So a long while back I used to journal in the pocket size Moleskine notebooks – the ubiquitous black hardcover ones. They worked pretty well but I slowly moved up the sizes until I was using the Leuchtturm1917 master dots size. A great size with lots of space, but hard to carry anywhere, so I slid back down to the BookFactory blank books in the 8×10 size. Also a nice size, but not so good for travel.
After eventually going all the way back down to Field Notes notebooks in a leather cover I’d made, I realized that’s too small. But I like the cover and I liked the slim volumes. Just needed the next size up. I know Field Notes makes their Pitch Black notebooks in 4.5″ x 7.5″ size, but they’re $8 each. And yes, I bought some and I’ll be reviewing those shortly!
I went looking for refills that were the 5×8 size, dot grid, and not too expensive. Moleskine ruined their Cahier notebooks by making 25% of the pages perforated. Leuchtturm1917 did even worse by ruining the entire book; the whole thing is perforated. I know a lot of folks want pages perforated so they can tear them out, but I’m not one of those people.
Looking on Amazon I found these: XYark 12 Pack Dot Grid Notebook Journals
They arrived in a nice stack in a plastic bag and are just what I expected. Stitch bound, not perforated, dot grid. The paper is thin and the cover is just a bit thicker, but not as thick as a Field Notes or Moleskine Cahier. I didn’t buy them to survive on their own – they’ll be in a leather cover – so I’m not worried about the covers so much.
60 pages is about 1/4 of what is in a Leuchtturm1917 notebook of the same size, so I figure I’ll go through about three or four of these in a year. I used to want notebooks to last for as many months of journaling as possible, but I’ve found I really don’t look back that often away from home.
The paper is not fantastic, but it’s nearly as good as Moleskine, not as good as Leuchtturm’s. It’s a smidge rougher. No word on whether it is acid free or not. A cursory test with fountain pen ink showed no bleed using Noodler’s black that had been in a pen for quite a while, in a TWSBI pen that leaves a wet line. Parker roller ball was the same. Writing very slowly it was a little more apparent from the other side, but not what I would call bleed through. The dot grid is a bit darker than Leuchtturm1917, which was off putting at first but now I’m over it.
My main concern with these is durability. Will the paper will self destruct over time? The manufacturer doesn’t say if it is acid free. The cover is thin and these books probably won’t be very durable on their own in a bag if you’re rough with them.
$20 for 12 books, 720 pages, or about 1/3 the price of Leuchtturm1917 large notebooks. No pocket, no page numbers, no index, no perforations, no silly promise about rewards.
If you’re looking for a no-frills notebook at a good price this option is hard to beat.