I’ve already reviewed the Moleskine pocket notebook in hardback, but I’ve also used the softback version, and since there are a few key differences besides the obvious, I though I’d highlight them. So this is only half a review, if you want to know about the paper you can look up my other Moleskine pocket review.
So the cover is obviously soft. It is a lot thinner and as such you can see the binding through it, especially on the back where you can see the attachment points for the elastic band. They are a bit intrusive and noticeable. The cover is blank aside from the name Moleskine stamped rather deeply into the back cover. The look is a bit like the regular Moleskine, but the pages are cut the the same length as the cover, and it looks a bit more shiny. The front cover can roll up on itself and then bounce back, but it never fully regains its former shape. The back is much less flexible due to the back pocket that comes Moleskine standard. The cover also feels almost moist and rubbery, and any minor scratches and such simply bounce out unlike the Rhodia Webnotebook. The softness does mean that the elastic band leaves very noticeable marks on the cover and sometimes the paper. The spine in contrast to the hardcover feels much more durable and able to stand up to long, continued use.
Which style of cover is better is a decision you have to make. This one is flexible, easily fits in a pocket, and is harder the permanently damage than the hard cover, but it offers less page protection and stability for writing, so it’s give and take.
Well, it’s that time again, time to talk about a little black book. This one’s particularly good for fountain pens. It’s the Rhodia Web-notebook pocket black version.
The dimensions are almost exactly the same as the Moleskine, with the exception of it being slightly thicker. The cover is a strange, and easily warped, faux-leather. It is quite pleasant to hold, and the spine sustains much less damage than with stiffer cover books. Not to say the cover is flexible, it is definitely hard, though the Moleskine still holds the record for notebook most like a rock, the Rhodia does have a little give in it. Also on the front cover is a stamped Rhodia logo and an elastic band holds it all together. The standard pocket in the back tops it all off.
Inside there are the same number of pages as the Moleskine. The pages are thicker though, the first page is unusable and gives you their specks. They are slightly off white with a bit of an orangish tint. This version has them lines with thin grey lines and a slight margin on top. The paper is insanely smooth, as in the smoothest paper I’ve ever written on, right there with Clairefontaine, being made by the same company that makes sense though. It takes ink well, and it even dries relatively fast on there, though there are some problems with bleed through on broader nibs or wetter inks. It should be noted that the paper is different from the larger notebook paper.
So overall, if you have a fountain pen and need a notebook, this is a better choice for you than almost any other notebook on the market. Though if you’re drawing with flex pens or thick brushes be aware that you’ll still only be able to use half the pages in the book. Though bleeding onto the next sheet is something I haven’t seen. Are these the best pocket notebooks? It depends on what type of pen you’re using, and how much you care about the feel of your notebook, because this one does feel quite different.
Notebooks again. Is Moleskine your style but you find the paper a little lacking? Well Leuchtturm claims to have you covered with the 1917 line of notebooks. Specifically I’m reviewing the black pocket (dot) hardcover version.
Starting with the outside, the dimensions are nearly the same width- and thickness-wise as the Molsekine, but about half an inch taller. As the Field Notes and Clairefontaine pocket books are the same size (lacking thickness) you could compare it to them as well. The cover is in the black Moleskine style and is almost indistinguishable. It is also fairly flexible, something entirely absent in the Moleskine. It has an elastic band that feels slightly cheaper, but nonetheless works well. The most disappointing thing is the spine, which constantly creases, cracks and groans. The problems appears the be that the cover on the joints is separate from the binding. The binding does feel solid, so I don’t believe it will fail, but the spine will definitely encounter cosmetic damage with prolonged use.
Inside there is a standard back pocket, an address and name blank, and several table of contents pages, helpful little things if I do say so. Also the last few (six) sheets can be torn out and are as such perforated. Each page is numbered and of course there’s a bookmark ribbon. It has about the same sheet count, and same page color as the Moleskine, but with better paper. The Leuchtturm has 80 gram paper that is supposedly ink resistant. I can say it is, I didn’t even get bleed-through with a flex pen. That being said, everything shows through to the point of being annoying, even a ballpoint pen. Only pencil makes for a clean, two-sided drawing experience. Though the paper, unfortunately, is not very smooth at all, especially not as much so as the Molsekine or Clairefontaine books. You’ll get a lot of feedback on this one. The rulings are all standard and nothing to write home about.
So, how does the Leuchtturm perform? Well. It performs well. It’s cheaper than the completion and better in some ways. Most of these things are up to personal preference. I would say the binding is a little weak on this one, but other than that it’s up to par.
Do you have trouble with making your handwriting look good? Do you feel that many of the lined notebooks are ruled just to small for you? Then the Clairefontaine Classic Wire Bound French Ruled Notebook may be for you.
