Tag Archives: grandluxe

Review and Giveaway: New Monologue Notebooks

I’ve reviewed Monologue notebooks from Grandluxe a couple of times on this site, and I’m always happy to receive samples of their new products. These arrived recently, and while they are not at first glance drastically different from other Monologue products, they offer some neat new features.
These first two journals are pretty close to others that I’ve reviewed before, but they add an elastic pen loop. The cover overhang on the side is a little bigger than usual to help keep your pen or pencil neatly tucked in. They also have 100 gsm blank pages, instead of the 80 gsm lined pages that most Monologue notebooks have.

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Then there is the Contrast Ruled Notebook. I think the “contrast” just refers to the color of the elastic closure and the ribbon marker vs. the cover– in this case you get a bright orange and a rich brown. The cover is not real leather but almost has the look of a smooth leather. Inside, it has ruled pages, and is basically just like a lot of other journals except for this one brilliant detail: the elastic closure wraps around horizontally!

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I’ve tested out a couple of other notebooks where the elastic diverged from the usual vertical approach– there’s the Piccadilly Primo journal where it is a loop that attaches to the spine, and the Art Alternatives Sketch & Draw sketchbook, where it wraps diagonally around the top corner. Then there’s the Makr notebook, which has two diagonal elastics. All of these look nice, but seem a bit awkward. But the Monologue method of wrapping it around from a mid-point on the two covers works perfectly! You can tuck a pen in under in, but more importantly to me, you can wrap it around the spine of the notebook and it stays completely out of the way.

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It’s just the right length so it doesn’t flop around. It probably even helps the notebook lie flat and stay open. And the off-center placement looks quite nice, I think. 4 sizes and 8 color combinations are available.

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It is so clever and practical, I’m amazed that all notebooks aren’t made this way, and that I’ve never seen one like it before. I love it, love it, love it.

The rest of the notebook is nicely made too– my only beef with it is that the cover overhang is quite pronounced, and I always prefer the pages to come right up to the edges of the cover. But that is my personal quirk that I know a lot of people don’t share.

This is just a quick review so I haven’t done full pen tests on these notebooks. The paper in the Contrast Ruled notebook seems similar to that used in the other Grandluxe products I’ve reviewed. So all 3 of these notebooks are in pristine condition and ripe for a giveaway!

I’ll select 3 winners, chosen randomly from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Monologue Notebooks @ilovemonologue @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @ilovemonologue.

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday July 24, 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.

A Family Notebook Business

A neat story about Winnie Chan, a member of the family who owns Grandluxe (some of whose products I’ve reviewed.)

“Some children shun their family business or become reluctant successors.

Not Ms Winnie Chan. In fact, her childhood dream was to join her family’s bookbinding business, Grandluxe.

“Growing up, my ambition was to be my dad’s secretary,” Ms Chan, who is in her 40s, tells SundayLife! with a laugh. Her father, Mr Percy Chan, 68, is chairman of Grandluxe.

Her dream even had an impact on her education. Her computing science project for the A levels was based on a study of Grandluxe’s payroll system and she opted to read economics at the University of California as it seemed most practical for when she returned to the company.

Her elder sister is a piano teacher and is not involved in the business.

Grandluxe is a traditional bookbinding business started in 1945 by her grandfather in a small shophouse at Mohamed Sultan Road.

Over the past 70 years, the business has grown from a tiny outfit producing hand- sewn paper stationery to a company that has five brands under its belt and manufactures paper and leather goods for companies in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Still, despite her bushy-tailed enthusiasm, the journey to become general manager was not a bed of roses for Ms Chan, who joined as a sales executive in 1994….”

Read more at  Taking over family’s bookbinding business a childhood dream come true – More Lifestyle Stories News & Top Stories – The Straits Times.

Grandluxe Notebooks Review and Big Giveaway!

