Tag Archives: recycled

Review and Giveaway: Guided Rewrite Notebooks

I’m always hoping to find new brands of American-made notebooks. I was not familiar with Guided Products or their ReWrite brand of notebooks until they contacted me and sent some samples for review, so it was a pleasant discovery!

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I received quite a selection of samples. ReWrite notebooks come in 3 sizes, with ruled, plain, squared, and dot-grid options. The small notebooks come in shrinkwrapped 4-packs, and the medium and large sizes are sold in 3 packs. All sizes are 48 pages.

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The notebooks are very simple– plain brown cardboard covers, with no branding except on the lower back cover. My first impression about the 3.5 x 5.5″ pocket size notebook was that it was actually a bit smaller than a Moleskine Cahier or Field Notes notebook– but this was an illusion, as they are actually the same size. (Shown below with a hardcover pocket Moleskine and a Field Notes for size comparison.)

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The main difference is that the spine here is squared off and the pages are glued in rather than sewed or stapled in a signature. This makes the spine of the notebook somewhat stiffer when you first open it.

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It can be opened pretty flat, but you have to force it a bit, and you may see the spine between the pages, especially at the front and back of the notebook. The pages are perforated throughout. Some people would no doubt prefer a sewn or stapled binding without perforations, but others will like being able to easily tear out pages.

The notebook is quite flexible. Though it is thicker than a standard Field Notes, and the cardboard cover is somewhat thicker than what Field Notes usually uses, it bends a bit more easily. Another difference I noticed is that the corners are rounded to a smaller diameter than Field Notes.

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The squared paper has somewhat larger squares than the Moleskine shown for comparison. The lines are brown, and somewhat thicker. You can also see the bright white color of the paper in comparison to the cream-colored Moleskine. The paper felt good to write on with my usual pens, and show-through was a little better than average. Bleed-through was about average for most pens, and a little bit worse than average with fountain pens. The paper is acid-free, and recycled.

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ReWrite notebooks are available at Amazon or directly from the Guided Products website, where quantity discounts are offered on larger orders. At $13.99 suggested retail price for a 4-pack of small notebooks, they are a great value for an American-made product of this quality. Their plain covers are a nice alternative to over-branding of certain other notebooks. And Guided Products offers custom-printed covers too, starting at only $4.41 each for a minimum of 100 small notebooks with one-color front cover art, with prices dropping for larger orders. And in the meantime, you can enter the giveaway for a chance at some of my extra samples! Each winner will get at least 2 packs of notebooks (not all will still be in shrinkwrap).

Four randomly chosen winners will be selected from entries received in any or all of these ways:

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

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Guided Products page and post something containing the words “ReWrite” on the Notebook Stories page.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday February 20, 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.

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.


Review and Giveaway: Paperback Note

I first discovered Paperback Note via a link at Better Living Through Design. It later turned out I’d made their creator a notebook addict of the week. It makes perfect sense that Herman would be so addicted to notebooks, he had to start a company to make them!


Paperback Notes Notebooks are made of old paperback books, but unlike some other notebooks made from recycled books, these keep the entire cover wrap intact.

The samples I was sent represent an interesting mix– an old Harlequin romance and some classics (including one of the original Penguin paperbacks that has inspired their current line of accessories).

Each notebook is pleasantly slim and solid. I’m not sure what their manufacturing process is, but the old book covers seem to be smoothly and securely fastened to the new notebook interior, almost as if laminated. The corners are precisely rounded. paperbacknote2paperbacknote4

The spines sometimes show a little wear, and you can see that the original book may have been slightly thicker than the notebook (though according to their website, the page count in the notebooks varies from 30-60 pages according to the original book’s thickness). The pages are sewn in signatures, so the notebooks open flat.


I really like how they’ve managed to preserve the wear and tear of the old book in the form of a sleek notebook that feels like it won’t fall into tatters. I also like the subtle Paperback Note branding– their logo is embossed onto the back cover– it’s easy to miss, and is more visible in reverse on the inside back cover.


