Tools The Rubik’s Epiphany

Sweet Decay

I sidestepped the evaluation notebook issue in The Gel Dilemma, but this omission has bugged me because I’ve cared about what I’ve written on for a lot longer than I’ve cared what I’ve written with.

A stack of books

The Mom is to blame here. When I was 10 she gave me a journal entitled “Moments Worth Remembering”. There was a rainbow on front. I asked the Mom:

“What’s this?”

“It’s a journal.”

“For?”

“Writing down what you think.”

“About rainbows?”

The idea had never occurred to me… writing for myself rather than for Ms. Ockerman, the 3rd grade teacher.

Every five years, I go back and reread portions of that journal, looking for the same transition. I start the journal and it’s clear that I’m still writing for school; assuming that someone is going to read and grade my journal. Then, halfway through those pages of horrible cursive, I stopped expecting to be graded and started writing for myself. It was a treatise on the coolness of the Rubik’s Cube and it was just for me.

Since the Rubik’s epiphany, I’ve been writing constantly in journals. During college, I spent two years drunkenly plunking down my thoughts on the computer, but I gradually moved back to the handwritten word since, well, notebook computers weren’t there yet and I wanted to write wherever I damn well pleased.

The Goal

The primary goal of a notebook is to get out of the way… to disappear. It does this by perfectly fitting into your writing situation. How accessible does it need to be? What notebook tangibles do you need? How will it withstand a beating? By fitting into how you write, a notebook becomes invisible. It wastes none of your time because any moment you spend noticing the notebook is a moment you could be noticing something else, and writing about it.

But that’s not what makes a notebook truly sexy.

I have years of experience with some notebooks, weeks with others. As you can see, I’ve explored a wide variety of notebooks. The photo above is ordered chronologically, with my oldest journal on the bottom and my newest discovery, the Field Notes brand, the notebook in which I’m writing the first draft of this article, on the top. Like The Gel Dilemma, I’ve evaluated notebooks according to specific buckets of criteria.

My collection represents a wide variety of the notebooks out there, but they are merely the ones I’ve stumbled upon or had recommended. It is by no means a complete or representative collection. But know this: when I see a store with notebooks for sale, I always stop. I examine. I flip the pages and figure out if there is anything new. I do this regardless of current company, country, or convenience. I am a social introvert, but will stop a complete stranger on the street if they’re sporting an unknown notebook.

Purpose

The Purpose section represents the hard facts regarding this selection of notebooks. As a means of simplification, I’m going to use the word notebook to describe the bevy of different writing receptacles I’m going to evaluate. I could have just as easily used the word notepad, journal, workbook, or sketchbook.

As you can see above from the variety of notebooks I’ve used, there are widely differing intended uses. Anything pocket-sized works better than anything else when you’re sitting on a 16-hour flight to New Zealand. Given that intended use significantly affects value, there is no clear winner regarding Purpose, but there is judgment.

Brand Size Binding Cover Paper Weight Pages
Cachet Sketchbook 10.5 x 13.5 Stitched Hard Heavy (70#) ~150
Watson-Guptill Sketchbook 8.5 x 11 Stitched Hard Heavy (70#) ~200
Moleskin Cahier Notebook 7.5 x 9.75 Stitched Soft Medium (20#) 60
Moleskine Reporter Notebook 8 x 5 Stitched Hard Medium (20#) 192
Paperchase Notebook 5.75 x 4 Glue Pleather Thin (20#) ~250
Moleskine Japanese Notebook 3.75 x 5.5 Stitched Hard Medium (20#) 60
Moleskine Notebook 3.75 x 5.5 Stitched Hard Medium (20#) 60
Field Notes Notebook 3.5 x 5.5 Saddle-Stitch Soft Heavy-Medium (50#) 48
Moleskine Cahier Notebook 3.5 x 5.5 Stitched Soft Medium (20#) 64
  • Binding is one of those attributes you’ll never notice until it fails. In my experience, sewn binding never fails. I’ve had both glue-based and stapled bindings blow out on me, usually as a result of purchasing an overall poor quality notebook. A blown-out binding means a dead notebook, and that means everything inside of that notebook will be forgotten.
  • The Japanese Moleskine has zigzag folded pages with heavier paper. This was novel for about a week and then was totally annoying because I kept forgetting where in the zigging and zagging I was currently writing.
  • I love ginormous notebooks with sketch paper. We’re talking MacBook 17″ ginormous here. In all-day off-sites with strict no laptop policies, the massive notebook is a security blanket. This is not an everyday notebook, but grab the biggest damned notebook you can find the next time you’re in an art store. It’s a great conversation piece, while also being a handy place to mentally wander when a meeting goes boring.
  • Paper weight, the thickness of the paper, is the Achilles heel of many of the Moleskines. While I appreciate the off-white’n’yellow coloring of the paper, the paper itself is thin. I’m guessing 20 pound-ish. This bugs me less than the fact that I can see through the paper to the next page if I’ve already written on it. This is a noisy visual distraction that detracts from Moleskine’s general high quality.

