Notebooks for the guy that thinks Moleskines are too expensive?
October 6, 2006 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Notebooks for the guy that thinks Moleskines are too expensive?

I love notebooks. But I go through them very quickly in my own little sorta-kinda-GTD system where I rip used pages out (i.e. clearing my Inbox).

I'd like to do the whole Moleskine thing ... but come on. They're small. They're expensive. You don't want to rip these pages ever. And I'm not an artist or poet that hangs on every thought that flitters into my head, so I don't need to hang onto a notebook forever that's filled with things like "bread, milk, call your wife."

What I need is something in-between a Moleskine and a Mead college student notebook. Inexpensive notebooks with good quality paper and good bindings (rings, traditional bindings, etc) but where I don't mind throwing it away when it's all used up. I have tried the Moleskine Cahier brand, but the cover itself is paper and is easily torn.
posted by frogan to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Cheapie pocket "Composition Books" from Wal*Mart. About $1.00 each. I buy 'em by the dozen, and I write EVERYTHING in them. Stiched binding; pages tear out no problem
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:21 PM on October 6, 2006

I love the hardcover sketchbooks from Border's. They're often in the clearance section, and come in several sizes, and both lines and unlined (personally, I despise lines). I kept diaries in them all throughout my angstiest years---priceless.
posted by changeling at 6:35 PM on October 6, 2006

I like Rhodia Pads, which you can find in many art or office supply stores, online and off. (Amazon has good prices; so does the U. Bookstore in Seattle.)

The staple-bound pads are cheap but sturdy; the sheets are perforated to tear off. The cover is designed to fold out of the way while you write. I carry a 3x4" graph paper pad in my pocket. It's only US$1.60 for 80 sheets.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:35 PM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

The cheapo option is the Mead Fat Li'l Notebook. Small enough to be really convenient, but with 200 college-ruled pages, they'll last for a good while. They come in a bunch of colors, and are widely available and super-cheap. Although the notebooks are spiral-bound, the pages are perforated and will tear cleanly without leaving tatters from the rings.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:21 PM on October 6, 2006

I use composition notebooks as well. I don't like the way they look by themself, so I found a student organizer that they fit in just perfectly.

The problem with tearing the pages out in a composition book is that the binding holds two pages in so you would lose the last page if you tore it out completely.
posted by bigmusic at 8:29 PM on October 6, 2006

Kinko's offers binding services. You can do plain ole disposable notebooks or something a bit more fun like these album art covered notebooks.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:38 PM on October 6, 2006

I have a whole series of 9x11" Strathmore sketch pads. They've got blank pages, which means that they're good for writing or sketching/diagram-drawing/etc. They're spiral-bound, so tearing stuff out isn't a problem, and the paper's sturdy. The same notebook is also available in smaller sizes. [Any art store will have similar generic-brand notebooks.]
posted by ubersturm at 8:45 PM on October 6, 2006

When I don't want to use a moleskine, I use a small stack of index cards in a small leather slipcase (a less fancy version of this).

The index cards are much studier compared to cheap pocket notebooks and I stock up on them every year when school supplies are discounted.
posted by Sangre Azul at 9:24 PM on October 6, 2006

I second Mead's Fat Lil Notebook. It is the BEST and most perfect sized notebook ever, plus the plastic cover is nice and rugged so it's not going to get gross or bent out of shape easily.
posted by tastybrains at 9:45 PM on October 6, 2006

They're not pocket-size, but I love the texture and weight -- smooth, not too light, not too heavy) of paper of several notebooks I've used in the past. I can't remember the name, and I left my last one in a friend's car so I can't find it just now, but the logo is a stylized, swooshy "S," usually on a thin plastic front cover, and they cost $5-$10 at Staples. I want to say "Roaring Spring Paper Products" or something, but I'm pretty sure I'm wrong.
posted by Alterscape at 3:31 AM on October 7, 2006

Try Black n' Red. Available at OfficeMax in the US, I believe. Some people on the fountain pen forums have been comparing them quite favorably to moleskines, and they're definitely a step up from Mead at a relatively low price.
posted by mmoncur at 5:10 AM on October 7, 2006

I do the same thing with little notebooks. There are lots of interesting spiral-bound ones if you start looking around - you could even try looking for journals at a craft or scrapbooking store. I've also seen nice ones at Barnes & Noble and maybe stationery stores.

I also have a yearly agenda-type book that I made for myself by having it bound at Staples - it's mainly full of calendar, but I also added a bunch of [my own designed] to-do list and project summary pages at the end. I love it. I got it wire bound for just a few dollars at Staples, and the pages are laid out exactly as I like. I made dividers that are just like I like them. I can tear pages out when I don't need them any more. I thought a lot about what would make good cover stock -- the choices of "card stock" you get at printing places tend not to be very substantial -- and wound up using mat board from a local framing store - they gave it to me as the scraps I needed were too small for them to use.

You can get any size stack of pages bound, and it's really not expensive.

BTW, I made my 2-page-per-week agenda using a spreadsheet macro - that's how I got all the date labels to work out.
posted by amtho at 6:40 AM on October 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have you tried Miquel Rius notebooks? See the last set of notebooks pictured here. The cover is a tough plastic, the pages are perforated and lined (or graph paper). seems to have them on sale. They come in two sizes---8.5x11 and a smaller size. I've seen them on sale at The Art Store, my old college bookstore,...and I think one of the big bookstores (B&N or Borders).
posted by hooray at 1:40 PM on October 7, 2006

Crappy website, fantastic notebooks: Leather Etc. Colored Edge books. They come in a variety of sizes, I found the 2nd smallest size in an art supply store in Savannah, GA while shopping with my girlfriend. It fits perfectly in my jeans and work pants pockets, so I can always keep it on me and write down absolutely anything at anytime. It's been a life-saver in terms of my organizational skills.

I'd first check my local art supply store for them, but failing that, a quick google search turns up places to order them from.
posted by ElfWord at 10:18 PM on October 7, 2006

I whole-heartedly second Rhodia pads. Really nice, smooth paper (i prefer the quadrille), thick back boards to give you a sturdy writing surface, easy-to-tear top perforations, and a handy top cover that folds up and wraps around.

They also make them in every conceivable size. They're the type of notebook you can obsess over writing on, but you're not *scared* to write on them (like moleskines, to me).
posted by bienbiensuper at 8:32 AM on October 8, 2006

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