The paper inside these notebooks has a slight texture, but all my usual pens wrote very smoothly on it. My Sharpie and Acculiner pens bled out a bit, and there was some feathering with fountain pens, but the overall show-through/ bleed-through performance was better than average. The paper is acid-free. All the notebooks I received had blank pages, which is standard, but according to their blog, lined or gridded paper is available upon request.


To buy one of these notebooks, you go to their website, pick out the book cover you want, and they then turn it into a handcrafted notebook. Pricing on the website is in Canadian dollars, but I’m afraid to say it’s a bit steep: Most of the notebooks are $25CAN each. Shipping to the US is $9CAN plus $3CAN per item, so your total would be $37CAN for one notebook, or about $37.25US at current conversion rates. They’ll also sell you the original book for $5CAN– I’m not sure how this works, as the cover would be removed to make the notebook, and a set of interior book pages on their own might not be that appealing to most people. You can also contact them to arrange to have your own books rebound into notebooks.

Bottom line: I love these notebooks and their workmanship makes them the best recycled-book notebook I’ve seen. But the quality comes at a pretty high price that might make them better for gift-giving than everyday use.

Check out the wares at Paperback Note… and you can enter to win one of the two notebooks I’m giving away to random winners selected from entries received in these ways:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday October 26 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.


Notebooks Made of Coffee Cups

What a great idea: notebooks made out of coffee cups… with brown pages within, of course!

Read more at Re-Purposed Coffee Cups Make for Notebooks Worth Buzzing About | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Huldra Press

I came across an interesting story a while back about Huldra Press, owned by Marianne Dages. She makes letterpress cards and prints, as well as bound journals using recycled papers.

“I started making books like this because I was always kind of afraid of starting a perfectly white, blank book,” she said. “So, my idea was to make it a little bit more welcoming to start with, and already kind of started with different paper to inspire you to use it in whatever way you wanted to.”
Dages’s notebooks are unique creations with interiors sourced from vintage paper. The pages don’t always match and they’re not always blank. One page might be graph paper. The next might bear the crisp blue-lined grid of an accountant’s ledger or library check-out card. Occasionally, there’s a page with a photo or illustration taken from science, natural history or even vintage children’s books, to fill in an otherwise intimidating blank.

The elegant leather-bound and hardcover journals have an artistic quality that customers are sometimes reluctant disrupt with writing and sketches, but Dages encourages them to do just that.

“It’s a little handmade thing in your life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be treated preciously,” she said. “People say, ‘I don’t know what to write in my book. I feel like I have to think of something amazing,’ but I encourage people to use them for anything. I mean, I use them for grocery lists.”

Read more at Huldra Press helps conquer the fear of blank books — NewsWorks and make sure you look at the accompanying slideshow of her printshop in action.

Review: Ex Libris Anonymous Book Cover Journals

I was contacted several months ago by Jacob Deatherage, the owner of Ex Libris Anonymous,  a small company based in Portland, Oregon who make journals by hand using old recycled books. When I agreed to accept a couple of samples for review, I had no idea I’d get this large batch!


First of all, I know some people are bothered that anyone would tear apart an old book to turn it into something else, but I’d like to think that these perhaps weren’t in good enough shape to still be read. As the insert in each journal tells you, the people who make these are “artists and book lovers who believe in sustainable business practices.”


Each journal is made from the front and back cover of a book, with a few pages of the interiors scattered inside as dividers. This leads to some amusing serendipitous discoveries such as the pages below.


I also loved a section in the Boston School Kitchen Text-Book which explains why all young women should learn to cook:

“No matter how high her social position may be, no girl is sure of retaining it through life. Though in her youthful conceit she may boast of never scrubbing a floor, or washing a dish, and may think it commendable to be ignorant of the mysteries of the kitchen, the time may come when she will have harder work than this to do, and will be thankful if tehre is one thing she can do well, even if it be but the washing of dishes or the cooking of wholesome food. And if her position should chance to be that of a director of such work, rather than a doer of it, this practical knowledge will be even more valuable.”