Intangibles and Accessories

Getting into the more esoteric aspects of individual notebooks. These features tend to be where folks start to foam at the mouth with regards to their favorite notebook.

Brand Lines Detachable Color (Cover/Paper) Availability Pocket Band
Cachet Sketchbook None No Shiny Black / White Art store No No
Watson-Guptill Sketchbook None No Matte Black / White Art store No No
Moleskin Cahier Notebook None Partial Brown / Off-White Everywhere Yes No
Moleskine Reporter Notebook None No Shiny Black / White Everywhere Yes Yes
Paperchase Notebook Grid No Shiny Black / White Borders No No
Moleskine Japanese Notebook None No Shiny Black / White Everywhere Yes Yes
Moleskine Notebook None No Shiny Black / White Everywhere Yes Yes
Field Notes Notebook Grid No Brown / White Mail Order No No
Moleskine Cahier Notebook None Partial Brown / Off-White Everywhere Yes No
  • I’m fervently anti-line on the page, but for the sake of science, I’ve tried a couple of lined notebooks. The result: yeah, you eventually stop seeing the lines, but read that again, you stop seeing what? I don’t need lines on a notebook. I needed lines in 3rd grade when I was learning how to write. I’m good now, thanks.
  • Several Moleskine versions offer detachable paper for a portion of the notebook and this apparently floats some boats, but I never rip pages out of a notebook. I keep the notebooks which survive forever, which means a notebook with ripped-out pages is a violated notebook.
  • Notebooks are always black. Sorry brown.
  • Inner pockets are like mail rules. By using them, I forget whatever I put into them.
  • The elastic band differentiates many of the Moleskines, but it also encourages a curiously annoying habit — you save stuff. The band gives the comforting illusion that your notebook is an enclosure, so you start shoving receipts, postcards, and business cards into the notebook. If packratting information is your schtick, the band helps, but I find once I start packratting, my notebook becomes less a writing tool and more like luggage. This is a mixed blessing as we’ll see in moment.
  • There are huge families of notebooks that I haven’t included in my evaluation and the reason is they have too many moving parts. Ring bindings, refillable, tabbed, multicolored, combinable, and linkable notebooks — there’s something for everyone. All I see in many of these features is an opportunity for my notebook to explode.

Sweet Decay

This section was originally titled “durability” because any notebook evaluation must analyze how a notebook is going to survive. We need to understand how a notebook can take a beating because what’s sexy about a notebook is how it survives.

Scars are stories. What I want out of my notebook is that it looks better after three months of beatings. A great notebook decays gracefully. A great notebook weathers its use and becomes more than what it began as. As a notebook is beaten up, its character improves. Therefore, the ratings in this table are different. They explain how, after heavy usage, the various aspects of the notebook survived.

There is additional measure on this table, Character. Character is a purely personal opinion of how the entire notebook looked after three months. As I’m not going to anoint an overall winner, consider Character to be the best gauge of my overall opinion of Purpose, Intangibles, and Decay.

