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Hard Cover Vs. Soft Cover For Journals?


djmaher
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I'm curious to hear people's thoughts and motivations as to whether you choose a hard or a soft cover notebook for journaling.

 

I know that this is a very personal choice for most. Alot has to do I imagine with how you journal, or where and when you write, I would imagine.

 

So, if you had to live with one journal or notebook for journaling, what would it be, and why?

 

In my case, I tend to use medium-sized notebooks. A5 size is about right for me, for portability and weight, especially if you pack it around like I do, nearly all of the time, in my man-purse. :). Soft covers just weigh less, generally. A5 is the size I'm inquiring about here.

 

I don't always write at tables, usually jotting things down on the go wherever I might be. Here, hardcovers help, but I manage with a soft cover as needed.

 

I generally don't carry a small pocket notebook, and then transfer my writing to the larger one. I don't generally like to use paper scraps that are just lying around, thinking I will do the same. I try to keep everything together in one notebook, and I usually don't get around to transcribing writing from one book to another.

 

 

I know that paper choice is personal, and there are alot of factors that effect that choice. Not only size, but paper and paper color, line width spacing(assuming you use a lined journal. I do), margins and borders, numbering etc. Obviously, pen choice matters, as well. I will assume the archival, acid free nature of the paper, and maybe where it was made matters so some. It matters to me. I tend to think in terms of long-term storage and hopefully the viability of ink on paper, as much as I can control that.

 

Some people will just write on anything they can get their hands on, without too much concern for the above. I want to hear from you too.

 

So, if you go to the trouble of getting it down on paper, whatever "that" is, does the cover you choose matter?

 

Or, are scraps of paper just fine, and if so, why?

.....the Heart has it's reasons, which Reason knows nothing of.....

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I have been using A5 soft covers: Clairefontaine blank or Kokuyo Campus blank. I insert them in a Kokuyo Systemic cover along with a Kokuyo Campus Diary (yearly/monthly). I have a small Rhodia or Maruman sketchbook stuck in the front outside pocket. This goes with me everywhere. There is also a black wing pencil slipped in a soda straw, capped with pencil erasers in the pen loop. This guarantees

I always have something to write or sketch with on the go.

 

I wanted the versatility of a separate inexpensive calendar/planner because I wasn’t sure I would stick with it. I use the journals because the paper is good and they are relatively inexpensive and I use one in about a month.

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I used to use hard cover A5 journals, but I got a September Leather travelers notebook cover 9 months ago and switched to soft cover A5 journals. The soft cover journal goes inside the travelers notebook.

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I use soft cover notebooks because there is more variety and they are usually less expensive than hard cover ones. I then buy expensive leather covers to make up for it.

 

Price and variety being equal, I'd probably still go for a softcover, but a stiffer one like the Seven Seas or Midori MD notebooks as a compromise between weight and preventing the notebook from slouching/bending/forming an unseemly crease. I almost always have a desk or have something I can improvise into a desk-like surface to write on.

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I like a soft-cover A5 journal, particularly the Seven Seas, because I can fold it back on itself to write. I rarely write at a table. Also, they take up less shelf space.

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I personally prefer a hard cover as I like having the extra support and I feel that my writing also ends up looking nicer because there is less "give."

The benefit of a soft cover (in my mind) is being able to fold it on itself and write without a desk, but I have nowhere near the penmanship to do so without embarrassing myself, my friends, and my future children... so I just use a desk.

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At one point a few years ago I liked hardcover journals, but the ones I liked aren't available any more (they were from a US company (Michael Rogers, IIRC) in New Jersey; for that matter, the place I bought them, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, is also gone from the Pittsburgh area. :( I liked the journals because they had decent paper (even though recycled) and stacked well. But now I use Miquelrius 300 page journals, which have flexible covers, although they're somewhat hard to get at a good price.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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But now I use Miquelrius 300 page journals, which have flexible covers, although they're somewhat hard to get at a good price.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

How do you deal with the step-down between the journal and desk? Especially pronounced towards the beginning/end.

 

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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How do you deal with the step-down between the journal and desk? Especially pronounced towards the beginning/end.

 

 

Well, when I'm doing morning pages I don't have to worry about the desk -- I haven't gotten out of bed yet! ;) (I keep the then-current journal volume on a small bookshelf next to my bed, along with a canister that has the current rotation of inked pens in it; other shelves contain nice boxes with ink bottles in them, and the top shelf also is where I keep the nasal inhalers I use twice a day for allergies, my alarm clock, and (when I remember to put it there) the bookmark I use for the journal (a flat brass bookmark cut to look like the Sigismund Dragon -- the part that used to hold a tasseled cord has broken off).

I do have some trouble with the centers of double spread pages when I'm writing, because I don't really use margins for that -- I'm writing on the entire width of the page, as much as possible. But I just make do as best I can, and don't really worry about it otherwise (I do of course have to occasionally worry about burping pens or pens which I'm having trouble starting, for fear of getting ink on the sheets... :blush:).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Thanks Ruth I think I'll stick to a narrower A5 under the thin side for now!

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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I'm guided by paper quality and utility, including leaf size, and I go where that takes me. It almost always takes me to B5 LIFE Noble or Apica Premium CD. I've tried and liked Rhodia's Webnotebook and Rhodiarama; but the A5 size wasn't ideal. Back to LIFE Noble or Apica Premium CD. Once in a while I get tired of flexible covers and I try a hardcover. The semi-B5 Designworks hardcover was good. But I write on the go a lot, and a sewn-binding hardcover can be a bit unwieldy with just my lap underneath it. A flexible-cover notebook can be folded back-to-back for a compact footprint and a surface that's stiff enough.

