Tag Archives: kinokuniya

Waverley Scottish Plaid Notebooks

Something new and different! Spotted at Kinokuniya bookstore in NYC:


I haven’t seen these for sale anywhere else, but they’re made by a UK company: Waverley Books. Two sizes are available. Here’s the full product description from their site:

The Waverley Scotland Tartan Cloth Commonplace Notebooks Anderson has 176 pages (left side blank, right side ruled), acid-free, threadsewn, 80 gsm cream shade pages, are bound in genuine Scottish tartan cloth over board, with round cornered cover and bookblock corners, stained edges and a matching elastic enclosure.

Each volume has a ribbon-marker and an expandable inner note holder made of cardboard and cloth, and removable booklet with background notes, with a Clan Map of Scotland, and with an individual bookmark, giving detail on the specific tartan used for the binding.

The tartan cloth is supplied by and produced with the authority of Kinloch Anderson Scotland, holders of Royal Warrants of Appointment as Tailors and Kiltmakers to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.

Trimmed page size: 90 × 140 mm

Hardback, 176 pp.



The pocket size notebooks are available on Amazon for $14.95.

Quick Review: Notebooks from Kinokuniya

I’m always trying to keep up with reviewing various samples that notebook manufacturers send me, but sometimes that means I don’t get around to reviewing notebooks I’ve actually bought myself! These are two I purchased over a year ago at the Kinokuniya bookstore in Manhattan. The stationery section in the basement is pen and notebook heaven.

First, an adorable little notepad. Despite the French text on the cover, the notebook is Japanese, by Kyokuto. I love the double layer front cover, which consists of a clear plastic overlay with stripes in one direction, and then a lightweight paper cover underneath, with perpendicular stripes so you end up with a plaid effect. The size is perfectly pocketable (shown below next to a pocket size Moleskine for comparison.) Lined sheets inside with a box for the date. The paper is very smooth, so it feels great with my favorite fine point gel ink pen, but seemed a little slippery with fountain pens. Showthrough and bleed-through aren’t great.  But it’s super cute and a bargain at only $1.95!



Then there’s the “The” notebook by Pilot. A few years ago, I reviewed this notebook’s big brother, the “The II” notebook, which I purchased at a previous Kinokuniya visit. This one is smaller, but otherwise looks very similar, with a retro styled plastic cover and tabbed sections, as well as a narrow ribbon marker. I love the size, it is perfectly proportioned and fits nicely in my hand, and could easily be tucked into a pocket. The top of each page has a space for “theme” and date. Again, the notebook doesn’t open flat as easily as you’d think, despite the plastic flexi binding and stitched signatures. It just feels a bit resistant due to the way the spine is glued, I think. Again I haven’t done a full pen test, but the smooth cool white paper feels great with the Uniball and fountain pens, but the thinness makes it not ideal for showthrough and bleed-through. The plastic cover edges stick out more than I’d like, but otherwise it’s a very appealing notebook, and not too badly priced at $8.95.


I think they still stock these at Kinokuniya if you want to check them out for yourself.

Midori Travelers Notebook 5th Anniversary Limited Edition

One of these days I’m going to buy one of the Midori Traveler’s Notebooks. I personally prefer the size of the smaller “Passport” version– and I don’t keep my passport in any sort of case, so there’s a good excuse! But meanwhile, this still had me salivating a bit:

The Journal Shop is featuring a 5th Anniversary Limited Edition of the Traveler’s Notebook, in a yummy-looking camel color. It’s been a while since I’ve used a real leather notebook on a daily basis and whenever I see the nice rustic look of the Midori notebooks, I’m always reminded of the wonderful smell and feel of leather. Nothing else quite compares. I also like the way you can customize these notebooks with various inserts.

So… someday I’ll buy one. But unfortunately, there may be some delay in their supply: although the notebooks seem to be manufactured in Thailand, I guess the distribution must still be based in Japan, and the Journal Shop notes that orders for the Limited Edition will be delayed because of the earthquake.

