favorite notebook
May 11, 2010 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Favorite notebook that's not a Moleskine?

Also, any opinions or experience with doane products?
posted by shotgunbooty to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

Is your problem with Moleskines the style or the expense? If you'd be interested in something like a Moleskine but a small fraction of the cost, there's Piccadilly.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:20 AM on May 11, 2010 [6 favorites]

I have fiddled with just about everything out there. It comes down to what you want the pad for. I need to have something on me to jot down notes, reminders, rather than to write out paragraphs of thought, views, etc., but the real issue then is having something small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jeans. A small spiral will do, but seems a bit bulky. Moleskin does make a very thin, book, much thinner than the ones so popular. More often than not, though, a few lined index cards seem sufficient.
posted by Postroad at 8:25 AM on May 11, 2010

I am partial to Field Notes.
posted by quadrilaterals at 8:31 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Miquelrius makes a good flexible notebook. They use to make very small ones but I can't find them anymore. Now they just seem to sell the ones that are about the size of a typical Moleskin, or larger.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2010

I have always been a fan of Blueline composition books. Moleskines were hard to find during my formative years and I grant that if I had had ready access to Moleskines at eighteen, I might prefer those, but the Blueline is my notebook of choice.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on May 11, 2010

French paper is the best: Rhodia and Claire Fontaine by Exaclair.
posted by nnk at 8:40 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

Being a writer, I typically blow through two top-spiral steno pads a week, I buy them in bulk on eBay on the cheap - typically no more than $1/each. If I'm doing a movie review I'll just buy super cheap legal pads so I don't feel so bad filing up a $20 notebook in two days. Moleskine is, without a doubt, form over functionality when it comes to price.
posted by banannafish at 8:40 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

2nding the Miquelrius - leatherbound, graph paper is the one I have. It's my go-to notebook for casual stuff, project planning, etc. My only complaint is that it could use a flexible elastic bookmark of some kind, though I'm using a rubber band for the same effect. I picked mine up at either Borders or Barnes & Noble. A local Waldenbooks was going out of business, and I was able to grab a pair of moleskines at half-price. They're still shrink-wrapped, but as soon as my main work notebook is done, I'm busting one out.
posted by jquinby at 8:42 AM on May 11, 2010

you might want to check out this roundup of different notebooks, it sends me into a must-buy-must-buy frenzy every time i read it.
posted by soma lkzx at 8:43 AM on May 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

For a massive amount of notebook reviews, check out Notebook Stories.
posted by MsKim at 8:45 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Field Notes are good. I also like Muji notebooks more than Moleskins. They're cheap but very plain and well constructed, and the paper quality is very high.

I don't know if you are in a city with a Muji store; if not, the MOMA gift shops also have them in some cities (NY, LA, Chicago), and they're all over eBay.
posted by rokusan at 8:49 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love love love Ording & Reda notebooks.
posted by meerkatty at 8:52 AM on May 11, 2010

I hit up places that carry Japanese stationary items - there's always a huge range of not very expensive notebooks in various sizes. In the Bay area, I go to Daiso, where I have been known to spend an hour riffling through the stationary section, caressing papers, eyeballing line widths, and obsessing over which size notebook to buy, but because they're so cheap, I end up buying 10 of them anyway.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've been using 9x12" Strathmore sketchbooks for years (though there are other sizes.) Spiral-bound (which lets the pages fall flat), reasonably durable, decent paper texture and large enough for decently-sized sketches. Of course, I carry this around in a bookbag and I need it for sketching and for extensive note-taking, and my needs may not be anything like your needs.
posted by ubersturm at 9:06 AM on May 11, 2010

I was given a Levenger Circa notebook as a gift. I love it because I can take pages in and out (so I never have to buy a new notebook, just paper). The Levenger model is very expensive, but the Container Store has an $8 version that seems to work exactly the same way.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:20 AM on May 11, 2010

I second the Clairefontaine recommendation. The paper is so smooth and lovely and doesn't bleed. There are numerous sizes and either cloth or spiral bindings. My only complaint is that I wish the cloth bindings were a bit stronger. I always end up having to reinforce them with a bit of tape. But I go through them slowly; if you are a quick filler-upper you may not have the same problem.

Plus they come in so many pretty colors! Way better than plain ol' black.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2010

I take my scrap printer paper (i.e. printed something, no longer need that thing), cut it into quarters with scissors, and then staple it twice at the top.

If you want to be really fancy, you can use a guillotine.

posted by djgh at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2010

seconding ricochet biscuit's Blueline love. They're the generic Canadian business notebook. The paper is lovely (if a bit thin) and takes fountain pen ink much better than Moleskines.
posted by scruss at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2010

My daily carry is this Rite-in-the-rain notebook.