Brand Binding Cover Paper Character
Cachet Sketchbook Poor Good Excellent Unremarkable
Watson-Guptill Sketchbook Good Good Excellent Unremarkable
Moleskin Cahier Notebook Excellent Good Good Wanna-be
Moleskine Reporter Notebook Excellent Excellent Good Hip
Paperchase Notebook Poor Good Poor Embarrassing
Moleskine Japanese Notebook Excellent Excellent Good Hip
Moleskine Notebook Excellentt Excellent Good Hip
Field Notes Notebook Good Excellent Excellent Hip
Moleskine Cahier Notebook Excellent Excellent Excellent Hip
  • There is only one disaster among the nine books, and that’s the Paperchase notebook. No surprise here, it was a Borders impulse buy. It has a thin pleather cover, grid lines, and I was a third of the way through it before the pages just started falling out.
  • Moleskine is over-represented in my sample, but that’s because they survived. I’m certain my sample of notebooks would be larger, except that I discarded many notebooks when they decayed quickly and poorly.
  • Yeah, there’s an entire article to be written about how the ink lands on the paper.
  • The Moleskine catalog is obnoxiously large, but in their quest to be anything to anyone, they’ve found some sweet spots. In particular, I think the small Cahier notebook is a tough combination of cover, binding, and stitching. Yeah, it’s brown, but convenient size and durability makes it my go-to traveling notebook.
  • While the decay of the elastic band isn’t listed here, it’s worth calling out that represents a decay paradox. First off, who doesn’t want to be the dude from The English Patient where he’s capturing everything he’s seeing, feeling, and touching in his notebook? I do. The band helps here except when it blows out and becomes a limp black string hanging from my thoughts.

The Whole Story

There’s no obvious winner here because there are far too many uses for a good notebook. For me, notebooks are the home for the primal drafts of my articles. Right now, I’m finishing a draft of this piece on a flight to New York. There are two notebooks sitting in my lap that I’m using for source material because both are my New York notebooks.

How do you want to remember something you’ve done or thought? Your memory, while vast, is apt to alter itself according to your mood, your opinion, the time of day. And it fades and loses things over time. This is why we take pictures. Memory, while often comprehensive in terms of storage, is lousy at reconstruction.

Any context you can capture aids in reconstruction, which is why I write it all down. But better yet, my notebook, through its design, captures context as well. This is why New York looks like this:

A stack of New York books

There’s a story within a story here. It’s not just what I wrote down, it’s how what I wrote in captured what I didn’t consciously see.

57 Responses

  1. I love writing and all the materials associated with it…

    How about writing implements pens, etc.. AND your hand.

  2. Great article! I also have a bit of a notebook fetish. I’ll always use Moleskines with thin paper and a real pen (black ink only), but it looks like their waterpaint-resistant books would be something for you. Same color of paper, but only thicker.

  3. I just bought a set of pocket moleskin notebooks. I had to drive all over town to find them but it was worth it. I love jotting down my inchoate thoughts as they occurs. Sometimes I get a blog posting out of it and other times it’s just to clear my head. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi,

    I wrote a post about your post. It’s in portuguese (with credits):

    http://www.colmeia.tv/blog/2008/03/27/nerdfotainment-nerdpower/

    Now it becomes a keynote for some microsoft event in Brazil:

    http://www.colmeia.tv/blog/2008/06/01/mix-essentials-nerdfotainment-nerd-esta-na-moda/

    check the credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielfilho/2534583514/

    So, I am executive producer at colmeia and we made in Brazil a small moleskine for friends and clients. Since you like it so much it, I can send one to you.

    What you think? Send me your address by mail.

  5. D. Derek 9 years ago

    Fantastic post. It’s stuff like this that makes the Internets great.

  6. Geoffrey Wiseman 9 years ago

    I’ve been looking for something with the aesthetics/size of a notebook, but with some kind of clamping binding system so I can fill it with scrap paper, since there’s always more of that than I can use, and it seems silly to waste fresh paper.

  7. Thanks for your comments about Moleskines. I’ve always considered getting one, but the price has always been a bit steep for my fleeting use of notebooks. I’ll definitely keep what you said in mind when I next consider one while in line at a bookstore.

  8. Bernd 9 years ago

    Thanks for this inspiring article.

    How do you handle pens?

