Category Archives: Places to Buy

Jibun Techo Planner

The Hobonichi Techo has become a cult favorite over the last few years, but it’s not the only Japanese planner system out there. I noticed the Jibun Techo at the Baum-kuchen website:

“JIBUN TECHO will be a good fit for you if you:

–manage your agenda with monthly/weekly but does not need a predated daily page.
–enjoy creating a weekly spread as your life log.
–are in search of a light weight planner to bring with you everywhere.
–LOVE Tomoe-river paper. “

The layouts look elaborate but fun, with a bit more color and more icons than the Hobonichi, which may please people who like a really dense page design. The planner shown above is meant to be used as part of a system, with additional notebooks for “life” and “ideas” that can be tucked in a binder with it.

There isn’t that much information about the system in English, but I found a couple of blog posts with detailed reviews:

Belle Cooper blog

40 and Above

See more at: Baum-kuchen – JIBUN TECHO 2018 [PRE-ORDER]

Grace Coddington’s Smythson Notebooks

Grace Coddington is well known in the fashion world as an editor, former model, and author. Now she’s also a spokesperson for Smythson. Most of the linked article is promoting their various leather bags and accessories, but I loved getting a glimpse of this well-worn address book!

I bought a Smythson address book a long time ago and no longer use it actively, but every time I come across it while rummaging through my collection, I appreciate how classic and iconic their notebooks are. They sure are expensive, though! I don’t remember how much I paid for mine, 20+ years ago, but I remember feeling like I couldn’t afford it at the time. They used to have a whole line of address books but nowadays, they don’t seem to sell them at all, except as refill inserts for other planners– a casualty of the smartphone and social media age, I guess. But they do still sell lots of notebooks and organizers. I kind of want one of these, except that they only seem to come with lined paper, and they’re $75:


 

Back to Grace Coddington, she also has a pretty fabulous set of colored pencils, which you can see  below:

 

I went looking to see if I could find it on Amazon– didn’t see one exactly like that, but these are close. I hope I win the lottery so I can buy one!!

 

Read more at: Travelling With Grace Coddington – Smythson Travel

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.

Denik Notebook - 1Denik Notebook - 2

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.

Denik Notebook - 3Denik Notebook - 4Denik Notebook - 5Denik Notebook - 9

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??)

Denik Notebook - 10Denik Notebook - 6

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.

Denik Notebook - 7Denik Notebook - 8

 

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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Nomad Notebooks: Kickstarter Ending Soon!

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that is ending on October 13, 2017: Nomad Notebooks. They still need about $9k to make their goal (as of this writing) and I hope they make it! The project involves the tried and true formula of 3-packs of pocket notebooks, but with a couple of twists: the notebooks are made of a mixture of papers, with different themes for each pack. They started out using repurposed papers, and will be launching 3-packs with a Sea/Air/Space theme, Graph paper theme, and Planner theme.

 

Repurposed:
nomad repurposed

Sea:
nomad sea

Air:

nomad air

Space:

nomad space

Graph:

nomad graph

Planner:

nomad planner

The other twist is that they have angled corners– that part isn’t really a positive for me, but it does mean they’ll be easier to slide into leather covers, which are also part of the Kickstarter.

nomad 3 setnomad leather cover

 

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Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketchbooks: They’ve Changed!

I have mentioned the Pen & Ink Sketchbooks from Art Alternatives many times on this blog. Their pocket size sketchbook with the heavyweight paper is the closest alternative I’ve found to a Moleskine Sketchbook, for those who prefer creamy smooth paper, as opposed to the brighter white, toothier paper found in many other competitors’ pocket sketchbooks (such as Hahnemuhle, HandBook Artist Journals, Leuchtturm, and Art Alternatives’ Sketch & Draw). Check out my “Four Notebooks Reviewed” series from several years ago for a detailed comparison.

I’ve used a few of the Pen & Ink sketchbooks over the years and they never seemed to change much– even their packaging was the same… until now. While trying to meet a minimum for free shipping at Blick, I decided to throw in a couple of these sketchbooks, but I got a bit of a surprise!

Here’s the image for what I ordered:

 

But here’s what I got:

I couldn’t care less if they change the design of the paper band, and in fact the new branding is quite attractive, but I was horrified to see that they’ve changed the construction of the notebook itself to the diagonal elastic that Art Alternatives has used on their Sketch & Draw line for a while. (See my Sketch & Draw review).

I didn’t like the diagonal elastic on the Sketch & Draw, and I don’t like it on the Pen & Ink. Very disappointing update– I wonder if they’ve changed anything else about the notebook, but I haven’t even taken the shrinkwrap off to investigate.

