Tag Archives: grid

3 New Notebooks

They may not quite make you want to “toss your Moleskine,” as the author of the original post says, but they will certainly make nice additions to your collection!

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

Read more at These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design.

Review and Giveaway: Elan Pocket-Size Field Book

I’ve been rather fascinated by field books lately. I first owned one when I was in college– I forget where I bought it, but I stumbled on it in a store, thought it looked cool, and ended up using it for some art classes where its durability came in handy.

I hadn’t thought about it in years and then was reminded of it while going through boxes of notebooks and realized I actually owned a notebook that had the same interesting paper used in the work of David Fullarton:

I poked around and found these notebooks for sale at Engineer Supply: Elan Field Books. The standard field book size is about 4 1/2 x 7″, which is not a size I used very often any more, but I got all excited when I saw that Elan offered a smaller “pocket size” field book. At 4 1/8 x 6 1/4″, it’s not for very small pockets, but I couldn’t resist– I had to buy some. And yes, I really did have to buy “some.” Unfortunately, Engineer Supply only sells these by the 6-pack, and at $8.25 each, that ended up being a bit of an investment. But it’s all for the good of my readers, and means I have some extras to give away!

So let’s take a look at what I got:

I have to say, I was disappointed at how large the notebook ended up being. The actual exterior measurements are  4 5/16 x 6 13/16″ and the page dimensions within are 4 1/8 x 6 1/2″. That’s a pretty big discrepancy with what was promised. The Elan field book is shown below with a pocket Moleskine for comparison.

And boy is that cover a bright orangey red! I guess it makes sense, though, as my old muddy brown one could easily get lost in the woods, but this one never would!





You’ll also notice my other major disappointment: a HUGE cover overhang. Yuck. My old field book had almost none.


But inside is where we get to the good part. Inside the front cover, there’s a space to write your contact details and the contents of the book. On the inside back cover, you get a few fun bits of mathematical information that most of us will never use. The pages within are a nice red and blue grid pattern, which is a good compromise between line and graph. The columns would be handy for jotting numbers. The page layout I chose is actually called a “Level Book” but you can also get a “Field Book” that has this page style on the left, and a smaller grid pattern on the right, similar to in the Fullarton image above.


The notebook opens quite flat, due to a somewhat loose binding. The paper has a smooth feel and fine point gel pens feel great on it. Fountain pens worked well, though my Uniball Vision Micro feathered out a bit. Show-through is not all that great, though bleed-through is better than average. The paper is acid-free.


From the Engineer Supply description:



  • High visibility, extra stiff orange hardbound cover
  • Completely protected by a waterproof barrier with blind embossing
  • White ledger paper has a 50% cotton content and is specially formulated for maxiumum archival service, ease of erasure and protected by a water resistant surface sizing
  • Ruled light blue with red vertical lines


  • Number of pages — 160 pages (80 sheets)

  • Page size — 4 1/8” W x 6 1/2” H

  • Grid layout on the left — 6 vertical columns

  • Grid layout on the right — 6 vertical columns

So for the bottom line, I definitely didn’t find this the field book of my dreams. I would really love a smaller one, with no cover overhang. Then I’d buy them by the half-dozen, or dozen, or gross, maybe! But as is, they’re still pretty good, depending on your needs, and they’re not too expensive. As noted above, you can buy them online in packs of 6 from Engineer Supply, or one by one via Amazon.

And I have a few extras to give away! I’ll select 3 lucky winners from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Elan Field Book” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories.

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday Feb. 8 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.

Review: 2012 Typotheque Pocket Calendar

Quite a while back, I posted a link to a snazzy looking diary by Typotheque. Little did I know that almost two years later, I’d be sent a sample to review!  Seeing this year’s version in person did not disappoint. Here it is:


I love the nice clean design, with all its sharp lines and angles. The cover is very cool– it’s sort of a two-layer design with the blue outer cover and flaps folding around a red inner cover.



Inside, you see that it’s technically called a calendar “plus sketchbook.” Lots of diaries have extra notes space, but I’ve never seen one that had such a high ratio of drawing pages. But before you get there, it’s pretty standard diary stuff: an international holiday list, which also includes major design industry events, a 2-year calendar, then weekly spreads which start with Monday. There are 4 days to each page, leaving room for a notes space at the end of the week. Holidays are in orange, and moon phases are noted in grey.


After the calendar pages, you get the blue sketchbook pages with various patterns in fine white lines– dots, grid, overlapping circles and triangles, etc. Very cool for drawing and doodling.
There’s also a red ribbon marker.


The whole thing measures 4 x 6″, and about 1/2 inch think. It’s nicely flexible and opens flat. The pages are lighter weight and a bit thin, so I’d expect some show-through with some pens.
You can purchase one at the Typotheque online store. It’s not super cheap at 15 Euros/$19.80 USD (plus shipping, which is 7.70 Euros to the US for 6-9 day international priority mail). But it’s a beautiful and unique way to keep track of your year and inspire your creativity!

15 euro/ 19.80 USD


Susan Kare’s Sketchbook: The Birth of an Icon

Very cool! The original sketchbook of the woman who designed the graphical interface icons for the first Mac computers:


Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. Because an application for designing icons on screen hadn’t been coded yet, she went to the University Art supply store in Palo Alto and picked up a $2.50 sketchbook so she could begin playing around with forms and ideas. In the pages of this sketchbook, which hardly anyone but Kare has seen before now*, she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.

Read more at The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face | NeuroTribes.

Review and Giveaway: Rubberband Notebooks

I forget how I first heard about Rubberband notebooks, but I emailed them a while back and they sent me a great batch of samples to review. Let’s take a look!