My jaw dropped when I opened the box of samples sent to me by the folks at Grandluxe— it was huge and heavy and full of tons of notebooks! Let’s take a look at the wide variety of products Grandluxe so generously shared, many of which I had never seen in stores. (If you don’t see these stocked at your local retailers, you can order via Grandluxe’s online store.)

First we have these Monologue notebooks, which come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Take note, those who have asked about super-tiny notebooks!


Next we have the Platinum collection. They are the same standard format as the Monologue notebooks above, ruled paper with elastic closure, ribbon markers and inside pockets, but with the fun twist of a metallic look to the cover and page edges:


Next up, the Monologue Jotter, in two sizes. A ballpoint pen is included in its own loop within the cover. It’s nice that they do it this way, as it keeps the exterior looking nice and neat. On the small notebook, it means the pages are narrower within the cover. In the larger size, the pages have a notch cut out of them for the pen. I think this works better in the small size, as there is something weird about the page having that cut-out. The pages seem to be a mix of formats, either lined or a framed blank space.


The Deja Vu notebooks have a square-cornered design, with no elastic closure, ribbon or pocket. The cover is said to be “jersey soft fabric,” and it does have a similar look to an old weathered t-shirt, though I’d describe the feel as a bit more like velour. The pages are lined on one side, blank on the other, another feature that many people seem to look for.


The Ideology notebooks are spiral bound, but glued into a snap-close leatherette cover. Again pages are blank on one side, ruled on the other. I did a pen test on this one. The paper is nice and smooth, and bright white. Show through is a bit worse than average, as is bleed-through. The Super Sharpie even marked the following page a bit.



Then we have the Monologue Sketchpad. This is an unusual format, with a block of sketch paper on one side of the cover, rather than bound into the spine. The outside cover is a sort of nubuck texture with an attractive embossed design. The first page has the cloth tape wrapping around onto it, but the other pages are just glued in, so they can be easily removed. Perhaps a little too easily, as the one I tested my pens on came loose while I was taking photos. The pages can be opened quite flat until you get further towards the back of the sketchbook, when the binding makes it difficult to open all the way. The paper is said to be 140 GSM and suitable for charcoal, chalk, graphite, pencil, pastel, oil pastel, wax crayon, red chalk, acrylic, collage, oil, marker, spray, tempera. They didn’t mention ink pens or watercolors, so that’s what I tested! The paper has a bit of tooth so is not ideal for fine gel ink pens but worked well with everything else. Very good on show-through and bleed-through. Watercolors seemed fine too, and the page where I laid down a wet wash didn’t buckle too much.


Grandluxe is also getting into the game of city notebooks, similar to Moleskine’s. They are smaller and thinner than the Moleskine ones, and have a textured cover with the city name in metallic ink. It’s on the spine in metallic ink too, which is nice– the Moleskine City Notebooks have such a subtle stamped city name on the spine, you have to look really closely to see which city they’re for. Inside you get some maps and city info– less extensive maps than Moleskine, but they do add some narrative about top attractions and how to get around, which Moleskine doesn’t have. For the write-in section, there are useful pages such as a pre-departure checklist, which reminds you to have your mail diverted and leave extra keys with friends, etc, as well as a separate packing checklist. There are other pages for things like a listing of your traveller’s checks, which I don’t know how many people would actually use, expenses, recommended things to see, calendar pages, notes pages, address pages, and blank pages. There is a ribbon marker, back pocket and elastic closure. I personally prefer the format of the Moleskine books as they offer more ability to customize sections of pages, better maps, 3 ribbon markers and extras such as stickers and translucent overlays so you can write on maps without ruining them. But the Grandluxe offers some cities Moleskine doesn’t. (Moleskine seems to have discontinued producing most cities other than London, Paris, New York and Berlin, but I don’t think they ever offered Bangkok, Sydney, Shanghai or Singapore.)


The rest of the samples are other assorted notebook and sketchbook styles that I won’t go into detail on, except for one, which was my absolute favorite of this whole bunch. Knowing my tastes, you’d think my favorite would be a pocket-sized perfect-bound notebook or sketchbook with a black cover and blank or squared pages and no cover overhang, blah blah blah… but actually, it is none of those things!


