Category Archives: TeNeues

Notebook Addict of the Week: Jemma

This week’s addict emailed me to share her collection– or at least part of it:

I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now, and my favourite part of it is the Addict of the Week. I always wonder if my collection is actually a bit absurd compared to some of the others, but I think it’s fairly impressive. Sorry about the bad photo quality!
These are all my unused notebooks. I haven’t counted them all but I’d estimate there’s about 150-200 there. I go for bright designs, pretty pages, textured covers and of course, paper quality. My collection includes six TeNeues CoolNotes, two Moleskine sketchbooks, an A5 Miro and dozens of random ones picked up because I couldn’t resist them. I seem to leave the house with no notebooks and come back with at least three. I use them for journals, but also to write character diaries, short stories, novel outlines and each year I use several in my NaNoWriMo attempt.
I love the feel of pen on paper. I have been keeping a journal ever since I was a kid. And every time I feel like slacking in my writing, all those notebooks just look at me reproachfully until I get back into it. I don’t know a better feeling than finishing a notebook and adding it to the other -much smaller- stack. 😀

Wow. That is a pretty amazing stash of notebooks in waiting! Even if the “used” stack is smaller, I’d love to see that too! Thanks for sharing your addiction, Jemma!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Baron Schwartz

This week’s addict blogs at xaprb, where he’s done an in-depth comparison of various notebooks to find the brand that works best for him.

Here are the candidates:

And here are the criteria:

So what do I want?

  • The size. It needs to be large enough to write on easily, leaving readable margins, without wasting a high percentage of the paper. It needs to be small enough to slip into a bag or hold in a hand with several other things; it should be neither bulky nor so small that it gets lost and slides to the bottom and gets all crumpled by other things.
  • The proportions. Too tall and skinny is bad; too short and wide is bad. Something fairly standard is best, like the usual A* paper proportions.
  • The thickness and number of pages. Enough to last a while. Not so many that it’s heavy or bulky in a messenger bag; not so many that if I lose it, a giant chunk of my life and professional notes is gone. There’s always some risk, but it needs to be balanced.
  • The type of cover. Rigid, thick covers waste space and add weight, as well as being difficult to pack in a carry-on bag. Something springy and thin, but substantial enough to help with writing, is best.
  • The binding. I write on both sides of the paper, and it needs to fold open easily and flat, be very durable, and not force me to write awkwardly when I’m writing in the center margin of the left-hand page. It should also not curl awkwardly when I’m near the first or the last page.
  • The closure. I’m not a big fan of elastic closures; they get in the way more than they help.
  • The paper quality. As I said, I write on both sides. It needs to resist bleed-through and be smooth and strong.
  • The ruling. I like ruled notebooks, but can do all right with blank. If there’s ruling, it needs to be pretty narrow. Nothing wastes more paper and annoys me more than too-wide ruling. Any ruling also shouldn’t force or encourage me to leave too much of a margin.
  • The index, table of contents, helper charts, page numbers, and so on. Some of these things are wonderful in moderation; a table of contents and page numbers, for example, are a delight. I can quickly index a notebook after using it, and it becomes immensely more useful for reference. Do I need 12 pages of conversion tables and timezone maps? Not really.
  • The bookmarks or page markers. I prefer a silken ribbon for journals, but for notebooks I actually prefer none; my favorite is these magnetic owl page markers.
  • The design. This is the most subjective and intangible thing of all. The design needs to be professional, a little bit creative, and inspiring. It should make me feel like an artist as well as an engineer. If I may stereotype for a moment, the Germans perhaps err on the side of being too mechanical, the Swiss can sometimes feel as if everything is meant to be a coffee-table conversation piece, and the Americans can be deathly boring. I want something that makes me feel light and nimble, practical, yet … a craftsman, somehow.

Is that really so much to ask?

Read lots more and find out which notebook won at Ultimate notebook and journal face-off at Xaprb.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Anke

This week’s addict is from Holland, and sent this picture of her collection, or rather, part of it:


“I’ve been a fan of your site for a long time and for an equally long time I’ve been wanting to send you a picture of my own collection. What was holding me back was a sense of fear to admit to myself how big the collection actually is. And that with that realisation would come a resolution to stop buying new ones. But then I figured … we all need a hobby, right?
The ones in the picture are all new. I have another collection of used notebooks, but not quite as large as this one.”

Great collection! I spy Rhodia, TeNeues, Oxford, Cambridge, Clairefontaine, Cavallini, Rite in the Rain, Moleskine and others I can’t identify. Thanks for sharing your addiction, Anke, and I hope you’re still letting yourself buy new ones!

10 Notebooks at The Guardian

The Guardian is a consistent source of fun articles about stationery. The latest features 10 of their favorite notebooks. I like this one the best:

See more at Ten of the best notebooks – in pictures | Life and style |

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?

Books (and Notebooks) in Motion

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook and I just love it! Some notebooks and pens make a cameo appearance.

Questions from Readers

Here’s a few questions that have come in lately– I need help from all you other notebook lovers!

