I’ve been spending a LOT of time thinking about paper, folks. But sadly very little time actually writing about it. It seems like no matter how many different brands I try out, Field Notes always takes the lead. Whether that’s because of their gigantic fanbase or because of their creative limited edition notebooks, I don’t know, but my papery rabbit holes always seem to lead back there.
That’s why it’s a breath of fresh air to talk about a couple other pocket notebooks I’ve been using lately, by the Princeton Architectural Press. Through a collaboration with the Brooklyn Art Library, this collection, “Pocket Department,” has a unique format. From their website:
Pocket Department is a line of sturdy notebooks inspired by vintage stationery and designed to fit every pocket: back pocket, shirt pocket, backpack, and messenger bag. These custom-tailored notebooks are ideal for capturing ideas, composing thoughts, making lists, or sketching on the go.
JetPens, a fantastic online shop with pens, pencils and paper galore, was kind enough to send me a couple varieties of the Pocket Department notebooks they stock: The Shirt Pocket notebook, in green, and The Back Pocket in yellow.
The Shirt Pocket
At a pretty standard 3.5” x 5.5”, The Shirt Pocket notebook is not sized significantly different than an aforementioned Field Notes cahier. It does indeed fit easily into a shirt pocket:
I really like the design: the color, the simple font choice on the front and the plainness of the inside. I love that the lines on the paper match the green cover, and the paper itself is smooth. It takes anything from a pencil to a felt-tip fine liner perfectly (I didn’t try it with a fountain pen, I’m afraid).
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of the binding. Instead of a saddle stitch like so many pocket notebooks do, they opted instead to make it perfect-bound. That results in a much cleaner spine and keeps it closed flat, but when you’re trying to write it in, it’s very tight and hard to hold open.
It seems like it’d be a great format to offer something Field Notes, Word., and other pocket notebook stationers don’t: perforated pages. I’d love to use this thing to scribble a note, and then tear out for later. Alas, it’s definitely not a perforated book.
The Shirt Pocket notebook is available in a pack of three for $12.50 at JetPens.
The Back Pocket
This was a fun one to review! At 4” x 4”, this perfectly square notebook is unlined, perfect for quick visual notes, a sketch, or just for writing words that can’t be contstrained to lines.
Oh, just so you know, I am the WORST at drawing. I should have given this to a more artistic friend to try out.
It has the same binding as the green notebook, but the size made all the difference — because there was more width to each page, it was much easier to hold open. I also appreciate the size in that I can flip the page up, like a reporter’s notepad, if I wanted to.
The Back Pocket notebook is available in a pack of three, also for $12.50 at JetPens.
The Pocket Department has a couple other sizes that I’d love to try that isn’t unfortunately available at JetPens — There’s The Messenger Bag, sized at 8.5” x 5.5”, and The Backpack, at 6” x 6”. They’re not so much formatted for a pocket on a piece of clothing than a pocket for a bag, so they’re much bigger.
I found a website at PocketDept.com that seems to tease out different colors being available, like grey, white and a natural brown paper sack color, but the site is either broken or not entirely built yet.
All things considered, this is a fun little notebook series. I haven’t used it enough to tell how durable they are, but once I figure that out, I’ll definitely report back.
Find out more information about Pocket Department notebooks at JetPens.com.