Here’s my favorite: the A4 size Earth Care Recycled Note Folder. It has a partially covered wire-o binding. The outside cover is a green cardboard, not too heavy. The front cover has an extra fold, with a pocket on the inside. The paper is lined, with a box at the top for the date or subject. The paper is nice and smooth and feels great with gel ink pens. And though it feels quite thin and fine, it’s actually great on show-through and bleed-through, with barely a trace of anything but the dreaded Super Sharpie. For me, this will be the perfect notebook to use at work– I like having a big page for lists and notes from meetings, and it will be great to be able to tuck some extra pages in the front pocket. I’ll use the front flap to tuck around the pages I’ve already used and mark my current page. This will live on my desk and get a ton of everyday use as soon as I finish the large Doane Paper Idea Journal I’m currently using.


Now it’s time to give away some of these lovely samples, and with so many of them, it’s going to be a massive giveaway! A prize pack of at least 3 assorted notebooks each will go to 6 lucky winners randomly selected from entries received in any of the following ways:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday Feb. 7, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.


Ryman Notebook

Yet another proprietary brand notebooks, this time from UK office supply store Ryman’s. I keep thinking there must be just a few factories in China that churn out identical notebooks and people just slap their own branding on them! This one looks like it has a soft, smooth cover similar to the Monologue notebook I reviewed. But here it’s in a nice brown color.

Anyway, I’m not complaining– the more brands of notebooks, the better, even if some of them are the same underneath the wrapper!

More details here: Ryman Notebook A6 Ruled Soft Feel 192 Pages 96 Sheets.

Moleskine Monday: The Switch from Wire-Bound Sketchbooks

BengKia discusses using wire-bound sketchbooks, Monologue notebooks and Moleskines:

The advantages of a stitched sketchbook over a spiral-ring sketchbook are a few. I have found that the spiral-ring binding is prone to being bent out of shape when stuffed in a bag and once the binding rings are deformed, it makes opening the pages difficult. Also, it is not a good idea to paste a lot of pictures inside them as the sketchbook expands and then for some reason, the pages do not feed through the rings properly. The stitched sketchbook, i have since found, does not suffer from these defects.


So I was sold on the stitched sketchbook, but I also had some Grandluxe Monologue A5 sketchbooks laying around and these were cheaper than the Moleskine and with heavier cream paper. But then I found that I really did not like the elastic band on the Monologue, which is a horizontal band, and much preferred the vertical band on Moleskines. Also, where the Monologue did not come with a pocket for stashing away reference pics, the Moleskine did.


Based on the above reasons, I decided to indulge my preferences, instead of being rational, practical and cost conscious. I like using the Moleskine and i do not like using the Monologue as much. So it was that simple, the decision was made and I have now become a convert to Moleskines. I am no longer as insecure about my work as I was when i first started drawing regularly some years ago, and I find that I am oddly fond of the Moleskine.

Read more at BengKia’s Cave: From wire-bound to stitchbound – The Moleskine defection.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Review: Monologue and Dialogue Notebooks by Grandluxe

Here’s a couple of nice notebooks made in Singapore: the Monologue and Dialogue notebooks by Grandluxe. I first heard of the brand when I stumbled across this post, and was quite intrigued. Though they aren’t sold in the United States, the company was kind enough to send me some free samples for review.

The Monologue notebook is something that at first would be thought of by most people as a “Moleskine clone.” But on closer inspection, it turns out that it’s more similar to another major notebook brand.

Here’s the front, with the typical elastic closure and paper band wrapping around:

The cover is smooth and slightly soft, and you can see the imprint of the elastic. The Monologue branding is stamped at the bottom of the back cover. It’s hard to see in photos, but the cover material has a subtle leather-texture look, printed in tiny dots of darker and lighter tones. To the touch, it is completely smooth.


The notebook is slightly larger than a pocket size Piccadilly notebook, shown below for comparison. The Monologue covers are slightly thicker and stick out a bit more from the pages.



