Pocket Department Notebooks, reviewed

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.

Pocket Department Notebooks

The Shirt Pocket

Pocket Department Shirt Pocket notebook

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:

Pocket Department Shirt Pocket notebook in 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).

Pocket Department Shirt Pocket notebook writing test

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

Pocket Department Back Pocket notebook cover

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.

Pocket Department Back Pocket Notebook paper test

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.

Other Sizes

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.

New Field Notes edition: Arts & Sciences

I don’t know exactly when the quarterly Field Notes COLORS edition was something I anticipated and looked forward to every three months. It may have been when they started making little “making of” videos for each style. Or maybe it was the tremendously unique Shelterwood edition. Or maybe it was this one, when they started teasing the hell out of it. (Have you seen this series of videos, for example?)

But I have started looking forward to it, as I might with a new Apple announcement event or the release of a new episode of Adventure Time. Just last night, in fact, I had a dream that the new Field Notes edition was edible — that its cover and pages were made of a paper-thin graham cracker-like cookie. That’d pretty fantastic, but they definitely wouldn’t last very long. And I bet the graphite markings I’d make all over it would not be tasty.

That’s why I was relieved  for what they did announce:

The Arts & Sciences edition!

FN23AS8sm

At 7.5″ x 4.75″, it’s a bit bigger than the standard Field Notes cahier:

FN23AS9sm

And the layouts feature one blank page and one with the specialized layout (lined for “Arts”, presumably for writing that great American novel or poetry, and a 5×5 grid for the “Sciences” book, for, uh, charting the stars or something?)

While this doesn’t set me on fire, I think it’s a good, solid edition. I can definitely find use for the larger size and the grid paper.

FN23AS5sm

Also, I love these buttons!

FN23AS6sm

They’re selling for $9.95 for the two notebooks over at FieldNotesBrand.com. And, of course, you can get a subscription for about $100 a year, which includes two packs of each quarterly edition, and some other goodies.

Shout-out to Johnny from Pencil Revolution for correctly surmising the edition from the teaser videos over in the Field Nuts Facebook group! You, sir, are a visionary.

All photos from FieldNotesBrand.com.

Field Notes introduces a woodcased… notebook?

I hate to be that guy who fawns all over a product, but dang it, Field Notes makes it so easy.

Just when you don’t think they can top themselves, they release woodgrain notebook.

This this is beautiful:

Field Notes Shelterwood

Field Notes Shelterwood

From their website:

The “Shelterwood” edition features covers made from actual American Cherry wood, sliced ever-so-thin and bonded to a substrate of kraft paper for durability. We believe we’re the first notebook company to manufacture such a product at such a scale.

 

Droooool.

As with all of their quarterly releases, this includes a short video showcasing the production of it. It’s fascinating how they shave the wood off the log so thin:

Presumably the wood is extremely pliable, but as we discussed over at Field Nuts, this is not a back-pants-pocket notebook; it’s a front-shirt-pocket notebook for sure.

I feel like it was made especially for us wooden pencil fanatics. It’s a woodclinched notebook!

Once I get my hands on one, I’ll post some shots of the grain. (Why don’t I have the annual subscription again?)

The notebook is $9.95 for a three pack, available here. And once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Gel pen wins this round

I just opened my back of “Drink Local” edition Field Notes and started writing in the golden Pilsner notebook. It’s gorgeous, and the 120# “Dull” coated cover is amazing to touch, and holds up well in my back pocket.

My only problem? The inside cover. It’s black, and none of my pencils can leave a visible mark.

At Target today, I found a five-pack of gel pens on clearance which included one in white. It has the smeary, skippy ink flow that many cheap gel pens have, but it does the trick:

White Gel Pen in a Field Notes cover

I guess gel pens do have their uses outside of tweens doodling in notebooks. I guess I’ll keep this pen around for just this occasion.

Is it just me, or does the new Field Notes “Cold Horizon” color remind you of something…

Cold Horizon iOS 7?

 

Not that I’m complaining! I’m a big fan of both this new Field Notes edition, and of Apple’s iOS 7 design.

“Cold Horizon” is literally a very flat design—with that glossy cover, there’s really no toothy texture to it. And while that gorgeous Futura doesn’t really compare to an equally gorgeous Helvetica Neue, still.

It’s interesting because iOS 7 was a departure from the “skeuomorphic” look of the previous design, to get away from making it look like it’s a physical environment.  In a funny turn of events, the physical environment is redesigned to look like it!

What do you think? Do you see it?