 

If I could design my own notebook it would be B5 or semi-B5, hardcover, double-wirebound, with Rhodia Premium or Apica Premium CD or LIFE Noble paper, a cover sheet for 1st-page privacy, a pocket in front and in back, and an elastic closure. I don't like Black N' Red because I don't much like white paper. I avoid white paper whenever I can, and especially when I'm journaling.

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

 

 

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TLDR: I like the protection that the hardcover "overhang" gives to keep page edges from getting dinged up, but I'm happy if I get that protection from a cover that isn't hard.

 

I used to think of myself as a hardcover notebook person. First moleskines, then Leuchtturm1917 when Moleskine became inconsistent in their paper. Then I discovered fountain pens and shortly after Tomoe River, so I was off hunting for TR notebooks.

 

Here's what I decided was more important to me:

 

* I have one journal. One at a time. Fill it up, put it on a shelf, start the next one. I see some value in the covers that accept multiple inserts with a small number of pages, but that's not how I roll. So all the 50 or 70 page notebooks, which are mostly softcover, need not apply.

 

* My journal is like my iphone: it goes everywhere that I go. It shouldn't be dropped, I try to care for it, but after a while it accumulates dings and scratches because it goes where I go. And let's be honest: the journal isn't as expensive or fragile as the iphone, so it's doesn't get treated as well. And it's A5 so doesn't fit in my pocket. And I'm a dude and it's not carried in a purse.

* Even flimsy card stock covers protect the surface of the pages; it's the edges that end up looking like (bleep) after a while. What I like about hardcovers isn't that they are "hard". It's that hardcover books typically have a cover that overhangs the pages, which creates a practical form of protection for the edges of the pages that keeps them from getting dinged up while being the EDC.

 

That bolded part was important to me. It's the "AH HA!" moment. I'm not a hardcover person after all! I'm a "edge protection" person!

 

So what I settled on was a Taroko Enigma. It has a lot of TR in 68gsm (I don't like the 52), A5, plenty of pages. It's also a heavy softcover, and like other softcovers doesn't have the hardcover overhang. But it was good for the other stuff: paper, size, number of pages, and my options were pretty limited.

 

But I wanted a cover that would provide that same protection as a hardcover's overhang. I probably should have bought one of the many leather ones that were available, but I assumed they were too expensive and that I could do good enough for less money. Total outlay on tools and wasted material while I figured out what I was doing ended up being more, but I'm happy with it. The journals will NOT be stored in that cover long-term. That's just day-to-day protection while it's the EDC. Once the journal is full the cover comes off, the journal goes on the shelf, and the old cover slides onto the the next journal.

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Well, my choices for better than Five Star notebooks (from Brick and Mortar) around here are spiral bound A4 and A5 Red and Black notebooks with semi-hard vinyl covers, Bound A5 red and blacks, or Leuchturm1917s or Moleskines.

 

I throw an A4 black and red into my briefcase to take job notes in, because I can tear at the perforations and easily stick the pages into a case file to maybe be typed later. (This basically replaces a legal pad for me)

 

I keep a spiral A5 black and red in my briefcase for ideas and notes to myself I want to keep.

 

I use bound hardcover red and blacks for fiction writing.

 

I'm using my first Leuchturm1917 (with dot grid! also first time using that) to plan a story out.

 

I've been using one Moleskine to take notes I hope to use to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream at some point.

 

I think it's safe to say that I gravitate toward hardcover for things I plan to keep around, and refer to later. I prefer soft, but really more toward perforated, for notes I take on the go.

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I look for three things in my diary notebooks:

  • good paper
  • sewn binding and a flexible back, but also resilient and not easily deformed
  • cheap/worth its price
  • readily and consistently available so that I can enjoy the look of my neatly stacked journals on the shelf
  • not too thick so that the step up from the table is too high
  • big enough for my somewhat generous handwriting, but small enough to be carried around in a normal-sized handbag

After playing around with a couple of hardback journals, I have found that they are too inflexible and uncomfortable for my needs - most were too thick and too heavy, making writing and carrying them around impractical. Nanami sounds like a solution of all those problems, but it's too expensive to ship to Europe (and even if I could buy it directly I would think twice about the price).

In the end I've settled on Midori MD A5 Notebooks, which have great, resilient paper (love Tomoe River, but a diary has to withstand some manhandling, and it's just not built for that) and a beautiful, minimalistic design that doesn't steal the spotlight from my writing. They come with a plain paper option, a bookmark and awesome stickers to organise them, and there's a steady supply to be found in many places, usually going for 10-15€. They come with only a wax paper cover, but you can buy a plastic cover for 5€ that will take quite a beating. Best of all, they're small enough that I can stick them in the pockets of my dressing gown and carry them around with me on lazy Sundays, whipping them out whenever inspiration strikes me.

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I like a softcover. The Exacompta 9931 lined which uses ClarieFontaine paper. I have a blue, soft leather cover I use over it.

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Hard cover A4 or A5 please. Sighel makes some nice ones, as does Leuchtturm 1917 (I prefer the Sighel Conceptum notebooks). Hard cover notebooks stay in better shape in my laptop bag. Besides, I think they look and feel nicer.

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What I like about hardcovers isn't that they are "hard". It's that hardcover books typically have a cover that overhangs the pages, which creates a practical form of protection for the edges of the pages that keeps them from getting dinged up while being the EDC.

 

That bolded part was important to me. It's the "AH HA!" moment. I'm not a hardcover person after all! I'm a "edge protection" person!

 

 

This is a good argument for having a cover for a soft-cover journal.

 

(I had to lookup "edc")

Edited by vjones
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