Bookblock Original Customized Notebooks

2 06 2016
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Look at this snazzy, professional picture that Bookblock took! Of my notebook! Makes me briefly consider constructing some kind of light box for my pictures, rather than the random backgrounds of wherever I happen to be

When given the opportunity to customize a notebook with ANYTHING I WANTED….ANY ARTWORK MY IMAGINATION DESIRED…I naturally opted to slather the covers in fur children.

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Not even real camera pictures of the fur children. iPhone pictures. Photoshop-filtered iPhone pictures. The disgrace.

But perhaps I should rewind, and explain the process to create one of these notebooks. You go to the website, click the “Create Your Notebook” button, Launch the Artwork Editor (which seems to have some nice features for finagling around multiple images if desired), Submit Design, choose the color of your elastic band and ribbon book mark, choose your paper type (ruled, plain, or dot grid in 90gsm ivory; or sketch paper of 140gsm) and delivery area, and proceed to complete your order. It’s so enticingly simple that, in spite of already having my sample notebook I’ve received for free, I’ve nearly ordered an additional notebook half a dozen times now, in spite of not really needing one, not knowing what I even want to put on it, and currently trying to save money for the upcoming Triangle Pen Show.

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Once I decide what I want to put on a second notebook, then I’ll order it

I love the quality of the printed image. The notebook is a deliciously soft-touch hardcover, and the images came out beautifully. But I am concerned how that soft-touch finish will wear over time:

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Wear and tear

There’s already a crease in the spine. I’ve had it for about a month. Maybe the crease just seems extra visible due to the light color of my notebook. The notebook itself includes a ribbon bookmark, elastic band, and no inside pocket.

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My paper life was so much easier before I got into fountain pens…

Now here’s the biggest let-down: the paper. The paper comes from a company I have not reviewed before, Monsieur Notebook. Let’s take a brief detour down memory lane and I will tell you why I did not review a Monsieur Notebook.

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Had this not been inside the cover of my Bookblock, I would never have known…

Many years ago, when they were first coming to the US, Monsieur Notebook sent me samples of their leather notebooks asking for my feedback. The leather was wonderful and the paper was absolutely godawful for fountain pens. I told them as much, they said they were working on a version with more fountain pen friendly paper that they wanted to send me a sample of, I intended to wait until I received the potential improvement before doing a review. I never received the sample. That was 2011. Then, in 2013, I received an email from them again, as if we’d never spoken before (it was the same person, same email address both times), about the IndieGoGo campaign they were launching–they’d JUST discovered my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in trying a sample! Sure, I’ll go along with the selective amnesia. Send me a sample, since the last improved sample never made it. Surprise! This sample never made it either. Somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, countless Monsieur Notebooks have no doubt gathered to die, as I’m not the only one who seems to have encountered this phenomena. I emailed back to say I never received the sample, and have heard nothing in the years since. So here’s a mini review of all I know about the Monsieur Notebook (leather cover edition):

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Elastic band, or jump rope?

The paper sucks, the elastic lost all elasticity after about 3 to 4 years, and the leather is awesome but seems to be pulling away from the notebook. If you write with gel pens, ballpoints, pencils, or micron-type pens, then the paper is ok. Anything remotely water-based will fuzz and bleed horrifically, and in spite of the wonderful cover you will essentially never use the notebook again.

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Enough about that! This is a Bookblock review, after all.

Now, back to the Bookblock. My notebook came with plain 90gsm paper–presumably the most modern and theoretically improved paper something Monsieur Notebooks-based can offer. Gel pens, ballpoint, pencils, Pilot FriXion highlighters, a quick and gentle pass with a Faber Castell Pitt Artist brush pen, and a light wash with watercolor pen/waterbrush were fine. Water-based inks still looking…not great.

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Who needs to use both sides of the page anyway

We’ve got showthrough and bleedthrough, including bleedthrough with heavy gel inks like the Sakura Gelly Roll. Very fine fountain pens are almost ok, unless your sketching involves going over a line more than once or twice, then you’ve got bleedthrough. This notebook is primarily suited for pencil or ballpoint pen sketching.

Normally I’m not keen on paper that doesn’t play nice with my fountain pens. So why would I still want another one of these notebooks? I’m not sure you can beat the customization at this price. The notebook is $18, with an additional $8 shipping to the US. And the notebook customization interface is so easy to use. These would make a great gift, especially for ordinary people who don’t care about fountain pens.

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Like Tobi here! She doesn’t give a single flip about fountain pens, because she is a cat.

(Bookblock Original provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes. Opinions entirely my own. Monsieur Notebooks also provided that leather notebook, several years ago, at no charge, and opinions definitely my own since I never heard from them again…)

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One response

4 10 2016
David Foissard

I just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it. Your sketches and coloured drawings on the pages of these notebooks are truly inspiring ! You make me eel like buying fountain pens with coloured ink and make doodles everywhere. I posted the link of your blog on my Facebook page to share the love we both have for pens and notebooks.

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