Jet Pens has updated their product image, so they are selling the new version. Amazon still has the product images with the orange bands, but like Blick, they may actually have stock with the new design, since the UPC codes are the same. If you order from them, you’re taking your chances, but since the listing says there are only a few units left, maybe it’s from older stock with the orange band and vertical elastic? (The product descriptions have been wonky on Amazon for years– there is a disconnect between the image and the actual paper weight. This listing seems to be the medium weight sketchbook with 192 pages of 54lb paper– don’t buy it unless you want the lighter weight paper comparable to a regular Moleskine. This listing has the same product image, and references 54lb paper, but the title says “heavy weight” and the customer Q&A indicates that the description is wrong and the product is actually 92 pages of 110 lb paper, similar to the Moleskine Sketchbook paper weight.)

The price on these at Blick is just fantastic– currently $5.69 for the pocket size sketchbook. And their customer service department was great about resolving my issue of not wanting this version of the product. It’s not like I desperately need more sketchbooks anyway, but I can’t help being sad that they changed these! I’ve ordered one on eBay that seems to be the old design, just because, well, you know…

Let us know in the comments if you’ve recently seen stock of the old design, or if you’ve tried the new ones!

Worst Notebook Story Ever!

I love notebooks a lot, but there’s no notebook worth fighting over to the point of pulling out a gun! Some Walmart shoppers got a little too aggressive looking for back to school bargains in the notebook aisle!

 

Read more: Gun pulled in fight between back to school shoppers at Walmart in Michigan

Phil’s Stationery, NYC

Phil’s Stationery is a gem– assuming you like messy, dusty, old-school office supply stores, that is! I’d never heard of it until a few weeks ago when I happened to meet someone for lunch nearby and saw this amazing sign:

phil stationery - 1

There are so few stores like this left in NYC, especially in what must be a pretty expensive location on 47th St. not far from 5th Avenue. I didn’t take any photos inside the store, but as you walk in, there are large displays of Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks, as well as a counter with pens. As you go further back into the store, there are also racks of Moleskines and Filofax, and shelves with a wide variety of other notebooks, ledgers, pads, pens, etc. The further back you go, the messier it gets– there are shelves with all sorts of random products jumbled around. It has some of the same time-warp quality as the Montclair Stationery store I wrote about in this post.

I only bought one thing:

notebook

I haven’t bought a spiral bound notebook like this in years, but I couldn’t resist! What brand is it? Where is it made? It’s a mystery, as there are no markings on it other than what you see on the front cover. Some other colors were also available. And the price was right: $1.09, including tax!

Moleskine Monday: My Collection

I haven’t done many Moleskine Monday posts lately… and it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my stash of spare Moleskines. For those who haven’t read other posts where I’ve talked about how I feel about the Moleskine brand, here’s an abbreviated version:

Late 1990s/early 2000’s— not too long after Modo e Modo introduces them, I start seeing Moleskines in stores, and receive a pocket Sketchbook as a gift. It re-awakens my slightly dormant notebook fetish and I start using them for occasional notes and drawings. But I’m not totally obsessed because I’m still really into Palm Pilots. During this period I think I once bought 2 sketchbooks while on a 3-week business trip, and it made me feel like a crazy hoarder.

Mid-late 2000’s— the softcover Moleskines are introduced and for some reason, I fall head over heels in love with the pocket size squared softcover. It’s the first notebook I’ve truly filled from cover to cover. I start this blog and allow myself to wallow in full-on notebook adoration. (Palm Pilots are over, the iPhone isn’t as exciting, and I turn back to notebooks to satisfy my life-long need to fondle something small and rectangular.) My love affair with the softcover fades, but I am using and buying lots of hardcover Moleskines and other similar notebooks such as Piccadilly, HandBook Artist Journal, and the many others I’ve written about here. The Moleskine brand has exploded. They’re everywhere. They’ve become a bit of a cliché, perhaps, but I still love them. I settle into a habit of simultaneously using a pocket squared or plain notebook for daily list-making and journaling, and a pocket sketchbook for drawing and watercolors. (My other routine notebook is a small Moleskine cahier or Field Notes that I use for my French class.) At some point during this period, they stop putting the Modo e Modo name on them, and start using only “Moleskine” in all their branding. They also change their US distributor from Kikkerland, who used to be mentioned on the packaging, to Chronicle, who is not. At this time, I maybe stockpile half a dozen Moleskines, a few Piccadillies, and a couple of HandBook Artist Journals.

Early 2010’s— Moleskine’s rapid growth seems to have led to declines in quality and changes in how they’re made. They are introducing new products at a dizzying pace and focusing more on bags and wallets than notebooks. There’s too much cover overhang, they’re less refined, the paper is thinner– they’re just not as nice. But there still isn’t any other brand that quite meets all my preferences for daily notebooks. When I buy Moleskines in a store, it’s only after inspecting them very carefully to see if they are good ones. Sometimes I find older stock from batches that were better made. I would guess that at this point, I might have hit about 20 unused Moleskines stashed for future use.