It looks a lot like those Field Notes booked linked above except it's waterproof, more durable, and it's the real thing, not something a bunch of design-y hipsters came up with to look like the real thing.

It's reasonably priced (I buy 'em a dozen at a time), fits in shirt or hip pocket, durable but flexible, and best of all (for this rainy climate) the cover and pages are (basically) waterproof. If you don't like that size, color or style, they have a wide variety to choose from.

Their web site kinda sucks from a UI standpoint, though.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the Clairefontaine/Rhodia recommendation, especially if you write with fountain pens. The paper stands up beautifully to even the wettest of inks. My current favorite is the Rhodia Pocket Web Notebook (also available in black, but the orange is growing on me).
posted by halsted at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2010

I'm all about the hard-to-find 5mm dot grid.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on May 11, 2010

For work, I use Pantone notebooks from Japan. I'm a paper snob and I like the way this one takes fountain pen ink.
posted by OLechat at 9:50 AM on May 11, 2010

I like to take a variety of papers - some lined, some plain, some graph; in different weights and colors, along with two pieces of heavier cardstock for covers - which I take to a local copy shop to have spiral- or perfect-bound. It's inexpensive and I know it meets my exact standards.
posted by k8lin at 9:54 AM on May 11, 2010

My notebook priorities are, in this approximate order: unlined paper, ability to lay flat, sturdiness. I prefer wire-bound hardcover sketchbooks, and I love that they're available in a variety of sizes. If your preferences include lined paper, tons of pages, or fitting in a pocket, you probably won't like them as much.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:55 AM on May 11, 2010

Low price & high quality: Muji. If you use a fountain pen, then I agree with all of the people suggesting Clairefontaine. I go through about two notebooks a month, and for the past three months I have been using a .38 uni-ball signo dx with Black n' Red notebooks - the pen simply dances across the page.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:32 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

For general noting on a desk, where I don't care about durability and just want a surface to write on, I blow through the 5x7 yellow pads that are top-bound. Should be under a dollar each at Staples, though their house brand isn't as nice as the other brands they sometimes carry (blurry rules).
posted by smackfu at 11:39 AM on May 11, 2010

I'm a fan of the inexpensive but lovely Apica journals.
posted by zoetrope at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nth the Rhodia, Field Notes, and Muji, as the paper in each is really quite nice, especially for the cost. My current notebooks are these A5-format staple bound made by Seawhite's of Brighton which cost me £1 each in London.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:11 PM on May 11, 2010

Definitely the Rite-In-The-Rain notebooks. They come in a variety of sizes, bindings (top- or side- spiral, or stapled) and page types (lined, graph, blank), so you can find the shape and style you need.
posted by pemberkins at 12:50 PM on May 11, 2010

I really like the ones from Muji. I'd fill up my suitcase with notebooks on the way back, but now they're available here online.
posted by Runes at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2010

I have been really impressed with my large Quo Vadis Habana -- it does stay nice and flat and the paper is top-notch.
posted by fantine at 3:17 PM on May 11, 2010

Nthing the Apica love. Smooth paper that takes ink nicely and doesn't bleed with a fountain pen (although keeping a piece of blotting paper handy is recommended), inexpensive, and not too difficult to find. I usually get them at Kinokuniya Stationery and Gift in Japan Center in SF or Castle in the Air arrgh — I had forgotten how much I hate their website (autoplay sounds SUCK) when I feel I have enough self-control to resist the urge to buy fourteen bottles of fountain pen ink...
posted by Lexica at 3:38 PM on May 11, 2010

Print your own at pocketmod?
posted by puddleglum at 7:15 PM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I nth the Clairefontaine/Rhodia love - the paper is so smooth and I love gridded paper. For scratch paps I do what dgjh does, though I cut with an xacto knife and hold the pad of paper together with a binder clip. I also put two stacks of paper back to back so there's no front or back to the pad.
posted by bendy at 7:34 PM on May 11, 2010

I like the Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks. They have spiral bindings and a hard-ish plastic cover. Available lined, graph, and plain in a bunch of different sizes.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 8:37 PM on May 11, 2010

I found the Piccadily version to be comparable. Paper quality is fine with a fountain pen.
posted by arcticseal at 8:52 PM on May 11, 2010

+1 for Claire Fontaine
posted by evadery at 6:27 AM on May 12, 2010

The Cachet Classic. I own way too many (so one is always at arm's reach) they cost next to nothing and are indestructible. Generations of art students can't be wrong.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:33 AM on May 12, 2010

I have a couple of 'Lotta Jansdotter' journals. Here they are. They're lovely.
posted by twirlypen at 2:03 PM on May 13, 2010

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