(For readers in the US who don’t want to order a Midori notebook from the UK or Japan, Kinokuniya Bookstore in New York sells them, though I don’t know if they’ll carry this limited edition.)

Review: Japanese Notebooks from Kinokuniya

Here’s a look at a couple of notebooks I couldn’t resist buying at Kinokuniya, a store in Manhattan that specializes in books, movies, stationery and other Japanese items.
The first is a quite unique notebook, made by Pilot and branded “THE-II” on the front. The cover is a very retro leather-textured plastic:



But here’s what really sets it apart– thumb-indexed sections, like a dictionary!


One thing I don’t like about the notebook is that the cover overhangs the paper edges by quite a lot. The cover is very flexible so those corners would get bent pretty quickly with active use.


The inside cover is grey paper, with no printing on it.


The first page has one of those odd, somewhat nonsensical Japanese-English slogans: “THE-II : ALL PREPARATIONS ARE COMPLETED.”


There’s some index pages at the front of the notebook:



It’s not the best in terms of opening flat– I was a little worried the binding could fall apart.


From the font used for the stamp on the back, it appears to be made by the same Pilot company that makes pens.


A comparison shot, next to a Piccadilly notebook. The Pilot notebook is wider, approximately 3 3/4 x 5 1/2″.



In the shot below you can also see the difference in the paper color: the Piccadilly has a warm, creamy tone, while the Pilot notebook is a very cool white.


The paper is very smooth, and feels a bit lighter weight than most notebooks, with some bleed-through from various pens:



My second purchase was a very cute little loose-leaf binder by Maruman, again shown next to a small Piccadilly notebook:


This photo above shows something that often annoys me about looseleaf notebooks– the front and back covers are rarely parallel, as the spine has to be wide enough to leave room for the rings, and you can’t fit in enough paper to fill out the thickness. I’ve often tried to solve this by using post-it notes or something else to pad out the covers on the inside.

This notebook has a similar thumb-index look to it, but these are just cut-outs in the black plastic cover which reveal the rainbow-colored divider tabs within. First there’s a black page, then white dividers with colored tabs. I think these tabs must be a Maruman trademark, as I have another binder by them that is at least 10 years old and came with the same tabs.


The notebook includes a small amount of lined paper.


There’s also a clear plastic top-opening envelope.


The spine shows off the rainbow colors:


The looseleaf binding works in an unusual way, swinging to the side to open:


The paper is similar to that of the Pilot notebook: a cool white, nice and smooth but not the best for bleed-through.



The Japanese do make some great stationery! It’s been several months since I bought these and I’m already itching to go back to Kinokuniya and see what’s new there!

Sneak Peaks from the Secret Shopper

I thought I’d share a few photos from some notebook shopping trips around NYC over the past few months. These were furtively snapped with my cell phone, so I apologize in advance for the image quality.

The first few pictures were taken at McNally Jackson Bookstore in the SoHo/NoLIta area of NYC. It’s a fabulous bookstore, and they have a very eclectic little stationery section too.

I wish I’d bought this first one, I love the look of the cover.



It’s hard to tell, but that’s a Leuchtturm notebook below.


Another attractive cover… I love white birch trees in real life, and I guess I like them on notebooks too.



A Moleskine lookalike branded as a travel journal from Rick Steves.







The photos below are from Kinokuniya Bookstore in midtown, right across from Bryant Park. I went there before Christmas and was in total overload at the shelves and shelves of cool Japanese notebooks, pens, stickers and other assorted items.


If you like the charmingly random use of English sometimes found on Japanese products, then you’ll love the notebook below. The cover reads “Guildford is the most charming and lovely town in Surrey. It has maintained its attractive rural villages, riverside walks, gardens, and Tudor architectures.”




I didn’t take good notes on all the brands I found in either place, but I bought a couple of things at Kinokuniya that I’ll review soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend a visit to both shops if you happen to be in New York!