Needless to say, in 1887 there was no need to mention that any male might also want such knowledge!

The book cover edges are sawed off in a sharp, straight edge, but there is nothing finishing off the edge to prevent it from fraying. The spiral binding is plastic.


The interior pages are quite a bit smaller than the cover, leading to a large cover overhang, which always gets on my nerves, though I know other people prefer it that way.


The paper inside is smooth and bright white, and is acid-free. All my usual pens performed nicely on it, with a soft pencil giving a nice opaque black very easily. Show-through was about average, and only the Super Sharpie and Accu-Liner bled through, which is pretty typical.




These journals would make a nice gift for any book lover. The variety of covers they use guarantees there’s something for pretty much anyone, and the hard covers will be quite durable, as some of the books are old textbooks or library editions designed to be mauled by children. Each journal is unique, so the sizes and designs vary. The prices are around $13-14 for most styles I looked at on the website.

Thanks to the very generous assortment of samples I received, we’re going to have a mother of a giveaway this time!

I’ll select three random winners from entries submitted as follows, and each winner will receive two journals:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Book Journals” and follow “@exlibrisanon” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and the Ex Libris Anonymous page, and post something containing the words “Book Journals” on my wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Ex Libris Anonymous Book Journals” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday Feb. 3 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!

Calepino Notebooks

Here’s a new brand of notebooks that look fantastic!
Notebooks : Calepino.

Designed and manufactured in France, available in lined, squared and plain. 48 pages, 90g paper, 9 x 14cm. Sold in 3-packs that come in nice little case. Each 3-pack is 9 Euros, but outside the EU you can take 19.6% off since you don’t have to pay VAT. And if your total order is more than 27-40 Euros, depending on location, they will ship for free. (Not sure if that free shipping minimum is before or after you deduct the VAT.)

I’m dying to try these!

Review and Giveaway: Pocket Dept Notebooks

Pocket Dept is a relatively new brand of notebooks. Here’s the description from their website:

Pocket Dept is a line of handy notebooks inspired by vintage stationary and designed to suit every pocket. Each Pocket Dept book is made from the finest writing papers and perfect bound for strength and durability. Designed and manufactured with recycled materials by Art House Co-op in Brooklyn, NY – from our workshop to your pocket.

I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks at the BookExpo convention back in May, and I was immediately smitten. The colors and design are lovely, with the feel of a vintage notebook that might have faded a bit with age. But is their beauty more than skin-deep? (or cover-deep) Let’s take a look at some samples the company sent me to find out…

Here’s the 3 samples I got:


Aren’t those colors fantastic? The sizes shown above are their “Messenger Bag Pocket” size, which is 5.5 x 8.5″, and the 3.5 x 5.5″ “Shirt Pocket” model. They also offer a 6×6″ “Backpack Pocket,” a 4 x 4″ “Back Pocket,” and a 3.5 x 6″ “Front Pocket.” This last, to me, seemed a curious choice– why offer two sizes that differ by only a half inch in height? As far as I can tell, there is no other difference. I guess the 3.5 x 6″ size is becoming more popular– it’s used by Leuchtturm and other brands, particularly German ones, it seems. Perhaps some people are just as passionately in favor of the taller page size as I am passionately against it!

But back to my samples…


The covers have a letterpress printed box with the brand name and a space for your name, the date, and a place. The typography also has a vintage look to it. I do tend to prefer notebooks that proclaim their branding more subtly, but the design is attractive. You’ll also notice that one of the notebooks is in French, which I love. On the back cover, there’s another box with information about the brand and the slogan “a notebook for your pocket.”



The edges are nicely trimmed, with square corners. Everything was nice and square and lined up properly– good attention to quality and detail. The spine is also squared off as they are perfect bound, with the pages glued in rather than sewn in signatures. I’ve pictured the Pocket Dept notebook with a pocket hardcover Moleskine for size comparison, but the Moleskine Volant would be a closer equivalent.