The notebook’s size is about 6¾” X 8½”. It comes with 60 sheets of 90 gram paper. The paper is a nice, crisp white. And it really is white, it’s brighter than the white in a composition notebook, and is a very stark contrast to most of the higher quality off-white, moleskine-type notebooks.
The quality of the paper is superb. It is buttery smooth and provides a great writing surface. There is no feedback to speak of; so if you like feed back you should be looking elsewhere. The thickness and smoothness of the paper means it handles ink very well. Pencils, ballpoint pens, technical pens, and even fountain pens are handled with ease; though there is a prolonged drying time. Some very wet writing implements, like heavier fountain pens or the Nano-liner, do ghost and occasionally bleed through, but for the most part you can use both sides of the sheet if you so desire.
The ruling on the particular book I have is French ruling, or Seyès if you will. It is designed to make one’s handwriting better. It has five thin lines between each pair of thick lines, which allows for the various heights of minuscule and majuscule letters (upper and lower case). It also has lines running vertically that act as indentation guides for paragraphs and the like. It is great for practicing handwriting or for easy spacing of lines, though it can seem overwhelming at times.
The binding is a simple spiral that is heavy duty and will allow the book to lie flat easily. The cover is a simple piece of card stock that has nothing special about it. It is covered in a design that I frankly find ugly, but then again I like plain black books so what do I know? It serves its purpose well.
Over all this is a superb book. The paper is incredible, both to write on and to look at. The French ruling is very helpful in writing and can also serve as a general (stress that) guide while drawing little sketches and the like. The binding is nice and simple, doing its job well. It’s not particularly an art book, but it’s a very good writing/note book.
A little while ago I reviewed the Moleskine blank pocket book. Now in the same notebook direction I’ll take a quick look at the Moleskine blank large book. Will the classic renowned Moleskine hold up to closer scrutiny? We’ll see.
The cover is cardboard wrapped in faux-leather. It’s fairly sturdy, though it does begin to wear at the corners with continuous use. Though if you find a notebook that doesn’t I’ll be amazed. The binding is rounded, flexible and lies flat. It does have a tendency to crease when opened for too long. It also tears eventually, and if the book is really old it even begins to split down the back. This only happens toward the end of the book’s life (the last twenty pages or so). Around the cover is an elastic band which does a good job holding everything together but will eventually bend the cover in.
The pages are super thin. There are 240 of them in this half-inch book. They are of okay stock. Anything heavier than a ballpoint pen bleeds through but not usually onto the next page, it can just be seen through the page. The paper is smooth and writes well, the fine texture is just enough to prevent slips of the hand.
The first and last pages are attached to the binding, rendering them mostly useless. In the back is the standard pocket, which contains the story of Moleskine (and a quality control number which is actually quite useful). In the front is a ‘who owns this’ page with a reward blank. I don’t find those particularly useful but they are there.
So are they worth it? Like all notebooks it depends on what you’re looking for (unless they just fall apart, those are useless no matter what). They are great for free range writing with sketches to enhance the look. As a sketchbook they work best with pencil as most anything else will bleed through. They are very solid in construction, the front cover especially can take a severe beating. They have very few organizational features, which some may find liberating and some infuriating. Like I said, best as a free range writing/sketch book. Alright as a travel log or such. They’re decent, and the ones I use all the time.
As I may or may not have mentioned here before, I take a small pocket book everywhere I go. The brands and styles vary, but the idea for me really doesn’t. I generally don’t use lines, and I prefer hard backs because they are harder to damage etc. And one brand has quite a large hold on the market for such books, whether they are journals or pocketbooks. So today we’ll be seeing if the Moleskine notebooks are really as good as they’re cracked up to be.
The one I’m looking at is a Moleskine blank pocket notebook in the classic black. It’s a standard notebook size in terms of width and height. It’s a little thinner than most due to the extremely thin paper inside. The binding is nice and solid. The cover is sturdy and wear resistant, though it can only take so much before the faux-leather starts to wear. The spine holds up, it doesn’t really break, it lies flat and rarely creases at the joints. There is also an elastic band attached to the back that wraps around and nicely seals the book together, but it does warp the cover eventually.
The pages are thin as previously noted. They are super smooth but not slick, making writing easy and stifling bleeding over the page or hand slipping. However their thinness and readiness to take ink causes easy bleed through, especially with a fountain pen or similar device. Most colored pens also bleed through so I would recommend pencils or ballpoint pens unless you only want to use every other page.
There is a pocket in the back for keeping notes, it’s great but nothing terribly special or amazing. It holds what it needs to hold and doesn’t increase the thickness of the book too much.
