Category Archives: Giveaway

Denik Notebook Review & Giveaway

Today I’m finally doing a long overdue review of a Denik notebook. I’d first noticed this brand quite a while ago, due to their colorful point of purchase display, which I saw first at a booth at either the BookExpo convention or the NY NOW Gift Show at the Javits Center, or perhaps in a store in Brooklyn, I forget which. But wherever it was, the display was hard to miss due to the broad array of vibrant cover designs. I was thrilled to receive a free sample to review from Denik.

The Denik brand is all about creativity and activism. Their ever changing assortment of designs come from artists of all types. A portion of the proceeds from each notebook purchased goes to either the artist who designed the cover or to building schools around the world. Learn more here.

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The sample I received is one of their softcover notebooks, with a cover design by Katrina Houskeeper. The size is 5.25 x 8.25″, with 75 sheets/150 pages. It comes shrink-wrapped, and underneath, has an attractive grey-shaded cover with gold-stamped “Crazy Ideas” logo. The cover material is a soft feel to it and is said to be water resistant. The design continues on the inside front and back covers, which I love.

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The notebook is perfect-bound, so it does not lie flat– but I got this sample a while ago and Denik has since changed their construction to smyth-sewn and describe their softcovers as “lay-flat” so they have addressed that issue– yay! (They still say the page count is 150, which I’m trying to figure out, since I thought sewn signature notebooks always had page counts in multiples of 4. Maybe they glue in one extra page??)

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Inside, there is lined paper, which feels pretty average to the touch, not overly smooth, but gives a really nice gliding feel with most pens. Show-through is about average, and bleed-through slightly better than average. Some fountain pens feather a bit. Unlined paper is also available, and they also offer leather bound sketchbooks, and spiral bound notebooks and sketchbooks.

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At $11.95, the softcover notebook is maybe a teensy bit on the high end of reasonably priced, but I think that is OK given that it is made in the USA and benefits good causes. If you love collecting notebooks with colorful, unique covers, you’ll want to give these a try. You can find them at many retailers, or order online at the Denik webstore, or you can enter the giveaway for some prizes provided by Denik! We are giving away 5 Notebooks, one each to 5 different winners!

For this giveaway, the entry rules are a little different, so please read the instructions below carefully. I have just launched a Notebook Stories account on Instagram, so this will be my first Instagram giveaway!
To enter:

  • Follow @shopdenik on Instragram
  • Follow @notebook.stories on Instagram (make sure you have the “.” in there, as “@notebookstories” without the “.” is someone else!)
  • Tag a friend in the comments on my Instagram post about Denik. You can better your chances of winning by tagging more of your friends. Please keep it to one tag per comment.
  • You can also enter by posting a comment on this blog post with your Instagram account name, but you must be following @shopdenik and @notebook.stories in order to be eligible to win.
  • The deadline to enter is Friday October 20, 2017
  • You must be in the US to enter.

Winners will be announced within two weeks after the end of the entry period. Thanks and good luck everyone!

 

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Random Giveaway Winners!

So many great responses to this post! I loved hearing from you all. I decided to increase the number of winners from 5 to 7! Here are the winning comments:

# 8 Judy H:

First, being in Helena, MT there is not much ‘shopping’ for notebooks here. So I read to find out what I am missing and need to go online for. Second, it’s genetic. I’m a notebook junkie, so are my daughters and now my 4 year old grand daughter is joining in. Third, I use them for everything from a diary, scrapbook, idea and wish books, keep lists. You name it, I’ll put it in a notebook!

#23 Shelley:

I love your blog because of your reviews. I love to write, i.e., I just love the feel of a good pen on good paper and your reviews have helped me select notebooks to buy that I know will work with the pens I own. I use notebooks for everything-a collection of quotations, a collection of hand-lettering samples, a pocket notebook that I use as a doodle and zentangle pattern library, two mini notebooks that I carry in my purse to work on when I am stuck in a waiting room (one for 6 Word Stores and one for Haiku), a notebook with samples from all the pens I own, a journal for daily entries, a journal used as a Commonplace book, and a Kickstarter journal that will arrive soon that I will use as a bullet journal (a new project for me).

#34 Michael Buttry:

I read your online journal for various reasons, but mostly because like notebooks. As a former small press operator and before that, a Navy brat, paper was the way to record data, draw pictures, and make notes of what’s going. Now at 63ish, I find them more reliable than smart phones and just easier to operate; pencil, pen, notebook and done. Now if I could just find a candle that smells like a stationary store, I’d be happy.