First, we have this very snazzy planner. It comes in a slipcase with a paper band around it, and inside you get a nice plain black cover with a stamped logo. It has an elastic closure and back pocket.


Here’s a cool touch inside: yellow pages at the back!


The planner layout is really nice– a grid layout for the personal info page and subtle ink colors throughout.



This next notebook is really fun, a flexible softcover notebook with bright orange pages! Hot!

It takes very well to being bent and almost rolled into a tube. Nice black covers with subtle branding. The cover is an interesting material, a bit different from the usual faux leather– it has more of a smooth sheen and almost rubbery feel to it.




This smaller notebook has a cardboard cover and an interesting binding style, plus two colors of paper within.



The pages are lined, but with a grid section at the bottom. The notebook opens very flat.


Here you see the stitching of the binding. There is also a light layer of clear glue coating the spine.



The dark color of the paper makes it quite good for show-through, though a few pens bled through, somewhat more on the blue paper than on the green. The paper seemed a bit thirstier than some, as I noticed when just leaving the Sharpie tip in one spot for a few seconds.


Rubberband has a lot of other interesting notebook styles. The company is based in India, and I’m not sure if there are any retailers in the US. Their website currently says an online shop is coming soon, but in the meantime they might be hard to find. But you can always throw your hat in to win a couple of samples from me! I’ll be picking one random winner from entries submitted as follows:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday July 1 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!

Review: Ecosystem Notebook

A while back, I wrote a post mentioning Ecosystem notebooks. Someone at Ecosystem actually noticed, and even though I more or less trashed their whole brand identity, they were kind enough to send me a sample so I could actually review the quality of the product. (Now that’s good marketing.)

So, let’s take a look…

The basic package is very similar to other notebooks on the market– size is supposedly 3.5 x 5.5″, though it’s actually slightly larger. I measured it as 3 11/16 x 5 5/8″. The paper band runs vertically, similar to the Rhodia Webnotebook, rather than horizontally like Moleskine and Piccadilly.



The back cover features the usual stamped logo. In the photo below, you’ll also notice that the elastic is quite thick and substantial, as is the ribbon marker. It feels as though it would be more durable than the thinner ones on most other notebooks. You can also see a bit of the cover texture below. The notebook is softcover, but a bit stiffer than a Moleskine, and the cover material has less texture to it. Again, it feels a bit more substantial than the softcover Moleskine, which tends to get beat up on the corners pretty quickly.


The inside front cover is a bit more decorated than other brands. You get a bit of information about about the notebook, and space for your name and contact info. It also notes that there is a unique ID number inside the back cover, which can be used to trace the owner if the notebook is lost.

I rather like the leaf pattern in the background– I love books with fancy endpapers, and I wish more notebooks were made that way. It’s like having a jacket with a really cool lining: style that is for your own enjoyment, not just to flash around to others. I’ve actually customized notebooks with pasted-in endpapers when giving them as gifts, but as far as I’ve seen, TeNeues Coolnotes is the only brand that really has fun with that space.


The fun leaf pattern continues on the inside back cover, where the standard expanding pocket also appears.


Here’s a closeup of that identification number. I wonder how much this feature will really be used– if someone found a notebook would they really bother to go to a website to reconnect it with its owner? And wouldn’t it be simpler for all concerned for the owner just to put some form of contact info inside the front cover? Maybe some people don’t want their contact info to appear there, but if you’re concerned about privacy, why would you be registering the notebook with Ecosystem in the first place?


This is about as flat as the notebook will easily open– not as flat as Moleskine or Piccadilly. You can sort of see below that every page is perforated, which is a nice touch many other brands don’t have. The perforations are quite fine, and I don’t think pages are likely to come loose unintentionally unless you really, severely abuse the notebook and bend it right on the perforations a lot.


As for the paper, it’s pretty smooth– not as smooth as Clairefontaine or Moleskine, but smoother than at least some of the Piccadillies I’ve used. And it performed much better than average in terms of holding up to bleed-through.



But the paper ended up being the main reason I will probably not actually use this notebook. When I first saw the paper, I noticed that the squares were a lot smaller than most graph paper notebooks– only 1/8″, rather than the more typical 3/16″. The lines also seem a bit dark, and the overall effect ended up being really distracting when I wrote in the notebook. Maybe I’d get used to it, or maybe it would be better if I used thick pens all the time, or had larger handwriting, I don’t know. But if the unlined paper has the same texture, I think I’d be quite happy with it. The notebook has 192 pages, and though the paper weight is not specified, I’d guess it’s probably 80 gsm, as it bulks up about the same as a Piccadilly.

Ecosystem notebooks are available in quite a few options: small and large sizes, hard cover, flexi cover or cahier-style, various colors, and lined, plain or graph paper, as well as planners. They also offer some insert booklets like calendars and to-do lists that can be tucked into the back pocket, adding a bit of Filofax-like customizability to the notebooks– this is a great touch, though the notebook I received doesn’t seem built to accommodate extra pages like that without starting to appear really overstuffed. (Moleskine’s planners that come with the little index page booklets are made with a bit of extra room in the spine so the covers will still lie flat.)

The small notebooks retail for $9.95. So far, I believe they’re only available at the Ecosystem website or in Barnes & Noble, though I believe I heard somewhere that they were going to be expanding their retail distribution. Given that this is a US-made, 100% post-consumer recycled paper product, with specs comparable to or arguably better than a Moleskine, this seems like a very good price.

So, bottom line, it’s actually a very nice notebook and a good value, and their eco-friendly, local manufacturing is very admirable. But I can’t help saying it: their marketing still drives me nuts!