The inside front cover is totally blank, no predetermined space for writing your name.


Inside the back cover, the usual expanding pocket, with cloth sides.


The notebook is a bit stiff at first, but it does lie quite flat:


The lined pages have a fairly broad margin at each side:


How’s the paper? Nice and smooth, but there is a bit of show-through with many of my usual pens, and my Pilot Varsity fountain pen seemed to feather a wee bit. The paper weight is 80gsm.



So, did this notebook remind you of anything? How about the Rhodia Webnotebook? They are uncannily similar in the size and exterior appearance, and even the page layout is the same but for the lack of the Rhodia logo in the corner. When you actually put them side by side, you notice other differences: the Rhodia has colored endpapers and a logo stamped on the front, and is slightly thicker, due to its 90gsm paper. But the 80gsm Webnotebook has pretty much the same dimensions as the Monologue notebook– and pretty similar paper, it seemed to me. Below are some comparison shots to the 90gsm Webnotebook:





From what I’ve been able to determine from other blog reviews, the Monologue is less than half the price of a Moleskine, so I’d expect that it is also quite a bit cheaper than a Rhodia Webnotebook in the Asian markets where it is available. (Grandluxe’s suggested retail price is US$7.10.) The paper isn’t as nice as the 90 gsm Rhodia paper, but it’s pretty comparable to the 80gsm earlier Webnotebook– I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference, but I can’t vouch for what heavy duty fountain pen users might experience.

Grandluxe also sent me samples of their Dialogue brand. With their horizontal elastic, these might remind you of Ciak’s notebooks, or Piccadilly’s Primo Journals.


Both the small Dialogue notebook and the Monologue notebook say on their labels that they are A6 size, but their measurements are actually quite different! Below is the Dialogue vs. the pocket size Piccadilly notebook. It measures about 4 3/8 x 5 7/8″. The photo below also shows how round the spine of the Dialogue is– it sticks out quite a bit to accomodate the elastic



The elastic is rounded, and fits into a small groove in the side of the cover.



The Dialogue notebook is pretty springy, and doesn’t easily open flat.


The cover itself is thin and quite flexible.


The line spacing and margins are wider than the Monologue notebook, and there’s a small PaperLuxe logo at the bottom right corner of the lined pages. The front of each page is lined, and the back is unlined, which I rather like– two paper styles in one!


This seems to have the same 80 gsm paper as the Monologue notebook, and performed similarly with pens.



I personally am not crazy about sideways elastics so this isn’t a notebook I’d consider for everyday use, but it seems like a good value for the suggested retail price, which is US$6.80.

United States readers might have a hard time buying these notebooks, but the Monologue and Dialogue brands are sold in 30 countries, including:

  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • Brunei
  • Romania
  • Thailand
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Philippines
  • The Netherlands
  • China

Some of the major retailers stocking them include Magrudy’s, Tokyu Hands, Eslite, Metro Books, Paragon Departmental Stores, Loft, Times Bookstore, Chater House, One-Hua Ho Department Store, Urban Write, Harris Bookstores, Kinokuniya, and Takashimaya Department Store.

If you aren’t traveling any time soon and don’t mind paying for international shipping, you can also try ordering from Grandluxe’s webstore. Other colors, sizes and styles are available.

Forthcoming Notebook Reviews

I have quite a to-do list going with various new notebooks to review, not to mention old ones from my collection.

Here’s a few of my recent purchases and samples I’ve received that you’ll get a look at in the next couple of months:

Simple Diary

Rhodia Notepad

Kolo Essex Travel Book

Tops Designer Notebook

Monologue and Dialogue Notebooks from Grandluxe

Blackwell Notebook

Revolver Journal

Scribe Notebook

Ecosystem Journals

Miquelrius Notebook

Kiki James Leather Jotter

Maruman and Pilot Notebooks from Kinokuniya

And who knows what other new notebooks lurk over the horizon! Stay tuned…