#29 Tamra:

I read your site because I like to know I’m not the only one out there with this obsession. I also enjoy seeing what others use their notebooks for.

A new notebook: it stimulates all the senses… I’m not a snob, although I love a high-end tooled leather notebook, a marbled composition book will do nicely. I love them all, the slip-slide of the cover as I slide my hand across it’s surface, shiny perfection or tooled leather perfection, I love them both. The crack the spine makes the first time the notebook is opened, the creak of the pages as that new notebook smell wafts out – to me, better than new car smell! The pages, lines, graphed, dotted or plain waiting for my words, lists, sketches and doodles beckon me… What will this book be? What does it’s future hold?

I have books of lists of trips and places I dream of, destinations to go and see. Books of memories past, present and what is to be. Books of authors and books and music that inspire me. Poems and phrases that flit through my mind that haven’t yet found their permanent home. Books of sketches and doodles of my dreams and thoughts. Sketches and doodles of, well, nothing at all. But all these notebooks are important to me.

#26 Amber Marie:

I’ve been following this blog for a few years now, a regular website I frequent. I’ve been a longtime journaller/journalist, starting at the age of 13. I’m 25 now and my writing has yet to slow down.

I love the physical aspect of flipping to a new page in a fresh journal, figuring out which pen would work best for which entry, lining up spare pens and maybe an extra notebook for a particularly juicy entry, and letting it all flow. I feel naked leaving the house with anything less than 3 notebooks and 6 pens. I’m always observing and watching my surroundings, jotting down anything relevant I see. The freedom of being able to express myself without being embarrassed of my thoughts is a great feeling.

One of my favorite aspects of this site is the Notebook Addict of the Week. I think it’s fascinating to see other peoples uses for their notebooks, and the different brands that work best for different people. No two notebooks are a like, just as the people who use them. I’ve been meaning for a long while to post my own collection to the site, and it’s all about baby steps. First a comment, then a collection, then more and more.

Notebook collecting is a beautiful addiction and I am proud to belong to a great community of like minded individuals. Thank you so much for this website!

#22 Van H.:

I love notebooks and always have. I still remember the first one I bought for something other than school. I was 10, and it had a stylized, colorful soccer ball on the front. I planned to write a ninja story inside – wrote three words, and became irreparably intimidated. I switched to plain notebooks after that, which I filled with abandon. By 8th grade I carried a stack of 10 notebooks (each with its own pencil jammed in the spiral) on top of my trapper keeper, each one for a different purpose (none for school), and the stack constantly slid off my desk and fell all over the floor. By 9th grade I cut back to a couple 3-subject notebooks at a time. In 10th grade I stole two notebooks from a friend. One was blank, and one was full of her writing, which I returned after reading it, but kept the blank one (she never mentioned it). I am haunted by this to this day, but I still have the same impulse whenever I see someone with a notebook. I want to know what’s inside. I love this blog because it simultaneously satisfies and feeds my curiosity about blank notebooks and filled notebooks alike. I’ve read this blog for years and have never found anything else like it, that tells me exactly what I want to know about the notebooks featured here. I was even once featured on this blog for my trunk containing nearly 100 spiral notebooks filled during high school (none with schoolwork) – a number of years ago. Sadly, over time I have cut back on my accumulations of both blank and used notebooks–I give away what I can’t use and discard what I no longer want to save–but I love notebooks no less for my now-relaxed stance on hoarding. There’s no point in trying to analyze it; there’s nothing like a good notebook.

#7 Dan:

When my Mom died and we were cleaning out the house, we found dozens of notebooks, often just fragments, of poems, daily events, medical records and notes and sometimes pictures that we didn’t know about and events in her life she never talked to us about. I had started keeping travel journals many years ago, and didn’t know that my Mom had kept these notebooks. When Dad found that I was keeping a journal and travel notebooks, he told me I was just like Mom. Maybe no one will read my journals or see my notebooks. Maybe they are just messages in bottles thrown into the stream of time for some unknowable future.

If you are a winner, check your email inbox for a message from me to arrange shipping of your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Random Giveaway!