So are Moleskines all they’re cracked up to be? No, not really. The binding is superb but the page quality is mediocre. All of the little things that were once innovations of the Moleskine are now present in other notebooks and possibly done better. It is really nothing special, but it is much better than the cheaper look-alikes. I continue to use Moleskines because I like the sturdy binding and I like the consistency within my notebooks. If you want the best you should look elsewhere, but if you want a nice, durable, consistent notebook, try Moleskine.
Well, Limn books have come out with a new products, let’s look at one of the new quarter-size pocket books. (Disclaimer – these books are made by my brother, although that doesn’t affect my judgement at all.)
The cover is made of a light blue card stock. It’s tough and can take a beating. Inside are twenty-two thin paper sheets. Despite being thin, they too are tough. They are slick and resist ink. It takes it a moment for the ink to dry, but they rarely bleed through and only when one keeps applying ink to the same location over and over. Their slickness makes them wonderful to write on and they have just enough grit to be alright for sketching as well.
The book is bound by a nice hand-sewn single signature, and the spine is covered with a high quality binding strip like all the other Limn books. The binding is flexible and durable and can really take a beating. You could even tear a page out and it wouldn’t harm it too much (though I wouldn’t recommend that.)
They’re about as tall as most pocket books, but a little wider. They do require a hard surface to write on. They fit well in larger pockets, and handbags, backpacks and such.
These books are great for taking everywhere to take notes on, write down ideas, or write lists on. They are just like the regular limn books only smaller. They have the same nice feel and are still incredibly sturdy. They do lend themselves more to writing than to drawing though, but is still an all around, versatile book.
One of the worst things about different types of notebooks is that they vary in the page setup. Some have lines, some graphs, others are blank. Even the lined ones vary in the ruling between the lines. And what if you want to make a note on a sketch? Sure, you can just write it somewhere on the page, but it never really looks right, does it? Likewise with drawing on lined paper. Or what if you want to draw a diagram with a description. It will never go in any space you have left on the page, especially if it’s a long one.
Well, Bienfang appears to have those people covered with the NoteSketch Book (all in different fonts so you remember it better). But we have to start with the covers first. The front cover is a nice card stock, heavy and not likely to rip out. It can take a mild beating, regular use is easily handled, but abuse isn’t. The back is cardboard and quite nice. It is light but strong, and will support drawing on ones lap or holding it in front of a subject. The paper inside is a little over half blank with the rest being roughly college ruled lines. It’s nice, but as thin as printer paper. It will only take pencil or technical pens before bleeding and wrinkling. Of course, for its intended use this is no problem. This also helps keep the book slim and it easily fits into most bags. They come in a variety of page sizes but those are all virtually identical, with the page size you like being the only deciding factor.
Personally I can’t go anywhere without one of these. I don’t use them much at home, but on the road or just outside they are perfect. I don’t know about anyone else, but I only bring a pencil and a pen when I’m out, so any drawbacks from thin paper are negligible. And the ability to write notes and have space for it fits what I do. I love having a set aside space to put my thoughts or the story behind a drawing. If thats what you like to do, or you like to draft or draw diagrams that require explanation, this is the book for you. If thats not your thing, then this may just not interest you.
Strathmore sketchbooks, specifically in this review the 400 series, 100 page, 8.5″X5.5″ sketchbook.
Design-wise, the cover is acceptable. It certainly does its job and displays all the necessary information in a way that is easy to read, and in three different languages. The stock of the cover and the cardboard of the back are thick and nice, capable of standing up to a great deal of punishment (the back more so, obviously). The back is unbendable without breaking it first, creating a solid drawing surface away from a table, if that’s how you like to draw. The book is spiral bound, the metal of said spirals is superb, they are strong and have enough give and bounce that they don’t bend into a different shape easily. The spine also keeps the pages very secure.
The paper in this book is a medium thickness, thicker than 20-pound, thinner than heavier drawing paper. It is relatively smooth, but still coarse. Good for the main purpose of the book; sketching, but poor for fine detail work as the bumps create imperfections. It is still much less coarse than other sketchbooks by Strathmore. Pencil and ink are taken well by the paper. Pencil smudges fairly easily, and shows through to some degree. Ink is absorbed quickly, making drying time fast and can be seen through the paper. There are 100 sheets in this book, which seems a large number, making the book fat. But that is hardly a complaint. The pages are very nice for their purpose of sketching.
I take a sketchbook everywhere, I try to vary what I take and where, but when all I want to do is a simple sketch, a Strathmore is what I take. They are easy to get, fair priced and a good quality. I would not try to create a “finished” piece on one, but that is not their intended purpose. They help one practice, hone skills, and create technique by being very durable and useable in a variety of conditions. This size of book is great for a bag or carry in the hand (half the size of a sheet of copy paper). It is a great thing to have when one is out and about and would like to sketch anything.