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Field Notes Byline Limited Edition Reporter's Notebook

field notes byline reporters notebook

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4 replies to this topic

#1 dkirchge

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 14:18

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
What I liked:
  • 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. 
What I didn't like:
  • 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.
The Byline is not what I'm used to in a traditional reporter's notebook and that's a good thing for the most part. Field Notes definitely made some significant upgrades to the basic concept, particularly with regards to the quality of the paper and the ring binding; both are fantastic. While I wish it was the 4" width I'm used to, I will probably adapt to the width with little difficulty. I would definitely prefer Gregg ruling but again, I can live with and adapt to the ruling they chose. However, I absolutely despise the lack of a stiff backing -- that's a fault or omission I can't overlook. I would rather have seen the thick covers from the steno book used here than the cover with the receipt pocket they went with. In the end, I think Field Notes made a great notebook with the Byline but it's not a great notebook for me. I won't be in a hurry to replace these once the two I purchased are used up.
 
I'm looking forward to hearing what thoughts other people have about the Byline.

Edited by dkirchge, 24 June 2016 - 14:19.

-- Doug K.

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#2 mmg122

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 15:16

Agree with most of your pros and cons, although I'm glad they used college ruled as opposed to Gregg as it suits my needs better. I'm a list maker so these are working out pretty good. In fact, I've ordered 4 more.

#3 dkirchge

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Posted 24 June 2016 - 16:53

Yes, they'd be perfect for lists and I'll probably wind up using mine for that purpose.


-- Doug K.

#4 inkypete

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 06:26

Tempted given you say the paper is FP ok. The reason I don't buy is that Field Notes changes paper stock way to often to ever buy on trust. Might give these a try. Thanks for the excellent review.


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#5 dkirchge

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Posted 26 June 2016 - 01:39

You're welcome, inkypete. I've had a similar problem with other Field Notes styles, so I mostly relegate them to ballpoint use.


-- Doug K.





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