It’s clean-out time! Talk to me about notebooks, people. Use the comments on this post, and/or Twitter posts containing “@notebookstories random giveaway” to tell me something about why you read Notebook Stories, why you love notebooks, what you write or draw in your notebooks, etc. I’ll pick 5 favorite responses from entries received before the deadline of Friday July 28, 2017 at 11:59 EST, and the winners will each receive a grab-bag of at least 4 assorted notebooks. Some of these notebooks may have a used page or two where I did pen tests for reviews, but otherwise they will be in new or like-new, usable condition and I’ll try to throw in some unusual items to spice up your collection! Have fun, everyone!

Review and Giveaway: Stillman & Birn Softcover Sketchbooks

I was really excited when I heard that Stillman & Birn were expanding their product line to include softcover sketchbooks, especially when I saw that a pocket sized version was available. There are so many options out there for hardcover sketchbooks, and so many pocket notebooks, but these really fill a niche in terms of offering durability, flexibility, portability, and a wide array of quality paper options. I’m ashamed to say I received samples for review almost a year ago and am only getting caught up now, but better late than never!

I’ve reviewed Stillman and Birn’s hardcovers in the past, see here and here. The softcovers are available in the same paper types– 6 varieties, covering different paper weights, textures, and colors, but different sizes.

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I tested the 3.5 x 5.5″ pocket size portrait versions, of course! They are slightly smaller than a pocket Moleskine. The covers are a smooth material, not at all leather-like but with a leathery-looking pebbly tone, which you can see but not feel. The covers are neutral shades of grey, dark green, dark red and blue, corresponding to the paper type within– greenish for the Delta, with 270 GSM ivory cold press paper; red for Alpha, with 150 GSM bright white medium grain paper. There is nothing imprinted on or inside the sketchbooks except for the Stillman and Birn logo embossed on the back cover.

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The signatures are stitched, and there is a fair amount of glue at the spine, holding the signatures to the cover. The pages open very flat despite the spines feeling a little stiff at first, especially with the thicker papers. After being opened all the way, the covers will stay open for a while but will eventually close most of the way. There is no elastic to hold the sketchbooks closed. No inside pocket or ribbon marker either.

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The papers are up to the same high standard as S&B’s other products, performing well with all sorts of pens, pencils and watercolors. Only the bleediest markers show through much on the 150 GSM paper, and the 270 GSM paper is pretty impervious. Even the papers meant for only dry media held up fine with watercolors. From the outside, these sketchbooks don’t look like fancy sketchbooks designed to be kept forever, but with acid-free, archival quality paper, what you create on the inside should stand the test of time.

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What’s not to love? This is where I thought I’d be saying “well, they are a bit pricey…” but they’re not! The pocket size sketchbooks have a list price of $10.99 and are currently discounted to under $9.00 for some models at Amazon. With so many options in bindings, paper types, sizes and portrait/landscape formats, Stillman & Birn really offers something for everyone!

And I am offering you all the chance to win a free sample! Four winners will be randomly selected from those who enter in any of the following ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing  “@StillmanandBirn” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and the Stillman and Birn page, and post something containing the words “Stillman & Birn” on my wall.

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

And for those who don’t have these other options available to them, you can also enter by leaving a comment on this post.

Since we can have 4 winners, I will pick at least one winner from each entry method above, and each winner will receive at least 2 sketchbooks.

The deadline for entry is Friday June 23 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!

Long Time No Blog!

Life has gotten a little crazy lately and I haven’t had much time to spend on this website. But I have been trying to spend a few minutes each day filling a page of a sketchbook, at least. I can also report that I broke from my recent habit of only keeping one daily notebook and one sketchbook, and started a new single-subject notebook with a pretty big theme: life changes! I am about to change jobs and move, and after the dust settles, I’m hoping to have more time for more writing about other notebooks.

So far the life change notebook has a lot of to-do lists about purging belongings, moving furniture, possible renovations, sketches of floorplans and assorted other envisionings of a different lifestyle. We’ll see if they all pan out! As for the purging of belongings, I’ll be needing to thin out my collection of notebooks, so stay tuned for some random giveaways!

Dreamday Pattern Journals: Review and Giveaway

Dreamday Pattern Journals, from Laurence King Publishing, are another coloring book/journal hybrid, similar to the Coloring Notebook I reviewed a few months ago. Six designs are available, incorporating pages of beautiful patterns backed by blank pages inside a flexibound journal. The range of themes will please any designer or art history buff– from Mid-Century Modern/Scandinavian, to Renaissance Florence. The samples I received are Japanese and Moroccan designs, and Heraldic and Art Deco are also available.

