Review – Daler-Rowney Simply Pocket Sketchbook (3.5×5.5) Hardback

Every time I have the time, I foolishly look in the notebook section at Walmart (both the office and/or crafts). I don’t know why, I always know that the notebooks won’t be great but I’ll be swayed to buy one anyway. In this case it was a hardback pocket sketchbook that I thought was only a dollar (it’s about 5 times that). The book basically has the same dimensions and look as a Moleskine Pocket notebook, but with 72 sheets of 100 gsm (65lb) “sketch” paper (heavier than the Moleskine notebook, lighter than their sketchbook, and with fewer sheets than either) at a discounted price. But is it a worthy “replacement”?

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The cover is very Moleskine reminiscent, being a black sort-of faux leather wrapped around cardboard, but in this case much more shiny and plastic-y. There are visible creases on both the front and back because the spine has been stiffened to remain flat, meaning the covers more or less “hinge” open. There is an elastic band attached to the back cover that does its job of holding the book together when wrapped around and warps the covers a little bit. Also on the back cover, stamped slightly off-center is the Daler-Rowney logo.

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Inside there is no strict “this book belongs to:” or logo page before getting right into the 72 sheets of “ivory” sketching paper, augmented by a very cheap looking/feeling black ribbon bookmark. Inside the back cover is a page-size pocket with cloth folds for strength, and I never use these so I can’t tell you much more than that.

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The paper itself is good. It is indeed fairly thick and heavy, with a grain that is smoother than most sketchbooks I’ve encountered but more toothy than any “notebooks” I’ve used. Aside from telling you that it’s “acid free”, the sticker on the front cover also has a picture of a pencil and a nib (I assume standing in for all ink pens) and it handles these two quite well. If you use pencil, there is a little bit of show-through if you go looking for it, but you could easily use all 144 “pages” of the book. The show-through becomes much more prominent with ink, especially from felt tip, brush, or fountain pens. There is also some minimal bleed-through with the more intense ink pens, but I never got it to actually mark on the next sheet. Still, it reduces the usable space of the sketchbook to 72 pages when using inks. Feathering is also a bit of an issue. There isn’t much of it, but when it happens (mostly with fountain pens) there are long thin lines of ink stretching away from your mark that almost look like little hairs. They’re pretty hard to see from far away, but when you notice them it’s hard to un-see.

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For the price it’s a nice little sketchbook (even if it cost more than I thought). It’s held up to a few months of moderate use from me with virtually no battle-damage, and while I suspect it to be less durable than a Leuchtturm or Moleskine it is short enough that it’ll probably last until you finish with it. The paper is good quality and pleasant to write on, and the handy pocket is there with an elastic band closure to keep every thing tidy. It’s a pretty good, if unrefined, option if you want a black pocket sketchbook.

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Review – Limn Books

I am always on the lookout for new sketch/notebooks. I have hundreds already, but am hopelessly obsessed with paper. I have loads of different styles of notebooks. And when I found these fairly unique notebooks I had to have a look at them. (Disclaimer – They are made by my brother so I may be a little biased.)

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Limn Books come from Austin Texas. At the moment they come in two flavors of 5.5x 8.5. The flavors really only mean that one has red lettering and the other has blue. The only lettering is Limn on the cover and a contact email on the back. They contain 20 sheets of plain paper (no lines) covered by green cover stock. They are hand-sewn, single signature bound then covered with a binding strip.

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The covers are quite nice at protecting the books and looking nice, but they are not stiff enough to write on, so writing will require a table. The paper is almost butter, smooth but with enough grit to hold ink on the page well. Ink bleed is not much of a problem, especially if one is just writing and not drawing. They are comparable to Moleskine books in both paper and cover quality, but lack the elastic and are quite bit cheaper.20121207-001124.jpg

They are nice, inexpensive little books. They write well, are extremely portable, and are generally handy. They are good books for keeping notes, lists, and ideas. They have no real specific purpose in my mind, and are good at anything one wants to do in them, but are not necessarily the best at anything.

Review – Norcom Graph Composition Book

There are a lot of sketchbooks and various types of notebooks out there. But a composition book doesn’t seem to scream “art supply”. The binding is great but they’re obviously meant for writing and not drawing. Luckily (kinda) there are math classes in school as well that need notebooks. And this is one of them, the Norcom no. 76002 graph composition book.

The listed dimensions are nine and three quarters by seven and a half inches, with five squares to an inch. Each page has 49 by 36 squares so the given dimensions are mostly correct, but a little off. The book contains one hundred sheets, and some extra stuff on either inside cover.

The paper itself is thin, but not overly so. Pencil and ink can be seen through but not enough to cause trouble in perceiving or creating what is on the page. Ink from pens does not bleed through, but brush inks will, and if a pen is heavily applied over an area bleeding is a very likely occurrence.

The grid is helpful in the way grids are. It is printed light blue, and does not get in the way of writing, drawing, or graphing.

The spine however is poorly made. The string binding is loose and the pages are almost free to move around. While the pages seem sturdy the spine may need duct tape for prolonged use.

Graph paper is very useful and having it in an easily portable book with a “solid” binding is nice. The book is nice for what it is but there are many better (although more expensive) options out there.