One of my favorite emails to get is when a company approaches me out of the blue and offers me a product for review. Part of me worries for them a little bit, because I have high office supply standards, and I’ll feel bad if it turns out I hate whatever they so nicely offered me, or if it has some major terrible flaw (like a notebook with terrible paper (this has happened before, I contacted the company about it, that review remains in limbo)). LUCKILY FOR EVERYONE, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE HERE! So I can thank Bags of Love for providing this sample without any reservation.
The way this company works is they take photos you upload to the site and make personalized gifts—in this case, a notebook. This only narrowly avoided being a notebook of my cat; the pictures I had taken with my real camera of a sunrise out my bedroom window and a sunset in Morocco were better quality than a thousand iPhone cat pictures.
The notebook is a glossy soft cover. It looks beautiful and you can touch it all you want. The photographs I used turned out wonderfully, with solid blacks and rich colors, just as they looked on my computer screen, and the design/upload interface on the website was easy to use.
The downside to it being a soft cover though is I just know these corners are going to get dinged up, and the spine will end up creased and lined like any paperback.
Now for the good news. No, the fantastic news. THIS PAPER IS WONDERFUL. I had no idea. I didn’t have the slightest clue going in. I looked at the cream-colored, unlined paper and braced myself for enough feathering to cover an outdated dinosaur model and enough bleedthrough to designate the notebook a crime scene…and got none of it! Not the slightest fuzz!
Even my broad nibbed Pilot Vanishing Point, which throws down ink like it’s going out of style, it was able to handle with ease. You can somewhat see the shadow of the previous page’s writing, but nothing so bad that it would stop me from using both sides of the page.
I got the A5 size (8×6″), but they also offer A6 (6×4.5″) notebooks. Says it’s got 150 sides of paper…I don’t feel like counting. I can tell you it is a decent but manageable amount of paper. I don’t like a notebook with too much paper, because then it’s too heavy to carry around in a casual bag. And being unlined, I can use this notebook for writing OR drawing.
Price-wise, this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for. This is a high-quality custom-cover notebook. Something from, say, CafePress would be cheaper, but have you ever actually ordered things from CafePress? I have. I got a custom shirt so poorly made that the shirt pieces weren’t properly aligned when it was sewn and there was a hole in the side of the shirt. I have a friend who ordered a custom SIGG water bottle and received a cheap knockoff. Maybe those kind of shenanigans fly when you’re trying to make custom things for yourself, but you want a gift for someone? Bags of Love is going to give you a quality product that you won’t have to be embarrassed about when you give it. And they are capable of some CRAZY fast shipping if you need it. I don’t know how much it costs, but this thing was in my hands all the way from across the Atlantic Ocean within 24 hours of my being notified it had shipped.
Good paper is worth its weight in gold to me. This notebook is full of good paper. My only complaints are those which plague the very nature of all paperback notebooks. This is a solid product, and I would gladly spend my own money with Bags of Love. Thanks again to them for providing this sample!