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The 6 1/2 x 9″ journals come shrinkwrapped, with a belly-band that shows some of the designs within. When you remove the belly-band, the cover is free of any branding. Even the barcode sticker is easily removable. The cover is a wrapped flexible material, with a contrasting color printed on the spine.

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The texture of the cover slightly detracts from the intricacy of the pattern if you’re looking at it up close, but that is a minor quibble– overall the cover design is beautiful. The patterned endpapers inside are a nice touch too.

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The first page provides a space to write your contact details, and the rest of the interior 108 pages is the patterned pages and blank pages. The signatures are stitched but the glue on the spine makes it difficult to open totally flat.

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I wondered if the pattern pages would be usable for note-writing– some notebooks that have faint patterns on the pages can be written over without too much visual confusion, but in this case, I think it would be really distracting. The pattern pages are really for coloring and doodling. The paper is of good quality, though, and I found that most of my test pens and markers did not bleed or show through. This means you should be able to truly use the blank pages for writing and drawing and free-form doodling.

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You can buy these on Amazon or in bookshops and art/stationery/gift stores, and at $14.95 they are a decent value and a nice gift. And I have three extra samples that I’ll give away, one each to three lucky winners selected from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Dreamday Pattern Journal @LaurenceKingPub @NotebookStories”, and follow @LaurenceKingPub and @NotebookStories

On Facebook, “like” the Laurence King page and the Notebook Stories page and post something containing the words “Dreamday Pattern Journal” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Dreamday Pattern Journal” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday February 10, 2017 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Review and Giveaway: Coloring Notebook

I’m sure no one has failed to notice the adult coloring book trend that’s exploded over the last few years. Bookstores are jam-packed with them. Many have gorgeous , elaborate designs, but that’s all there is to them: pages to color. For those of us who are always carrying a notebook or journal anyway, the Coloring Notebook provides a way to combine coloring pages with notes and journal entries, all in one package. Let’s take a look at the free sample the makers sent me:

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From the outside, it’s very much in line with other Moleskine-type notebooks on the market, with a few variations: a black cover with elastic closure, back pocket, and a ribbon marker in yellow, which matches the head and tail bands. The back pocket is all paper– no cloth gussets– and feels a little flimsy. The cover has a smoother texture than a Moleskine, and overhangs the page edges by quite a bit. It comes only in the 5.8 x 8.2″ size.

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Inside, coloring pages alternate with free-form space for writing or drawing. Lined, blank and dot-grid versions are available. I tested the lined version.

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There are single page and double page coloring designs, but the coloring pages are always back to back with the lined pages. The lines are not noticeable when you’re coloring due to the dense patterns of the coloring designs. When you’re writing on the lined pages, the coloring designs to show through a bit.

The overall issue of show-through and bleed-through will vary depending on the materials you use. I colored a page with markers and watercolor paints. There was some show- and bleed-through with the markers. The paper buckled a bit with watercolors but was better once dry. At 100 gsm, the paper is not especially heavy-weight, so I wouldn’t really recommend it for watercolors, but markers or colored pencils should work fairly well as long as you have reasonable expectations about the show-through. The images below show the front and back of a colored-in page before I tested writing on the back:

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I didn’t test all of my usual pens, but you can see some bleed-through from the Super Sharpie below. Any showthrough from the other pens is camouflaged by the coloring.

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Technically, this notebook doesn’t offer any more writing space than most actual coloring books– they all tend to have pages that are blank on the back, or maybe have abstract designs on the back, as they want you to be able to cut out and frame your colored pages. If I were creating a coloring notebook, I might add additional writing pages, as I think most notebook users might be likely to use up the blank space before they finished all the coloring pages, but others might disagree. Either way, it would make a nice gift for anyone who likes to color, and prefers the look of a traditional journal.

You can buy the Coloring Notebook for $19.95 at Amazon.

I will be giving away an unused Coloring Notebook to one lucky winner, who will be randomly selected from entries received in any or all of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Coloring Notebook @coloring_ntbk @NotebookStories”, and follow @coloring_ntbk and @NotebookStories

On Facebook, “like” the Coloring Notebook page and the Notebook Stories page and post something containing the words “Coloring Notebook” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Coloring Notebook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday October 28, 2016 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Review and Giveaway: Writersblok 2017 Planner

Writersblok is heading in some exciting new directions lately. I reviewed their most recent notebooks here. Now they’ve expanded the product line to include a planner for 2017. Let’s take a look!