From Zack:

I really like taking notes when learning. It helps me map out math in my head a lot better than just thinking about it. I’ve been looking for a good large-sized notebook to write in, maybe around A4 sized paper. Can you suggest some? Cost might be an issue, due to being a student.

There are certainly lots of good options for a notebook this size–Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Doane Paper’s large Idea Journal, Whitelines— but they might be a little pricey for a student budget. What’s your favorite lower-priced notebook?

From Park, a similar question:

Hi do you know of any notebooks that WILL NOT BLEED?  I am an excessive notetaker for school and it is extremely vexing when the paper I am using bleeds… Do you have any recommendations of standard sized notebooks that will not bleed? Thanks!

I’m guessing this means an A4 or 8.5×11″ size notebook since this is for school use. Again, Rhodia or Clairefontaine would be good bets, though a bit more expensive than what most students probably want to pay. If you can use something smaller and aren’t worried about price, I’m sure the Hitlist notebook I reviewed recently wouldn’t disappoint!

From Rowland:

I read something a while ago about a ‘notebook’ which opened out sort of Japanese fashion – but into an A3 size – I think they were made and distributed in Singapore.
Any ideas?

I can’t think of any Japanese (accordion fold-out) notebooks other than Moleskine’s, so I’m stumped… below are some more tough ones!

From Rick:

I use a leather-refillable journal for notes, etc, and I tear out used pages, so I am looking for one that has perforated pages to make a clean tear. Do you know of any that are like that?

From Paige:

Hello! I am a high school science teachers, and I want to recommend a notebook for my students for the upcoming year. I would ideally like something like a composition book (where pages aren’t easily removable) that has lined AND blank pages- maybe lined on the front, blank on the back. I will be teaching Astronomy and Earth science, and the notes will be heavy on drawings and sketches, so I want my students to not feel limited by the lines on the page.

TeNeues CoolNotes and Grandluxe Dialogue notebooks have pages that are lined on only one side, but I doubt these are easy enough to find or cheap enough for most high school students, and they’re smaller than a composition book.


Thanks to all my lovely readers for any help or advice you can provide!

Review and Giveaway: TeNeues CoolNotes

Here’s a notebook that adds a splash of color to your life: Cool Notes, from the stationery and art book publisher TeNeues. The folks there were kind enough to send me some free samples to review and share with some lucky winners.


First of all, don’t you love the colors? The black notebooks are livened up by contrasting elastics, and other nice shades are available such as green, red, and blue.


The size of the pocket notebook is a bit smaller than a Moleskine and most of the other standard 3.5 x 5.5 notebooks out there– this one is about 3.5 x 5″. To me, this is a bit of a drawback, as I really do prefer that golden rectangle ratio, but others may find they like the smaller size. (Interestingly, they’ve just introduced top-opening CoolNotes reporter-style notebooks, and these are closer to 3.5 x 5.5″.)


The TeNeues logo is embossed on the back cover. The cover has a slightly smoother texture than some other notebooks, though you have to look very closely to notice any difference.


The photos above and below display my other major beef with these notebooks– there is a lot of overhang between the cover and page edges. Why do people do this? I find it really unpleasant, and it’s one thing that Moleskine always seems to do better than anyone else– their pages come very close to the cover edges. But again, this is my own personal prejudice and may not bother others. One other thing to note is that these notebooks have a very nice, neatly squared-off spine.


But now we come to the most fabulous thing about CoolNotes– the beautiful endpapers! Crazy colors and patterns that vary with the different color covers and different sizes. They’ve even made the back pocket out of the same pattern! I LOVE this– it’s like having a conservative suit jacket with a bright lining– a fun little surprise!



Inside the notebook, there’s an extensive info page at the beginning, followed by slightly creamy white pages, which are lined on the front, and blank on the back. The lines are finely dotted, and don’t extend to the edges of the page. This is a nice feature for those who often wish to have lined and blank pages for writing and drawing in the same notebook, but you’ll have to be careful what pen you use, as there can be some show-through.




As you can see from the pen tests below, most pens showed through quite a bit, though the paper feels nice and smooth with all of them and I didn’t notice any feathering. The fountain pen I tried seemed to dry fairly fast, and I also confirmed that the paper is acid free.



Bottom line: these might not be for everyone, and I personally won’t be using one as my daily notebook. But they’re well made and nicely designed, so if you don’t mind the smaller size, cover overhang and some show-through, the fun colors and patterns make these a great alternative to some of the more staid notebooks out there.

CoolNotes are available in small, medium, and extra-large, as well as new reporter-style small notebooks and City Journals. Suggested retail prices range from $8.95 to $19.95. They’re available direct from the TeNeues website (where they have lots of other great journals too) or at various stationery stores– unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a retailer listing on the website.

But of course you can also try to win one of the 3 notebooks I’ll be giving away to randomly selected readers who enter in any of these 3 ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing the words “CoolNotes” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and post something containing the word “CoolNotes” on my wall.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday January 7 at 11:59PM, EST.

Winners will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck everyone!