14 Jun

The notebook obsession: Pt. 2

(Pt. 1 is here.)

I was craving one of the larger Traveler’s Notebooks at this point. One that would give me more room to draw and plan. And I liked the slightly thinner cover the originals have in comparison to the Renaissance Art journal. (Don’t get me wrong, I love it to pieces. But I wanted something different and more like the real Midoris for the larger notebook.)

I kept looking at the prices and thinking “No, I can’t justify buying one.” But I didn’t want to get one of the “fauxdoris”, either. The thing about Midoris is that they are a bit like Apple products in that they are not just nice products, but they are beautifully designed and packaged and they feel a bit like a treasure to open. Fake Midoris often do not have that quality, though of course some do, and many of them just looked… cheap. The ones that didn’t were expensive, like real Midoris. And even the ones that looked good usually didn’t have that quality of “vintage notebook that Indiana Jones would probably carry around” that I was looking for.

So then, I received an unexpected Amazon gift card. Surprise! I thought about what I would spend it on. A Midori? But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And then I found this. A set of two notebooks and a pen holder from ZLYC. I was skeptical — surely they had to be cheap crap. I looked in the reviews and was surprised to see that they were almost universally positive, and didn’t appear to all be shills, either. On top of it all, the notebooks are the same size as Midoris (and almost an exact look-alike). I thought about it for a while, then took the plunge, ordering a set in Dark Coffee. Here’s what I got:

Let’s just say I was impressed. The leather was perfect — thin and flexible and yet with some good heft to it. It is nice to hold on to. It smelled good, not of chemicals or mildew. They were put together nicely, and each book came with three random inserts (plus an extra plastic pocket insert in the large book).

The large book had a two graph inserts, a free calendar, and the pocket insert; the small book had all kraft paper inserts. I was thrilled, and immediately started customizing the large book. I may use the small one as a gift since I already have the other from Renaissance Arts.

And now, a few days later, here’s what I have!

I’m terribly happy with it so far. It’s the perfect weight and feel in the hands, and it’s easy to write in. The paper is lovely — at least, the graph paper is. (Haven’t written on the other yet.) I’ve tested it with fountain pens, gel pens, all kinds of pens, and it doesn’t bleed through. It’s very smooth to write on. I’m going to have to find more of the graph inserts!

I got a Midori blank paper insert for it and swapped it in for one of the graph paper ones, since I don’t need both at the same time. It fits perfectly.

I have a feeling I’m going to be carrying this one around for a long time. But now I’ve seen the blue limited-edition Midori notebook — uh oh. Must. use. self-control.

14 Jun

The notebook obsession: Pt. 1

Uh-oh. I’ve got another obsession.

A few months ago, there was a post on Metafilter about something called the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. I had never heard of this. The notebooks, apparently, have a devoted cult of users who buy all kinds of accessories, customize and decorate their notebooks, and generally spend a lot of time using them as planners, sketchbooks, and more. I looked at some links about the Midori notebooks, and thought they looked nice, but not anything I would use much. Though I’ve always loved stationery and journals, I’ve never used them enough. Usually I get one, write in it a few times, then never again.

And then an online friend pointed me to a free journal offer from Renaissance Art. This one. She said “Anyone interested in those Midori notebooks should try this offer. You only have to pay for shipping.” Why not? I thought. I do love journals and notebooks. And $9.99 for a pretty leather journal? What’s not to like? It’s not a Midori-brand notebook, but it is the same size as a Midori Passport-size Traveler’s Notebook, the smaller size, so Midori refills would fit.

I ordered the notebook, and was impressed when, only a few days later, this arrived from Renaissance-Art. (Incidentally — I have no connection with Renaissance Art. I just like the notebook they sent me.)

The notebook was made of beautiful, buttery leather. It smelled good, like a new baseball glove. I went online to see how people use and customize their Midoris and “fauxdoris” like this one, and immediately fell head over heels into the rabbit hole. For example, see this Flickr group. People use the books as sketchbooks, art journals, travel journals, planners, and more.

What is special about them is the refillable system. Refills are held in with elastics, and you can add more elastics to hold more refills. There are a ton of different refills — graph, lined, blank, kraft paper, calendars, zip pouches, etc. It’s not difficult to make your own, either. So if you want to use yours as a personal planner, you might include a calendar, a Chronodex insert, and lined paper. But if you want to use yours as an art journal, your inserts might include drawing paper and a pouch to carry supplies. When you fill up one of the paper inserts, you can take it out and replace it with a new one, even if the rest of your inserts aren’t used up yet. It’s endlessly customizable and flexible.

Of course, I got all excited about this and started customizing mine. Of course.

I love the book and have been using it a lot. But. It wasn’t enough. It’s a bit small for writing, and might work better for me as a sort of wallet, so I wanted the larger size — maybe a real Midori?

And with that cliffhanger of sorts, I’ll stop for now. Watch for Part 2.

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