    This is the only thing preventing me from actually using notebook. I would love to have a moleskin with some means to attache a pen when not in use.

  9. steph 9 years ago

    I’m sure the paper geeks will be by shortly. I swear by Clairefontaine notebooks. They’re my “carry around the office” notebook. The 90g/m^2 paper means you can write on both sides with no bleeding. I love graph paper, so I’m happy, but they do make some blank books. The laminated covers work well enough, and no band for them to become luggage.

  10. Jonathon Mah 9 years ago

    Rands, I’d be more interested in how you use your notebooks. Do you refer back to them regularly? Just the most recent one, or all of them? And how do you find what you’re looking for: Do you take the nuggets, write them up, and file them separately? I’m trying to keep my entire life on my hard drive, by transcribing and scanning any notes I make “offline”; otherwise I just see my thoughts being lost in time. But maybe that’s a good thing.

  11. Greg Monigold 9 years ago

    Bernd,

    Pilot G2 Mini pens stay perfectly clipped to the elastic band around the smaller Moleskine notebooks.

  12. Murphy 9 years ago

    I’ve been writing in journals for about 6 years now, which seems like an unfortunately short time, because I absolutely love it. For all that though, I bought my first moleskin only a month ago. It’s… ok. It sits in my back pocket opposite my wallet, and I like the portability of it, but I’ll probably never buy one again. Instead, I’ll go back to making my own.

    I take whatever paper I want, whatever size, weight, and color, then sew it together and bind it by hand. It takes about a day to build the thing, but it’s got more character oozing from a single corner than anything I’ve bought premade. I highly recommend it.

  13. Thanks for this. Notebooks reviews are often a little dry but I found this great. I guess it has to do with the purpose of the notebook. If you use a notebook for your shopping list many things just don’t matter. If you use one as an index of thought and memory then your interaction with it needs to be as seamless as possible.

    @MURPHY:

    I take whatever paper I want, whatever size, weight, and color, then sew it together and bind it by hand. It takes about a day to build the thing, but it’s got more character oozing from a single corner than anything I’ve bought premade. I highly recommend it.

    Thanks for the idea.

  14. You missed le Rhodia! Just got a couple of them from The Writing Desk and love them.

  15. A post after my own heart. I started journaling in elementary school as well, marking 8th grade graduation with a dramatic narrative of the night I spied my crush slow-dancing with another girl.

    Each year since 1989 I’ve purchased hard-bound books by Michel Publishing (or Michel Design Works) called “Our Country Diary”, strictly for day-to-day diary entries and pasting in business cards, tickets, and various scraps. As far as notebooks for journaling, my only requirement is that they are “ringed” because I need to be able to flip them open all the way to save space and allow a flat writing surface without a hump in the center at the binding. I go through journaling lulls, which I later regret because my memory is so poor, but I get a real kick out of reading past material.

    Sometimes I wonder what will happen to my journals when I am no longer around. What should happen to stuff like that?

  16. great insight, thanks for pulling this post together!

  17. Excellent post, best read I’ve had in weeks. No matter how many electronic journaling methods I try, nothing beats a Moleskine for me.

  18. How inspiring! I really enjoyed the read, even if I scarsely consider myself a notebook person. Still, if I’d decide to go for one, I’d go for a moleskine, I guess.

  19. A good evaluation. I really dig the moleskine’s except for the bleed on my fountain pen. I switched to using a finer nib and that helped get around that problem.

  20. nickd 9 years ago

    @Geoffrey Wiseman

    When I was a kid I used to have a moleskine sized binder (A5 ish) the spine of which was sprung like a bulldog clip. You’d just bend it back on itself to insert new paper. I’d forgotten all about it until now — I wonder if they still exist.

  21. I go back and forth. For engineering work I use a Moleskine with a grid. I’m far from perfect at keeping things lined up and the grid seems to come in handy a lot.

    But I keep one of the very small Moleskine drawing pads as a Journal. I like it because it accepts water colors and colored pencils and feels great. Plus the small size means that it doesn’t take up a lot of space when I go back-country backpacking. For me that’s essential.

