Tag Archives: kikkerland

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: Writersblok Double Spiral Notebooks

When our friends at Kikkerland shared these samples of their latest new product, I had to clap my hands– finally a notebook that really DOES do something new! I’ve seen other notebooks that can open from the back or the front, but I have never seen a notebook with both top and side openings in one. Designed by Constantin Boym, the Writersblok Double Spiral notebooks offer some interesting features and embellishments that you don’t see everyday.

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The first notebook has wire-o bindings on both sides. When you open it from one side, you get ruled pages, and the other side is blank. The covers are made of a nice heavy matte black board with snazzy metallic corners.  A Writersblok logo is stamped on one side– whether you consider it the front cover or the back cover is up to you. The pages have rounded corners on all sides. The page count on the notebook says 140, but by my count each side seems to have 70 sheets/140 pages, so you’re getting a total of 280 pages/ 140 sheets.

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The second notebook has a slim top-opening notebook and then a side-opening notebook on the back. It makes for a bit of a challenge in slipping the paper band off without tearing it– the wrapper is bound into the spiral on one side and has to be nudged out from between the pages on the other, as you can’t open the notebook until the band is loosened. The top-opening pad is lined paper, and the side-opening part is squared.

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The paper inside the notebooks is smooth and cool white. Show-through and bleed-through are about average, maybe a little bit more bleed-through than average from a couple of my usual pens.

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The double thickness of the combined notebooks makes for a pleasingly chunky package, but when you hold them in your hand, it becomes hard to avoid the wire spirals. After a while, it might get annoying to have them digging into your palm. (Shown below with a pocket size Moleskine for size comparison.)

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My only other complaint about these notebooks is that the wire-o binding starts on the wrong side– normally, a wire-o binding connects from hole to hole at the back of the notebook, allowing the pages to turn freely from the front. In this case, that part is at the front of the notebook so you have to jiggle the whole wire around to get it out of the way if you want the pages to open flat. Both notebooks have this problem on both sides– I don’t know if it’s just an accidental defect, or if the two-sided design makes it a manufacturing necessity, but it really lessens the usability of the notebook.

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So while I love the innovation and creativity and design of these notebooks, the practicality of them may be somewhat limited. I hope Kikkerland will make some other single-sided notebooks with the same styling– the black covers and metal corners really do look great and I would absolutely love to have an 8.5 x 11″ squared notebook in this design to use as my desktop notebook at work, where I always like to have something that I can open flat and flip the pages around to the back.

Look for these at your local stationery store, or you can buy direct from Kikkerland’s online store. (Other Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks are available on Amazon, so these will probably be there soon too.)

I’ll be giving away the double side-opening notebook to one lucky winner, selected at random from entries received by these methods:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Writersblok @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” on the Notebook Stories page.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday March 25 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: New Kikkerland Writersblok Notebooks

I’m very excited to be posting one of the first reviews of a brand new notebook line from Kikkerland. I reviewed their first Writersblok notebooks several years ago. Since then, they have introduced additional notebook designs, but these latest ones are the best yet!

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These notebooks are quite a departure from previous Writersblok products. At first glance, they seem to fit the typical model of an all-black hardcover notebook with the usual ribbon marker and elastic closure, but there are some interesting differences here. First of all, compared to previous Writersblok notebooks, they have a totally new look to their packaging.

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The next major point of difference is the pocket notebook sizing– instead of the typical 3.5 x 5.5″ size, or even Leuchtturm’s 3.5 x 6″ size, they decided to emulate the sizing of Apple’s iPhone 6 for the pocket notebook, and the iPad Mini for the large size. writersblok 2015.21

The large notebook at approximately 5.3 x 7.8″ didn’t strike me as very noticeably different from the 5 x 8.25 large Moleskine format, but the pocket format of an iPhone 6 is 2.64 x 5.44″ so these notebooks seem very slim and sleek, very pocketable. The front of the notebooks call out the idea that the corresponding Apple device will “fit inside”– I couldn’t actually test this out, but I don’t quite believe it will really work without the covers being all bent and distorted. But I like the idea that you could tuck your iPhone or iPad under the notebook’s elastic and have them fit together as a tidy little package.

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When you first handle one of these notebooks, you’ll notice the leather smell– they’ve used bonded leather for the covers of both the hardcover and softcover versions. It is “real” leather, though it’s gone through some processing. The covers have a nice feel to them. I was very intrigued by the construction of the hardcover notebook– usually, the leather-like material is wrapped around a piece of cardboard and you can see on the corners how it’s been gathered and tucked in. The Writersblok notebook cover seems more like a single piece, with no evidence of wrapping, but near the spine, there is a cut that allows it to flex open and there you seem to see cardboard underneath. I think this cut is meant to prevent the corners by the spine from wearing out, as they so often do on other brands. It didn’t seem to me like it would weaken the cover but it will be interesting to see how it stands up to use. The notebook does open quite flat.

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Both hardcover and softcover versions have some cover overhang.

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It’s almost more noticeable on the softcover, perhaps because I’m so used to softcover notebooks not having that at all. It’s not as thin a soft cover as most– it has some substance to it, while still remaining flexible. It gets dented a bit by the elastic closure.

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Both versions have a somewhat rounded spine. The two photos below show the hardcover Writersblok and a Moleskine for comparison.

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The other nice touch is the addition of perforated sheets in the back– these add a horizontal perforation so you can easily tear out a half sheet.

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The paper itself is smooth-ish– not as super-smooth as some but it worked nicely with most of my usual pens, with nothing feeling scratchy. Show-through was about average, bleed-through was perhaps slightly worse than average, and there was some slight feathering with fountain pens.