Mid- 2010’s— I can’t find good Moleskines in stores anymore.  I have to send in quality complaints about a couple of notebooks ordered online– the company sends replacements, but they aren’t much better. I’ve had it. In February 2014, I post Moleskine Monday: I May Never Buy a New Moleskine Again. But I also turn to the internet and start searching for older stock that still has the Modo e Modo name on it, and once in a while, I hit the jackpot, especially on eBay. I quickly realize that I can only buy Moleskines if I see a photo of the actual notebook, not a standard product shot which may be out of date. Whenever I see the older-looking belly-bands (someday I’ll do a post on how their design has evolved over the years), I snap them up if I can get them for a less-than-outrageous price. I start building up my stash of spares, which by August 2014 includes 37 assorted Moleskines that I would potentially use as everyday notebooks/sketchbooks. After a while, it’s grown quite large and I start trying to track my inventory in a spreadsheet, but I don’t do a great job keeping it up to date. Last time I updated the spreadsheet, the total count was 132. I decide to cut back a bit on my eBay browsing, as I’m running out of room to store all my notebooks!

Now— below are some photos of my stash, which is stored in shoe boxes, some under-bed plastic boxes, and in piles on shelves. Whenever I look at some of the really nice old ones with their perfect corners, I get all pissed off all over again, knowing that somebody once figured out how to make the perfect notebook and then they turned it into crap!

 

I also had a whole drawer-full in my office, until I started working from home. I’m counting just my actual Moleskine branded notebooks for the purposes of today’s post, though I also have a bunch of similar non-Moleskine notebooks earmarked for potential daily usage someday (as opposed to things that are fun to have in my collection, but not planned to be used). Here’s the count:

56 pocket sketchbooks. (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

55 pocket squared (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

12 pocket plain

30 pocket ruled (I normally don’t like ruled notebooks but on a couple of occasions I bought large lots of mixed paper styles. Since they are old ones with good paper and good overall quality, I’m willing to use one occasionally just to stretch out the lifespan of my inventory.)

Other pocket size: 1 storyboard, 1 music, 1 info book, 1 plain softcover, 1 address, 2 Japanese album, 2 ruled reporter, 1 squared reporter

Large size: 1 Voyageur, 1 large sketchbook, 1 large squared

I have not counted any “cahier” or Volant thin notebooks, as I have a few of those mixed in with various Field Notes and other similar stapled or stitched-spine notebooks. But the quantity is very small, just a few I’ve been given.

A few of the sketchbook, squared and plain ones are more recent models that I will use as a last resort. The info book is all crooked and defective, and I’m not quite sure why I’m even keeping it. But the count ends up at over 166 Moleskines, over 150 of which I am likely to potentially use on a day to day basis. (I haven’t counted the sketchbook and squared notebooks I am using now, or any of the dozens I’ve already filled.)

So… I know I’m a little crazy. My partner, who has to live with notebooks constantly arriving in the mail and taking up way too much of our limited space, definitely thinks I’m a little crazy (but also knows there are far worse vices). But the question remains, is it enough? 56 sketchbooks divided by 3 a year is a little less than 19 years, and I’ll only be about 67 years old at that point. The squared ones, if extended with the plain and ruled notebooks, will last up to 32 years, when I’ll be 81. I can probably ease off buying any more of those (unless I spot any really good cheap ones!) but I think I’m allowed to buy some more sketchbooks. Yay!

 

The Captains Log Kickstarter, Ending Soon!

I lost track of the news about this Kickstarter project in my email inbox, but it’s ending very soon, at Thu, July 20 2017 8:26 AM EDT. They only need about $1500 more in pledges as of this writing. It looks like a cool concept and a quality execution, with formatted pages that provide inspiration and structure for outlining your goals, helping to break down the tasks to get you there, and tracking your progress. The design has a classic look– from the photo below, I first thought the colors were blue and red, but they are brown and black. I love the anchor logo!

You can see more details at the Captain’s Log Kickstarter page.

 

Panobook Notebook

Here’s an unusual notebook format: 160 mm x 288 mm, 100 pages, dot grid– meant to fit in front of your computer keyboard. Of course you can also rotate it so the wire-o binding is at the top. I like the idea that it will lie flat on your desk, but as the illustration shows, there may be a tendency not to write across the whole width– it’s being used in two columns, more like having a smaller notebook opened to a page spread. Either way, this is something I could see myself using in my office. And here’s a nice touch– each notebook comes with a slipcase on which you can write the date/subject.

This is a Kickstarter project that has already far exceeded its funding goal. The minimum pledge to get a notebook is $20.

Via: Panobook Notebook — ACCESSORIES — Better Living Through Design

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