    Isaiah

  22. theft 9 years ago

    I’m interested in Field Notes, but I am concerned about what “three-staple saddle-stitch binding” means. Is it stapled or stitched with thread? Both? What?

  23. Great post on a topic I thought no one really cared much about. I use notebooks for work, but rarely for personal use. This article got me to start really thinking hard about that balance. I think it’s time I started using my notebooks for personal use more. There’s something exceptionally more creative about the actual process of writing as opposed to typing. Liberating, organic, real. Typing always seemed a bit synthetic to me, but, for various reasons has become the most efficient. Maybe it’s time to start out organic before putting pixels to screen.

    Oh, one thing I must disagree with, lines are essential. For me, at least. I have a horrible tendency to write with a downward slant when presented with a blank sheet of paper. And, no, it doesn’t matter how high I tilt the page, even at 170 degrees up I will tend to slant my writing downward.

  24. Worth checking out, the Pentalic Modeskin notebook:

    http://www.fineartstore.com/Catalog/tabid/365/List/1/CategoryID/16182/Level/a/Default.aspx

    Annoying logo on the back, but otherwise a decent notebook. Stitched binding, very nice paper, pocket in the back, ribbon placeholder, available in various sizes. The one I’ve been using has held up well. The cover extends beyond the pages and so helps to protect them. Good value, too.

  25. The Moleskine Cahier’s that you like come in both Black and Brown. They are easy to find online if you can’t find them where you are from.

  26. You mention that the Moleskine Cahier notebooks are brown – they also make them with black covers, in all the sizes they offer. I love how they wear, but the thin paper doesn’t work well with a fountain pen, my preferred writing implement.

    Moleskine also has new softcover notebooks, and they’ve reintroduced the Volant. I’m excited to try them, they were the best notebook they offered before they got replaced with the Cahier. They make them in the usual large and pocket sizes, as well as an extra-large and extra-small.

    I haven’t tried the Rhodia Webnotebook, but their small notebooks (smaller than the Cahier) are excellent. You can find them here: http://www.vickerey.com/prh400.html

    While they’re stapled, I’ve never had one fail on me. I like to turn the covers inside-out to conceal the logo, and I’ve replaced the cover entirely on a couple.

  27. Me, I have a fetish for Japanese notebooks. I don’t really know why; something about the aesthetics of the covers, the Engrish slogans, the odd sizes. There’s a Japanese stationery story I love to go to, but I always have to restrain myself from buying more notebooks I don’t need (because, to be honest, I don’t write in a notebook all that much.)

    On lines: I definitely need them. That may be because I’m a lefty, so my hand immediately covers whatever I’ve just written, making it difficult to tell whether my writing’s going straight.

  28. The Alwych notebook provides thick creamy pages and is (nearly) waterproof. The really small one fits in most jacket pockets. I like lines personally.

    http://www.alwych.co.uk/

  29. I apologize if this shows up a dozen times. I’ve having connectivity issues at the moment.

    As much as I love paper notebooks and notes, I tend to flip flop too much on Digital vs Analog notes to make them effective. I start a paper notebook and then drop it after writing maybe 10 pages.

    Generally I like digital because it’s more portable. I can jot notes and ideas on Evernote via my phone and get tot hem anywhere. On the other hand, it’s more structured and restrictive. I still dislike carrying a notebook even though I always carry my “nerd bag”. It just ends up being a hassle to pull the notebook out and use it.

    On the other hand, I have a stack of one shot notes I’ve made on my work desk and having them consolidated might have been a better plan in hind site.

  30. This was a great post, but please advise on how to write on unlined paper without having each line take its own unique and special path across the paper.

  31. Great post. You must be one of those people in the world gifted with legible handwriting. I need the lines — I need them bad.

    There is no perfect pad, I’d argue. It depends on need. Right now on my desk, I’m loving the thick paper and multi-colored end-stripe of Miquelrius Number 6. I’ve got a pile of horrid steno type pads by Tops for quick reporting. I’ve got a beautiful faux leather covered Moleskin reporter’s pad and a couple of their plain 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 64-page journals that I use as hipster PDAs. And, of course, for the big picture a Canson 11 x 14, 65 lb. sketch pad.