But the binding ended up being my main beef with this notebook. The cover is glued in beyond the edge of the notebook, so to open it, you have to crease the front cover, thereby spoiling its appearance a bit. The spine is pretty tightly glued, so the notebook doesn’t open flat.


The paper inside is slightly greyish– it reminded me of the paper in the Leonardo notebook I reviewed. I wasn’t expecting it to be especially smooth, but it actually feels great to write on and performed well with all my usual pens. Showthrough and bleed-through were less than average. Unlined paper seems to be the only option. None of the pages are perforated.


Each of the notebooks has 35 sheets/ 70 pages, so they are slim and certainly live up to their name of being easy to slide into a pocket. But at prices of $8-12 each depending on size, they’re pretty expensive– you won’t have to worry about your money competing for space in those pockets if you buy a lot of these! I am willing to pay a little more for a well-made notebook, especially one like this where I know I’m supporting a small local business, but that price makes me say ouch. It’s a shame, because I’d buy one as a gift for a notebook lover, but I wouldn’t buy dozens for myself to go through as the kind of everyday jotter notebook that they seem to want them to be.

So, bottom line, the pros are the beautiful design, variety of colors and sizes, and the paper. The cons are the binding that doesn’t allow the notebook to lie flat, and the price. I wish I could give these more of a whole-hearted rave, but I hope the company will come out with other products. I’d personally love to see a hardcover notebook with the same paper and the exterior in these great colors. (In 3.5 x 5.5″, please!)

You can buy Pocket Dept notebooks in a few stores around the US, as well as online from their website. But you can also try your hand at winning one. I’ll be selecting 2 lucky winners to receive some of my samples, from entries received as follows:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Pocket Dept” and follow “@pocketdept” and “@NotebookStories.

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday Dec. 9 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!

Beverage Notebooks

Here’s some cool notebooks I found out about from a reader (thanks June!)

If you like beer, you’ll love this:

See more at 33Beers.com

There’s also a wine journal at 33Wines.com:

And for those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks, check this one out: 33Coffees.com

I like the design– they seem to have a nice balance of pre-formatted stuff to fill in and blank space for notes. They should put all 3 together in a little binder…

They are made with recycled papers and soy inks in Portland, Oregon– it doesn’t say so anywhere, but I’d bet anything these are custom printed versions of the Scout Books by Pinball Press.

Review: O’Bon Notebooks (and Pencils)

I was happy to receive this lovely batch of samples from the good people at O’Bon. They make colorful and eco-friendly pencils and paper products.


The large feather-pattern notebook on the bottom is a looseleaf binder. Then there are two wire-O notebooks, and 4 packs of pencils.

Let’s take a closer look at the notebooks:



I love the cover designs, particularly the peacock feathers. They offer a variety of other feather designs and they’re all gorgeous and very unlike other notebook covers available.

Inside, the notebooks have pretty standard lined paper, but there’s a little box for the date at the top, and the O’Bon logo at the bottom.


In front of the first page, there’s some info about the company and how they make paper out of sugarcane.


I tested all my usual pens and pencils with pretty good results. It’s not silky smooth paper, but it’s a pleasing shade of cool white and fine to write on. Show-through was about average.



There’s not a whole lot else to say– these are pretty basic notebooks, but with prettier covers and eco-friendly paper.

As for the pencils, they are also attractive and eco-friendly, as they are made from recycled newspapers.  Again, the designs are very funky. Kids will love the set of colored pencils, each of which looks like a different animal.




I like O’Bon’s philosophy, as expressed on their website:

Our belief continues to be that environmentally friendly products don’t have to come in boring designs or earthy green and brown tones.

As usual, I can’t keep all of these goodies for myself, so one lucky reader will be randomly selected to win some of these items. As usual, here’s how to enter:

On Twitter, follow Notebook Stories and tweet something containing the words “O’Bon” and “@NotebookStories.

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

On your blog, post something containing the word “O’Bon” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday April 8 at 11:59PM, EST.

Winners will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck everyone!