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Pocket Notebooks: What Really Matters?


KreepyKen
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I'm about to embark on a Monster Mega review comparing about 25 to 30 different pocket notebooks. I plan to have a "home page" that aggregates the main data points for all the notebooks (in a big table), and links to the individual, detailed reviews of each notebook. In order to keep the aggregator/home page manageable, I want to limit the data points/criteria to the most popular attributes that people want to see.

 

So I'd like to ask the paper enthusiasts out there: What attributes are most important to you when it comes to pocket notebooks? In other words, if you're reading a review for a pocket notebook (i.e., Field Notes and A6 sizes), what are the three or four things you're really hoping to find out about it?

 

Thank you very much!

Ken

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  • Fountain pen friendly paper
  • Cover: stiff enough to hand-hold while writing; flexible enough to be comfortable; durable
  • Binding
  • Paper perforations - if perforated, how secure are pages

Please post at least a summary of your results here on FPN, sorted alphabetically or ranked by "friendliest." Thank you for undertaking this project!! I look forward to your reviews.

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Hi quality paper that doesn't get easily trashed

Ability to write easily while holding it (no writing surface available)

Durable cover to withstand constant handling and sliding in and out of pockets.

Bookmark.

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1. Round corners to the notebook

2. Elastic page thing

3. Rear pocket

4. FP great paper

5. Low paper weight.

6. Pen loop

7. Able to go in my jacket inside pocket

8. Numbered pages and an index

 

All the points but perhaps not in that order

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Paper size

Refillable?

How is it bound/where is it bound (top or side)

Durability of cover / Hard or soft cover?

FP friendly paper?

Number of pages and if ruled on both sides of page

Ruling type

Inked: Aurora Optima EF (Pelikan Tanzanite); Franklin Christoph Pocket 20 Needlepoint (Sailor Kiwa Guro); Sheaffers PFM I Reporter/Fine (Diamine Oxblood); Franklin Christoph 02 Medium Stub (Aurora Black); Platinum Plaisir Gunmetal EF (Platinum Brown); Platinum Preppy M (Platinum Blue-Black). Leaded: Palomino Blackwing 602; Lamy Scribble 0.7 (Pentel Ain Stein 2B); Uni Kuru Toga Roulette 0.5 (Uni Kuru Toga HB); Parker 51 Plum 0.9 (Pilot Neox HB)

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I don't consider A6 a "pocket notebook" (too large for a standard men's shirt pocket).

 

I have used a pocket notebook every day at work for 25 years. I have gone through many of them. I have bought many and made many myself.

 

Here are my criteria (my deal-breakers):

 

1) minimum 8 "sheets" (or 32 total page faces)

 

2) can comfortably fit in a men's shirt pocket with room enough to spare for a pen and a pair of reading glasses

 

3) paper will not have bleedthrough with less-saturated ink (Pelikan, Waterman, Parker).

 

4) paper will have minimal showthrough with ballpoint or gel inks

 

5) pocket notebook will not be so heavy as to distort the look of the shirt hanging normally on the torso

 

6) price

 

 

Other aspects to consider:

 

* are there perforated pages?

* lined/blank/dots/squares?

* quality of cover? (I don't care at all, but others might. I make mine out of used manila folders)

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<snippy snip> cover? (<snip> I make mine out of used manila folders)

 

Thanks for the idea.

 

 

 

 

This is what I consider in notebooks....

 

Cover durable to handling

Cover has rounded corners

Cover hard or soft

 

Binding sewn, taped, stapled, wire

Binding at side or top

 

Number of ribbon bookmarks

 

Rear pocket for stamps or loose pages

 

Notebook can lie flat when open

Notebook can be held closed with attached elastic strap

 

Paper size

Number of pages

Pages ruled, graphed, dotted, blank

Paper doesn't have bleedthrough with drier pens or less-saturated inks

inks and nibs used for testing will be named

 

Price

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Five Musts

  • Durable construction;
  • Choice of covers: hard, soft;
  • Choice of blank, ruled, dotted pages;
  • Smyth sewn binding;
  • Fountain-pen-friendly paper without any feathering or bleed-through nor excessive show-through.

I love the smell of fountain pen ink in the morning.

 

 

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I look for these attributes in a pocket notebook.

 

- Rounded corners

- Lay-flat binding

- Stiff cover

- Slim and lightweight

- Invertible*

- Good quality FP paper

 

* The way I use the notebook is to write only on pages right side of the spine.

On the opposing page to the left, I place a post-it note to absorb any fresh/wet ink, thus allowing me to write into the book and close it right away without fear of making a mess.

Once I've reached the end, I flip the whole thing upside down and work the remaining blank pages start to finish.

By invertible, I mean to say anything like dot grid or blank unruled, etc. if it had a place at the top for writing the date or page numbers pre-printed at the bottom, it's no longer invertible.

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TSherbs: Just sent you a PM back channel to get more infpo on the Shirt Pocket sized Notebooks that work for you. Thanks for any info, guidance you can provide, Jim

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TSherbs: Just sent you a PM back channel to get more infpo on the Shirt Pocket sized Notebooks that work for you. Thanks for any info, guidance you can provide, Jim

 

pssst

 

I replied

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Fits in a shirt pocket.

Durable cover

Fp friendly paper

Rollerball friendly paper. Some slightly coated papers do not work.

Perforated pages not desired

Inside back envelope

Attached elastic band

Strong binding and spine

Lays open flat

Not more than 100 sheets (200 pages)

Wide ruling or blank pages

Acid free

Not on a moleskine price scale

Minimal ghosting.

No feathering.

The cover does not say JOURNAL on it.

Black covers and variety of colors available.

Holy grail: a vintage look. Early 1900s

Begs to be written in.

How's that?

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Thank you so much, everybody! Nice list of considerations. Just to clarify, though, this is for pocket notebooks, not journals or covers, so things like pen loops, ribbon bookmarks, elastic closures, and pockets are likely going to be out of scope. I'll be sure to post overviews here on FPN as I go...it's going to be a somewhat long-term project.

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Thank you so much, everybody! Nice list of considerations. Just to clarify, though, this is for pocket notebooks, not journals or covers, so things like pen loops, ribbon bookmarks, elastic closures, and pockets are likely going to be out of scope. I'll be sure to post overviews here on FPN as I go...it's going to be a somewhat long-term project.

this is a great service to the community, so thanks

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FP friendliness

price

hard or soft cover?

blank/lined/dot paper - I prefer blank for A6 as I flip them 90 degrees and fill them in that way

no of pages

design - does it inspire?

binding - being left handed spiral bound is a no-no.

lay flat design - if it won't lay flat, then it's useless for FPS

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Okay folks, I'm on my way. In addition to the individual reviews and an aggregator home page, I also put together a shareable spreadsheet for collecting all the specs so that all the notebooks can be compared side-by-side. If any of you would like to take a look at it, you can see it here:

 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kpB9DQpBbGb6CH6alVmQdHMpOUTfMZ2SQPnXZ9XMl2g/edit?usp=sharing

 

If there's something you feel is missing, feel free to scream at me. Things like pen loops, ribbons, and pockets are going to be rare, so if I encounter any, I'd indicate it in the notes section rather than devoting entire columns to them.

 

I'd love to know what you think!

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No feathering or bleed through.

No of pages.

Durability.

Lay-flat.

Ribbon.

Closure mechanism.

 

I only use Designy notebooks - the absolute best I've ever tried. For scribbles, I have a few Tamoe River ring-bound books I picked up in Tokyo for a song.

Too many pens; too little writing.

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