Tag Archives: amazon

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!

Moleskine Monday: Six-Packs at Costco

Tipster David B. sent me the photo below of Moleskines for sale at his local Costco:


These are 6-packs of 10 x 7.5″ lined cahiers in assorted colors. At $19.99 for six, it’s a pretty good deal– the full retail price is normally $19.95 for a 3-pack of this “extra-large” size, though you can also find some decent discounts on Amazon.

Happy Thanksgiving… and Black Friday!

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! Hope it is full of family, friends, fun, and feasting before you start thinking about shopping… but once you do… here’s a few gift ideas for your favorite notebook addict–perhaps yourself!

Brice Marden Notebooks: I posted about these recently, but hadn’t yet received my own copies of the facsimile notebooks. They arrived yesterday so now I can tell you firsthand that they are fabulous! A really cool glimpse at an artist’s jottings and other ephemera pasted into his sketchbooks from the 1960s.

Jean-Michel Basquait: The Notebooks: another interesting facsimile artist’s notebook.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, by Lynda Barry. Another facsimile composition book that I’ve posted about before. You can get lost in these pages for hours, and there are practical lessons for creativity too.

uni-ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Pens, Ultra-Micro Point, Black Ink, 4-Pack

Cheap pens are always a great stocking stuffer– these have the .38mm fine tip that I love, and they’re cheaper than the version sold at JetPens. As far as I can tell, the pen body is different but the refills inside are the same. I also love Pigma Micron pens for drawing. They come in lots of different sizes and colors:

Poetry Is Useless, by Anders Nilsen: Yet another piece of eye-candy with imaginative cartoons and doodles drawn in the pages of pocket notebooks.

For those who aren’t intimidated by a lot of empty pages to fill, how about the Art Alternatives Sketches in the Making Giant Hardcover Sketch Book. It’s 600 pages of 12.5 x 10.75″ paper! Make your own coffee table book!

Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers
Still one of my favorite books about sketchbooks. Always fun to flip through.

Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art
Another fun and inspirational book, with different tips and techniques cross-referenced to the work of different artists.

There are lots of other great books, notebooks, and pens listed in the Notebook Stories Store on Amazon. Happy shopping!

A New Look for Moleskine Diaries in 2011?

I stumbled across this cover image for a Moleskine 2011 Daily Planner on Amazon. Looks like they’re changing the design of their paper bands! From this image it looks like it might not wrap around the whole book any more, but instead just cover the corner and spine. It’s a bit early to be thinking about next year’s planner but it will be interesting to see what the finished products look like!

Super-cheap Moleskine Desk Calendar!

A reader named Jennike tipped me off to another fantastic deal on Amazon, this time on the 2010 Moleskine Desk Calendar, which is currently marked down 81% to $3.74!

Picture 3Picture 2

I can’t say this is my favorite Moleskine product– I think it’s a bit too much of a stretch away from doing what they do best. After all, it’s not really a notebook! But if you love Moleskines and like having a tear-off page-a-day type calendar on your desk, you should snap one up at this great price! The last time I linked to one of these deals, so many people bought them that the price started increasing almost immediately, so don’t delay! And send good thank-you vibes to Jennike for spotting this!
The Days That Count Desk Top Calendar (Moleskine Legendary Notebooks (Calendars))

Moleskine + Kindle2 = Neat-o!

This is very cool, a bookworm’s dream! I wonder if Amazon realized that their re-design of the Kindle would make it the same size as the larger Moleskines!

According to the measurements on Amazon, the Kindle2 is 5.3 x 8 x.36 inches. A large Moleskine is 5.2 x 8.2 x .7 inches. So you’d have to take out about half the paper, and the edge of the Kindle might stick out ever so slightly, but it’s pretty close to a perfect fit. Another idea might be to try it with the large Moleskine Memo Pockets or a Japanese Album (but hey, do they really not make a large Japanese Album???), if you don’t want to make as much of a mess removing the paper.

The only problem with this is that now I really want Amazon to make a POCKET Moleskine-sized Kindle!

Read more at Paradox Place or Moleskinerie.