old Moleskines if I used more of these cahiers.

Since I tend to use about 4-6 notebooks a year on average, including sketchbooks, the 75 non-cahier spares I currently have may only last about 12 years, or until I am about 57 years old. God forbid that I run out of good notebooks just a few years before I’m ready to retire!!! And I am very healthy (knock on wood) and have a family history of longevity, so I may need notebooks until I’m in my early to mid 90s. I can’t just say “oh, I’m sure I’ll have enough.” Proper planning is key. If my usage shifted to 2-3 full-size notebooks and 1 cahier a year, I’d be all set for about 30 years, til I’ll be 75. Assuming I keep blogging and paying attention to new notebooks that hit the market, I am likely to add some other acceptable notebooks to my collection during that time, so I may not have a shortfall until I’m even older. It still makes me a little nervous to imagine living out the final years of my life with only inferior notebooks to scribble in… and you always hear horror stories about people’s stuff being stolen when they’re in nursing homes… so I guess I will just have to keep collecting more spare notebooks to get me through!

 

New Homes

… for me and my notebooks! I’ve been posting a little less frequently lately because I’ve been very busy preparing for a move to a new home. My notebooks, of course, are all coming with me, and I’ve been trying to organize them better in the process. For years, I’ve stored them all in shoeboxes, some of which were starting to break down a bit, so I decided to try using larger under-bed plastic boxes. Here’s one of them:

I also got a larger wheeled box for bigger sketchbooks. I’m not sure I’ll stick with this approach– for one thing, all these plastic boxes have angled sides, so they aren’t as efficient as I’d like for storing notebooks. A larger box like this also gets really heavy when it’s stuffed with notebooks! I am always saving shoeboxes so I may end up transferring some notebooks back into newer, sturdier ones, we’ll see… My old apartment had more closet shelves where I could store all my boxes of notebooks, but in my new space, I have to spread them around a bit more– some in a cabinet, some on a shelf, and some under the bed.

Where do you store your notebooks?

Notebook Addict of the Week: The Archer

It’s long overdue that I call attention to this week’s addict, who blogs at Rants of the Archer. Here’s part of her notebook collection:

There are 57 notebooks in that photo. But wait, there’s more! Another 55 notebooks are shown below:

She mentions that some of the notebooks are being used, but I also spy quite a bit of undisturbed shrinkwrap and pristine-looking edges in those piles! But then, whoever said all the fun of notebooks was in using them!

You can read more at I Love Notebooks and I Love Notebooks, Part 2, where you’ll learn that The Archer also collects fountain pens, toys, shotglasses, elephant figurines, and tea bags. I hope she lives in a big house to store all those collections!

Review: Scribe Notebook

Today I’m reviewing yet another variant on the basic black notebook that has become so ubiquitous. This time, it’s the Scribe Plain Notebook.
An initial impression of this notebook might suggest that it’s just like a Moleskine, but I actually found it more similar to the Pen & Ink notebook I reviewed here, or some of the PSN notebooks reviewed here. The cover is a little thicker than a Moleskine, with somewhat more rounded edges. It almost seems slightly padded, and you can see in the photo below that the elastic leaves a slight impression in the cover. The cover isn’t quite as stiff as many other notebooks– you can actually flex the whole notebook a bit while it’s closed, which is pretty much impossible with Moleskine or Piccadilly.

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All the standard features are present and accounted for: paper band, elastic closure, logo stamped on the bottom of the back cover, expanding pocket inside back cover, ribbon marker.

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It opens quite flat. Another detail to note is the little bit of cord edging at the spine (I don’t know the bookbinding term for this, can anyone help me out?) This is also present in the Pen & Ink notebook and the Rhodia Webnotebook.

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As for the paper… despite the 80 GSM weight, it feels a bit thin and pens show through more than in some other comparable notebooks. The Uniball Vision Micro and Pilot Varsity fountain pen feathered slightly.

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Other fountain pen users have also commented that the Scribe notebook isn’t ideal (see here and here)– the experience of writing in them may feel nice at first, but the bleedthrough is problematic. But other than that, this is quite a nice notebook, and the slight flexibility might make it a favorite for those who like to carry their notebooks in a back pocket.

Specs:

3 1/2 x 5 1/2″, though the cover says A6

96 pages, 80 GSM paper

I’d like to thank Marian at Scribe for sending me a sample, since these notebooks are only sold in the Philippines.