From Kikkerland’s website:

“Keep all of your master plans safe and on schedule with this beautiful recycled leather Writersblok Planner. Back pages feature exclusive subway maps of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, redesigned solely for Writersblok planner. Also includes gorgeous and useful reference sheets. Part of the proceeds from Writersblok goes to literacy programs such as 826NYC in New York City. 826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”

 

The exterior design is very similar to the notebooks– plain black cover, with an attractive removable wrapper with branding info.

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Inside, you get a nice assortment of planner layouts– annual, monthly and weekly, etc., so it should be adaptable to bullet journaling. The layouts are nice and clean, with attractive touches of color.

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In the back, you get some cool bonus material, including a nicely designed weights and measures conversion page.

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There are also a couple pages for key contacts– nowadays most of us keep contact info only in our phones. I’m guilty of that too but keep hearing horror stories of people who lose their phones and can’t remember any numbers when they are trying to meet up with someone, so writing these down is a good habit to get into.

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The transit maps are very cool, although the one for New York is overly optimistic about 2nd Avenue subway– only a small section of it is planned to open by the end of 2016 and the rest of the T line isn’t even funded. But it’s fun to fantasize about how great it will be someday! The other cities included are London, Tokyo, and Paris.

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There is also a world time zone map, but I spotted an error in its color coding– it seems like the key to the GMT offsets is off by an hour, at least based on the places whose timezones I am familiar with. NYC should be -5, not -4. London and the rest of England should be in the 0 zone, not the purple +1 zone. And France, Spain, Germany, etc should be +1. The lines and the numbers on the key are correct, it’s just the colors that are misleading, so the map is not unusable, just a bit misleading. (Kikkerland has said they’ll fix it in next year’s version.)

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A ribbon marker and back pocket complete the package. At 6×8.25″ to match the size of an iPad Mini, and with a lay-flat binding, this will work well both on the desktop or in your bag.

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You can buy the Writersblok planner at a 30% discount off of the regular $20.00 price with promo code NS16 via the ad link in the upper right corner of this site. Or you can try your luck in my giveaway for a free sample! I’ll select two winners from entries received in any of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Writersblok 2017 Planner @kikkerland @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @kikkerland

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Kikkerland page and post something containing the words “Writersblok 2017 Planner” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Kikkerland Writersblok 2017 Planner” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday August 26, 2015 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Note: Kikkerland provided me with these samples free of charge, and are an advertiser on this site, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Review and Giveaway: Flexbook Notebooks

I was very excited when I saw this new brand in my local stationery store (NYC’s A. I. Friedman). I was immediately smitten with the design and intrigued that the notebooks were made in Greece– a new country to add to my collection. After getting in touch with the company, I was happy to receive a lovely assortment of samples to review. Let’s take a look!

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Flexbook notebooks are made in Greece, but sold by a French company called Prat Paris. Inside the notebooks, you get Italian Fabriano paper– talk about European unity!

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The simple design caught my eye– I’ve always liked the look of a cloth-taped spine, and the Flexbook is available in a few different color combinations. The cover itself is a fairly stiff cardboard– I would call this a “softcover” notebook, as it’s not a thick wrapped board, but it’s not floppy or flabby. There is an elastic closure, and subtle embossed branding on the front and back. On the back there is also a round holographic stamp. The label notes “All original Flexbook patented binding products carry the holographic label,” and I have to say I’d rather they’d chosen some other mark of authenticity, or located the holograph on the inside of the cover– I don’t love how shiny and blingy it is against the otherwise very classy and understated exterior.

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The pocket size notebook is almost the same size as a pocket Moleskine, just slightly smaller.

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Inside the notebook, you get plain black endpapers but no inside pocket or ribbon marker. At the front there is a page with branding info and a space to write your name and contact details.

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The binding is indeed very flexible. The notebook opens flat throughout, except on the very first page, which is glued to the endpapers pretty far in. And you can fold the covers all the way around without damaging the spine. However they’ve glued and reinforced the spine, it delivers as promised.

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The 85 GSM paper inside is a creamy white and very smooth. I found it a pleasure to write on and all my usual pens worked well. Fountain pens didn’t feather at all, though they took longer than usual to dry, as you’ll see from my smear tests, especially with the J. Herbin ink in the Lamy. The only pens that bled through were the Accu-Liner and the Super Sharpie. Show-through was about average.