  32. Moleskine pocket cahier for the win.

    I tuck a golf pencil inside (yes a pencil, sorry kids they’re easily replaceable and basically foolproof) and put a rubber band around the notebook, which provides enough pressure to keep the pencil inside and allows me to tuck something in next to the rubber band (but not really packrat).

  33. I love absolutely everything about the Field Notes journals–better paper than the Cahiers, better lines than the Cahiers, no problem with detachable pages falling out, like the Cahier…but the binding is awful. If you put any wear at all on your journals, the Field Notes staples are simply unacceptable.

    If I could find a Field Notes journal with a Cahier binding, I’d have the perfect pocket notebook.

  34. My friend at work Rod Graves has a great system for his moleskine. I’ve shamelessly stolen it.

    He prints out a lined page of paper the same size as his moleskine. He keeps this lined page behind the page he is currently writing on and voila he has lined paper. When he moves on to the next page he moves the lined sheet with him.

  35. There is another option for obtaining the perfect notebook: bind one yourself. For anyone with opinions about books and bindings, this is an instructive and satisfying exercise.

    And how often does one get an excuse to obtain a bone folder?

  36. Great post – thanks. And I would so like to have a bigger copy of that first picture: it’d make the perfect desktop picture. Are you willing to share?

  37. Phenomenal post!

    And on this:

    “Binding is one of those attributes you’ll never notice until it fails.”

    I couldn’t agree more. 😉

  38. I went to order Field Notes a few months ago, but 3 of them (with shipping) totaled over $15… For 48 page notebooks with a staple? I looked around my desk and saw some a pad of thick graph paper, so I took 8 sheets of that, cut them in half, folded, stapled, and made my first “pocket pad.”

    I’m on my 5th one of these. They stay in my back pocket at all times. Whereas I used to stay surrounded by dozens of scraps of paper, I now just have the pad. This is no good for journaling, but it’s great for all the lists, phone numbers, and other information detritus that comes into my life.

  39. James 9 years ago

    Thanks for this follow-up to the gel-dilemma. Very thoughtful. For those of your readers that are, like me, addicted to the Moleskine pocket notebooks – the ubiquitous heavy plastic cause bracelets (e.g., “Live Strong”) are the perfect pen holder when wrapped perpendicular to the built-in elastic band. Also good for when the elastic fails.

  40. new favorite blog – a grand discovery.

    i’m printing this post and reading it to my cat as a bedtime story.

  41. Maybe it’s because we spend our days working digitally that pen and paper increasingly have an almost religious attraction.

    I’m a fan of Miquelrius notebooks, especially the flexible notebooks, which take some abuse and come in blank, lined, or (my favorite) graph/grid.

    http://www.miquelrius.com/swf/index.htm

  42. You should probably check out this website sooner rather than later:

    http://www.blackcover.net

  43. After a post like that, I simply cannot let another moment go buy without showing you these journals:

    http://www.epica.com

    Handmade, hand bound, hand stitched Italian Leather Journals from Florence with raised spines and dozens of paper styles.

    There is something about having your fingers around a pen and letting the hand glide across a journal like this that just takes me back to another time. Oh, and they can also be personalized with your name, in any color and any position. Hope you all enjoy.

  44. Francisco 9 years ago

    It’s not like you need more contenders, but

    I thought I’d point out this one:

    http://www.deskstore.com/epages/deskstore.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/Deskstore/Products/LE.4004.R/SubProducts/LE.4004.R-0001

    Imagine a sturdy letter(A4)-sized moleskine, with

    200+ pages of satisfyingly thick gridded paper…

    It has margins and page numbers, as well as index

    pages.

  45. Michael Margolis 9 years ago

    If you like moleskines have you checked out modofly.net?

  46. I eagerly ordered some Field Notes Brand notebooks, but when I found out that their store uses PayPal for payment — and that I couldn’t use my credit card — I jumped ship over to the Moleskine camp.

    It occurred to me that one of the most productive times of my life was when I was a teenager. A neighbor of ours worked for a steel company and gave us piles of notebooks, all emblazoned with the logo of the company. I used those notebooks to capture my adolescent thoughts, design rockets, do calculations, you name it.

