Posts filed under Cognitive Surplus

Cognitive Surplus Notebook Review

Cognitive Surplus Notebook Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

Science without art, art without science--no good. They need each other. And If you were to draw a Venn diagram of where they overlap, you'd probably want to draw it in a Cognitive Surplus notebook.

These notebooks are truly beautiful. With cover designs inspired by scientific illustrations from anatomy to entomology to astronomy, there's bound to be one or five you can't resist. When I first found them a few years ago, I had some kind of notebook-induced blackout and I regret nothing. I had just started working in my last book from that wee binge when Cognitive Surplus announced their new designs and new paper. Even better, they asked me to give their new paper a try.

Cognitive Surplus Endpaper

The new notebooks still have the gorgeous scientific illustrations on the covers, and now they have illustrated endpapers as well. They come in a variety of sizes and line formats, hard and soft cover, grid or dots or lines or blank, or a combination. My favorite are the larger hardcover books, which also include a ribbon bookmark. But for maximum design options, you can get a pack of smaller notebooks in different sciency themes. Really, you can't choose wrong.

Cognitive Surplus is a dedicated green company. Check out their webpage on sustainability to see just how much care they put into operating in an environmentally responsible manner. I'm impressed. It makes me want even more notebooks.

Old paper sample

Old paper sample

New paper sample

New paper sample

The paper that CS used to use was extremely fountain pen friendly. I used all sorts of inks and pens in it with no trouble at all. It was crisp white and showed off the subtlety of ink colors and never bled or feathered. But the folks at CS thought they could do better--environmentally better. So this summer they replaced their paper stock with a newer, greener option.


Of course, they were concerned about whether or not it would perform as well as the previous paper--and unfortunately it doesn't. Like a lot of recycled papers, it has a warmer tone to it that doesn't show colors as well, and it doesn't hold up as well when in contact with liquid inks. There's some bleed-through and feathering, and with wetter inks, it looks almost as if the paper fibers are separating as they soak it up. With fine point pens and dryer inks I had no problem, though. So you can still use fountain pens in these notebooks--just not the firehose pens.

Cognitive Surplus Writing

Pencil, ballpoint, gel, and rollerball all did great. If you've got a non-fountain pen that you love, then you are totally golden with these notebooks.

Is this paper going to delight fountain pen enthusiasts? No. It works in so much as I can still read what I wrote, but it doesn't perform in any spectacular way with liquid ink. It doesn't show off color or shading or sheen, or any of those other papery tricks we pen addicts swoon over.

Cognitive Surplus Binding

I think this paper does something better than that, though. Cognitive Surplus has prioritized the environment over fancy features and I commend them for it. They make beautiful, functional, responsible books and my initial disappointment in the paper led me to question my own priorities when it comes to my paper needs. It's not the end of the world if my broad/wet nibs/inks bleed through the page a little, but it literally is the end of the world for species losing their habitats to deforestation and climate change. So take a peek at your papers and your priorities and maybe give a greener option a try. Because small actions do add up. Plus, in the dystopian wasteland, there's nowhere to wash your pen, anyway.

(Cognitive Surplus provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Cognitive Surplus
Posted on September 27, 2018 and filed under Cognitive Surplus, Notebook Reviews.