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Blank and ruled versions are available in various sizes. In addition to side-opening notebooks, there are also top-opening pads with perforated paper. A sketchbook version with heavier paper (170 GSM) is also available in 2 larger sizes. Pricing on these is slightly less than Moleskine– list for the 3.5 x 5.5″ version is $12.55. You’re trading better paper for the ribbon marker and back pocket you’d get in a Moleskine, but I think many notebook users will be happy to make that swap. On Amazon, unfortunately, these are priced higher than list from a 3rd party seller. But you can get them at a 10% discount (at least at time of writing this post) at BLICK ART MATERIALS.

I will be giving away a sample Flexbook notebook to each of two lucky winners, who will be randomly selected from entries received in any or all of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Flexbook Notebook @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and post something containing the words “Flexbook” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Flexbook Notebook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday July 15, 2016 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

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Review and Giveaway: Archer Planner

Here’s a new entry in the growing market for highly formatted planners. The Archer Planner from The Active System Co. comes in a 3-pack of stapled booklets. The 3 notebooks are differentiated by the colored block that wraps around the spine, in red, yellow or green, but they are otherwise identical.

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Each notebook is designed to be used as a planner for a single month.  The outside of each notebook has space at the top where you can date and number it. The inside front cover has space for a sort of index of project codes or abbreviations and quick reference notes. Then you get a 2-page month-to-view spread where you can lay out events or deadlines for the month ahead. Then you have a few monthly log pages that have space for notes or sketches, as well as lists for things like “cities,” “restaurants,” “books,” “sports/games,” “people met.”

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Then the main body of the notebook has 2-page spreads, each for one day, subdivided into spaces for tracking all sorts of things. You have slots for appointments– these are numbered rather than broken up by specific hours, which will work well for people who don’t keep 9-5 hours. Some of the suggested items for logging are rather amusing, like “hair” in a section with circles to tick to rate each item from worst to best. There’s also a box for “vices,” to force you to track your consumption of cigarettes or alcohol or worse! Other items are more typical– expenses, meals, weather, action items.

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At the end of the book are a couple of blank pages for notes, and a page where you can recap the past month with some prompts.

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The design of the notebook is really nice– very clean and straightforward. It seems uncluttered despite having a lot of items on each page. The 6×9″ size is lightweight and portable while being large enough to lay out on a desk and fill with lots of daily items.

The paper used inside is a bright cool white. It feels great to write on with fine point gel ink pens– but these and pencils may be the only pens you’d want to use– I found that many of my other pens bled through. Even my pH test pen bled through, which I don’t recall seeing on any other notebook! But other than that, showthrough was average with the pens that didn’t bleed.

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This system will undoubtedly work well for some people but not others. I like the idea of being prompted to log certain things, but for my personal needs, the formatting would be overkill. The advantage of a totally blank page is that each person can use as much space as they need for the things that matter to them– once you’ve got lots of boxes to fill, the ones that are irrelevant to you will just be wasted space. But if you really want to log your life in great detail, there’s not much that this notebook leaves out!

My only other complaint was the number of page spreads. There are 20 2-page daily planning spreads per notebook. The makers say that is enough for a month’s worth of working days, but what about weekends? If you are committed to tracking your hair and meals and exercise, etc, why would you only want to do that on weekdays? And a 31 day month would have more than 20 weekdays. And if you are going to use a monthly planner booklet, it’s probably easier to have one notebook per calendar month rather than having to start a new one a few days before the end of the month because you ran out of pages.

I couldn’t help comparing this to the Moleskine Color a Month Planner that I reviewed several years ago. Monthly planners are nice when you don’t want to carry around the bulk of a whole year’s worth of daily pages, but they work better as log books rather than forward-looking planners where you’ll have to copy a lot of stuff forward into the next month’s booklet. The Archer notebooks will probably work better for backwards-looking logging unless your career and life are more ruled by short-term planning than longer-term scheduling and appointments. Given that they have included a feedback page at the back of each booklet, I hope the makers (who sent me these free samples to review) are considering improvements and updates that might address some of these concerns.

You can buy the Archer planner 3-packs at Amazon. And if you want to try one out, you can also enter my giveaway! Two lucky winners will be randomly selected and each will receive one Archer notebook. Enter in any or all of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Archer Planner @theactivesystem @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @theactivesystem

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Active System page and post something containing the words “Archer Planner” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Archer Planner” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday April 15 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.