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Pocket Notebooks: What Really Matters?


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Great stuff Ken.


I've recently been researching pocket notebooks...where I can get them, sizes, quality, and so on. A resource like this would have been invaluable, and saved me many hours of (ongoing) surfing. ;)

Remember kids...always shop within your means.   

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Great stuff Ken.


I've recently been researching pocket notebooks...where I can get them, sizes, quality, and so on. A resource like this would have been invaluable, and saved me many hours of (ongoing) surfing. ;)


LOL...well, it sounds like you might be in a good position to let me know if I miss anything along the way. :D

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So I have a lot of the stuff in place, and I'm working on the first review (for the Story Supply Co Edition 407). I should have that posted tomorrow (Sunday). In the meantime, I've published the main aggregator page and the public version of the master spreadsheet (both will be updated as I post new reviews).


The aggregator page has a table of all the notebooks, and I had room for six columns of data for each one. I tallied up everyone's responses from this thread, and pulled out what seemed to be the most important aspects to list on that page (the complete stats will appear in both the individual notebook review and in the master spreadsheet).


If you have the opportunity to check out the aggregator page, I'd love to know your thoughts. Is it easy to read? Does it make sense? Is it organized okay? What's missing? Should anything be rearranged or removed? Are the six columns/data points appropriate, or would you recommend swapping one out for something else?




I want to make sure I'm serving the community well, so I'd really appreciate any feedback (positive or negative) that you have.


Thanks so much!


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In no particular order:

  1. reasonably-widespread availability - for ease of replacement
  2. decent paper (for ballpoint or gel since field notebooks are usually for jotting notes with whatever pen is handy)
  3. availability of grid ruling
  4. thin and pocketable (e.g., passport thickness)
  5. professional looking cover (no unicorns or smileys)
  6. small but not tiny (e.g., 3.5 x 5.5)
  7. semi-rugged (i.e., the cover won't easily tear or fold
  8. easily transition from boardroom to fieldwork

Conan the Grammarian


“No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.” ~ Robert Adams


“Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines” ~ Enzo Ferrari


Cogito ergo spud. [i think therefore I yam.]

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This looks like it's going to be a really fantastic resource once your reviews are all posted. And this coming from a person who really isn't in the market for a pocket notebook. :D (I've settled on Apica's CD8, which is B7 size. I really only use that kind of thing for shopping lists.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Biggest issue for pocket notebooks that I use for traveling is how well they fit in the thigh pocket of my travel pants.

I've got some nice Japanese notebooks 7-1/4" x 5-1/8" (18 cm x 13 cm)--they're just a bit too big and fall out of my pocket.

(Recently I lost the first week of notes when this happened. Somehow I'm not yet smart enough that after it falls out once and someone picks it up and returns it I don't realize I have a problem.)

Smaller notebooks for quick travel notes are better just for this reason. I don't think they have to be much smaller than the ones above. More pages would also be useful. Is there a useful clip that would keep them from getting lost?


There are two types of travel notebooks for me. The small quick pocket notebook, quick notes (mentioned above),

And a larger journal for writing down when I have time. The computer is better for this.

Often I find I squeeze in tiny journal entries in the small quick pocket notebook.


A baggie is better than waterproof pages. I had this for kayaking where nothing else would do...but they're expensive and I could only write on them with a pencil.


All in all everyone who loves fountain pens loves notebooks. It's been my experience that the available notebooks are small cheap and useful, or are too nice and too expensive (Moleskin), are the ones I make myself (1 glue stick, 100 pages of laser paper, a manila folder... $2?)


What I've found completely unfathomable is no one makes a notebook cover that I can insert the front and back covers of my DIY notebooks into. I use vinyl pocket folders for this purpose. Every company seems absolutely determined to copy exactly what everyone else is doing. There are at least 1200 variations that can accommodate a yellow note pad and not a one that does what I could use.

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