    Here’s hoping that I can recapture the freedom and creativity of those days!

  47. Steven Prince 9 years ago

    hey, stupid question, but i’m been trying to get a hold of those extra large moleskine notebooks, the one that looks like its 300-500 pages( like the large on in the picture). I know i’m missing the obvious but can someone point me in the right direction?

  48. I love the Boorum & Pease 21 R 300 Notebooks. They are absolutely fantastic and I like them better than my Moleskine ones because the paper is excellent!

  49. Bonkbonk 9 years ago

    I like Mead.

    End of discussion.

  50. Excellent post. I, too, am in the anti-line school of thought. I love to let my hand wander around the page as it pleases and so I usually spring for artist notebooks. I’m a big fan of the Canson Basic Sketchbook series – they come in various sizes. I think the biggest is a 10½” × 13½” and they come with acid0free, heavyweight paper that soaks up the ink of a my pen beautifully. The cover is nice and textured (and waterproof), and the binding is extremely sturdy. Turn to any page in the book and the pages lie flat.

    Not a fan of the Moleskine – too small for my taste, even the bigger sizes.

  51. I depend on my Cahiers for work…but since I carry them in my back pocket and am constantly taking them out, putting them back, sitting on them et al, the covers were tending to tear along the binding (which itself never failed).

    My solution was to completely wrap the covers in duct tape at the outset. The result looks like something out of Mad Max and is pretty much indestructible for my purposes.

    Pilot G2 0.38mm goes in the other hip pocket parallel to the wallet, like all my pens for the last two decades. Never broken one yet.

  52. Can someone recommend a notebook *together* with a pen?

    I like to keep the pen with the book but either the pen points away from the notebook by an angle (when it has a little plastic nub under the clip) or the clip is too thick to force it into the cover of the binding.

    Also it shouldn’t be longer than the notebook so it’s protected while still be long enough to rest comfortable between index finger and thumb.

  53. Steven 8 years ago

    This isn’t as classy(??) as a moleskine but i think it does the job. I use it for work with a Vanishing Point FP and i have no issues.

    http://www.dayrunner.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product3_10051_10006_124444_-1_false_10051

    It’s a Five Star Advance 2 Subject notebook. it has folders and index cards and the lot. 100 sheets i think

  54. klaatu 8 years ago

    Talk Rands;

    Another aspect to consider when selecting a journal book is whether it’s receptive to painting and drawing. Sometimes you see something that words can’t describe and you just have to draw it. Later on, when you open the page and look at the artwork of flotsam and jetsam, you can ascribe language to it.

    Although I do my own artwork for decades, the book Letters from Sabine is a good example.

  55. Two Am 8 years ago

    I have a problem with planners. They are very limiting because the different sections tend to define everything too closely. Plus, I just don’t want a planner. I want a journal as well and it seems silly to carry several notebooks around. Every year I buy a thick composition book; I print free calendar pages from the internet then glue them to the first twelve pages. The rest of the book, unfettered from predefined sections, serves as my journal/working notebook/grocery list etc. etc. I have a cashiers metal clip on the back for bills or transitory important documents and staple a file rubber band to the front cover to serve as a bookmark/clasping device. I stick a pilot fine point from the front cover. The notebooks are nicely broken in by july; the black and white covers become plyable and you can see where my grip has worn away the cardboard and ink.

  56. French Guy Bobby 8 years ago

    I believe there is an error in the chart– the Moleskine Reporters Notepad does have about 30 perforated pages in the back.

  57. If you want consistent results, you could look into purchasing scientific / laboratory notebooks:

    http://www.snco.com/pricelist.htm

    (Many other sites available, the one above was simply at the top of the search results.)

    These notebooks are important in that they are used to back up results in scientific journals, and can even be considered legal documents in some patent cases (e.g., “when was process X by company Y /really/ invented?”).

    http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci/cpurrin1/notebookadvice.htm

    http://www.google.com/search?q=LABORATORY+NOTEBOOK

    If there’s a college or university near where you live, you may want to drop by their book store and see what they offer.