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Bottom line: it’s a good notebook, and a welcome addition to the landscape even if the paper may not totally wow everyone. I am so picky about my preferred notebook sizing, I wasn’t expecting to like the pocket size. I’m even resisting upgrading my iPhone because I prefer the size of my 4S to the 6. Nevertheless, I was surprised at how natural the pocket Writersblok felt in the hand, and the slimness of it is rather elegant. I think a lot of people will enjoy having something a little narrower than slips into a pocket more easily.

These are available in the pocket and large sizes, hardcover and softcover, and with lined or plain paper. The large size is $13 and the small is $10, which is a good value vs. other brands, especially since part of the proceeds goes to literacy programs around the country, including 826NYC,  a nonprofit organization in NYC dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

You can buy them at the Kikkerland website now (with free shipping in the US for orders over $15!), and they should be in more stores soon, including these:

Lockwood Design Store in Astoria & Lockwood Jackson Heights, NY

Powell’s Books, Portland OR

And if you’re feeling lucky, enter my giveaway for extra samples!

Three winners will be chosen randomly from entries received in these ways, and each will receive one notebook:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Writersblok @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” on the Notebook Stories page.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday September 25, 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.

Writersblok Bamboo Paper Notebooks

I reviewed Kikkerland’s Writersblok notebooks a while back, and now it seems their product line is expanding with these “Bamboo” notebooks, sold at RevDesign.  I didn’t love the paper in the old notebooks, so maybe this new 80 gsm bamboo paper would be an improvement. They also seem to have a different binding with more of a square spine similar to a Moleskine Volant, rather than the old staple bound format. Has anyone out there tried these? Please let us know what you think!

The 4-pack no longer seems to be listed on the website, but they have 2-packs available.

Kikkerland WritersBlok Notebooks Now Available

I’ve been wanting to check these out for a while, and it seems they are finally more widely available. I picked up a set of 3 small dotted notebooks at Paper Presentation on West 18th St. in NYC. They also had the large size, and ruled and plain paper versions in both sizes. I’ve read that they are also being sold at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store and Exit 9, a fun gift shop with locations in Manhattan and on Smith Street in Brooklyn.

My 3-pack cost $5.95 before tax– cheaper than Moleskine cahiers. But are they a good alternative to Moleskine? Let’s dive right in and find out!

First impressions: the 3-pack comes shrink-wrapped, and within that the 3 notebooks are wrapped in a single paper band. They have a plain paper cover with a stitched spine, very similar to the Cahiers. (Not smooth like the Moleskine Volants, one of which is shown here for comparison. The Volant is also slightly wider.) I like the colors they come in, a variety of muted shades– mine were a dark red, blue, and black. I saw other styles that came in lighter grey and green shades.

The front cover has an embossed rectangle– for some reason, I really liked this. It made me think of some old red-bordered labels I had as a kid, and I thought how nice something like that would look pasted into that rectangle… more on that later, though.

The back cover has the WritersBlok name on it, in the way most other notebook brands label themselves these days.

When you open up the notebook, you’re right into the paper– no cover page asking for your name and address. Inside the back cover, there is a pocket. There’s a little info sheet tucked in front of it, noting that some of the proceeds from these notebooks support literacy programs such as 826NYC, which cleverly disguises itself as the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store. And it includes a nice message:

Writing is good exercise. It’s good for your mind in the same way that riding a bike is good for your legs. It’s a way to communicate, capture a thought, grow an idea. It helps you think, be more creative, and….it’s fun. And these are things we think are good and good for you…

The insert also helpfully points out that Kikkerland Design is located on “WETS” 127th Street in New York… hmm, wonder where that is?

I was also mystified by this little piece of paper in the back pocket. I thought, well, the pocket is kind of tightly glued down at the edges, maybe they’re afraid people won’t notice it’s there if they don’t stick this little thingie in it? The little thingie was tacked down lightly with a tiny bit of adhesive, but it was easy to remove.

How about the paper? I was so pleased with the first impression of the exterior of these notebooks that I almost forgot to try writing in one! Unfortunately, this started to burst the bubble a bit. The paper is pretty thin. It just doesn’t have as nice and smooth a feeling when you write in it, and the pens I tried showed through quite a bit, and the Uniball Vision Micro feathered somewhat.

I also noticed that the dot pattern on one of my notebooks was somewhat askew– if you look at the photos above, you may notice that the paper band was askew around the set, which was no big deal, but I started to notice even more asymmetry. One notebook’s spine stitching was a teensy bit crooked, and all of them seemed to curl up a bit at the lower right corner, I guess due to the way the pocket is attached.

And here’s the final bit of crookedness that really bothered me: you know that little slip of paper in the pocket? I finally noticed that the paper band mentioned an “optional use label” and realized that’s what it was! It took me forever to actually be able to pick the backing off this flimsy little sticker to place in in the embossed rectangle on the front cover… and when I did, I was really disappointed, especially after my nostalgia for my nice old labels! On these, the edges aren’t square, and frankly, it looks like I stuck a piece of masking tape on there.

The downside to these notebooks is definitely the quality. The edges had some uneven cutting, the details mentioned above were crooked, and the paper feels thin. But I like the colors and design, and it’s great to have a dotted paper option. For a very inexpensive, made-in-China, we’re-donating-proceeds kind of item, I guess I shouldn’t complain but I must confess I was hoping for something that would excite me more. Oh well– I’m sure other opinions will differ. Has anyone else tried these yet? What are your thoughts?