Because I'm somewhat obsessed with finding the ever-elusive perfect notebook, I recently purchased a two-pack of the "Byline" limited edition Field Notes reporter's notebook (see here for more information). I've had a couple of days to play with them so I thought I'd write up my first impressions. My highly informal testing consisted of taking notes during meetings at work and working out an outline and some initial thoughts for a paper I'm writing. I used a JetPens Chibi 2 fine point fountain pen loaded with J. Herbin Violette Pensee violet ink and a Rotring Skynn ballpoint loaded with a purple Monteverde soft roll refill in medium point.
First, let's get the specifications out of the way, courtesy the link above:
- Proudly printed by the good people of eDoc Communications, Mount Prospect, Ill.
- Cover: Neenah Environment 120#DTC “Wrought Iron” with a brute force application of “Federal Blue” soy-based Saphira ink.
- Innards: Cougar Natural 70#T vellum ruled with “Double Knee Duck Canvas” soy-based Saphira ink.
- Cover and innards printed on a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 40” 6-color printing press.
- Bound with bombproof Renz “Double-O” Ring Wire, with appreciation to U.S. Patent #2142816, filed in 1935 by W. Walter Grumbacher.
- Bottom corners rounded to 3/8" (9.5mm) by a Challenge SCM round-corner machine.
- College Ruled Lines: .28" (7.1 mm).
- Notebook dimensions: 3–3/4"× 8" (95mm x 203mm).
- Field Notes uses only the Futura typeface family (Paul Renner, 1927).
- All Field Notes memo books are printed and manufactured in the U.S.A.
- UPC 5849300340
- The paper, oh that paper. Smooth with enough tooth to keep the nib well under control without catching or snagging.
- No show-through, bleeding, or feathering to be found. You could easily write on both sides of the page, which is a great thing for me because I like to write only on one side of a reporter's notebook, then flip it over when I get to the end and continue, using the other sides. I'm not sure how a broad or really wet nib would work here because I don't have one to test with. I suspect a rollerball will also work well, but I haven't tried that yet.
- The solid ring binding and the cover which protects the rings and keeps them from catching on anything
- The slightly narrower width makes the notebook easy to hold in one hand and a little more pocketable than the standard 4" x 8" reporter's notebook.
- The receipt pocket in the back of the notebook is great and I can see that coming in handy.
- The always-entertaining facts, trivia, and extras that Field Notes included on the covers and inside the receipt pocket.
- College ruling feels wrong for this style of notebook. Taking notes for me during a meeting or speech makes my cursive a little faster and looser than my normal handwriting and the ruling just feels too tight for that purpose. It's fine for jotting notes down from written sources or other situations where speed is not an issue. I wish they'd kept the Gregg ruling from their standard steno book. Oddly, I would be fine with the college ruling in a 3" x 5" notebook, which probably boils down to a difference in how I use different notebook sizes.
- While the width is great for holding in one hand, you quickly run out of room if you have large handwriting or if you use much indenting for topics and supporting points.
- No stiff cardboard backer means the notebook is not well-suited for writing when standing up or seated when a table is not available, such as a lecture hall or press event. This is a major failure for this type of notebook, in my opinion.
- The price. At US $12.95 for a two-pack, that's pretty steep for notebooks that are used with such a high turnover rate.
Edited by dkirchge, 24 June 2016 - 14:19.