Posts filed under Notebook

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover with Monthly Schedule Book Review

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover with Monthly Schedule Book 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. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)

It's time to plan your plans! Planning your planning! It's planner season!

Confession: It stresses me out. Because I know what I want. And I know what works for me. And they are not the same thing! I usually cave and buy a complex, ambitious planner system at the beginning of the year, stick with it through April, and then things gradually deteriorate until about... oh, now... and then I spend the rest of the year with just a monthly spread and a lot of lists.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Review

I started this year with a Hobonichi Cousin, last year with a Weeks, and the years before that with complicated and over-decorated bullet journals. Starting last month, I switched to a plain, slim grid notebook that I drew my own monthly spreads in and I've been keeping notes and lists in the back half of the notebook. Not long after I set that up, this Apica Monthly Schedule book arrived, which is the exact same layout as what I had designed for myself. I know that this layout is all I really need to know where I need to be and when. Yes, the squares are small. But days are short! So, if I run out of room in the square, I've also run out of room in my day. You might be surprised how much I can fit in a square, though. I can still thoroughly overbook myself in this small space.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Interior

This faux leather cover has an interior fold that the schedule book slides into. It can hold two slim A5 notebooks, or one notebook and a memo pad, or one thicker A5 notebook. It has an interior card pocket, two ribbon bookmarks, an extra back pocket, and a pen loop. The stitching is neat and sturdy, so it should stand up to the wear and tear of holding a planner, though I do find that the faux leather can warp over time with use. The pocket slits tend to stretch and lose a bit of integrity after a while, so I'm not certain if it can manage a year of daily use.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Calendar

The cover doesn't need to be for the schedule or planner. It can hold any of the Apica A5 notebooks. Or nearly any A5 notebook, for that matter, as long as it isn't too thick. It's a decent cover, but it didn't blow me away, especially for the $25 price tag. There are a lot of better covers out there for less cost, in my opinion. When this arrived, it was the bonus schedule book that really got my attention.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Writing

The schedule book itself is a thread-bound soft cardstock cover book in A5 size. It begins with a yearly overview page. I've never really figured out what those are for, so I typically leave those blank. Then, there are sixteen monthly spreads, all unlabeled, so you can start and end on any month. The monthly pages have a lined list along the left edge of the page for tracking tasks. After the monthly spreads, there are 15 pages of 5mm grid paper for notes and lists. The paper is fantastic. It's smooth, acid-free, and takes even the most broad and inky fountain pens without so much as a feather. The only pen that bled was a Sharpie fineliner.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Paper Back

It's certainly not a life-organizer. It won't have all the details of my comings and goings, or the minute breakdowns of my goals and plans. But it's the perfect place to keep the crucial info handy, and it's all I need to carry with me to make sure I don't double-book anything as I go about the day. I know it's all I need, because it's all I use for a good quarter of the year. The cover and schedule set is $25 on JetPens, and the schedule itself is only $3.80 for the A5 size. Yes, I can have all the planner I need, with some of the best paper out there, for under $4. I don't need a $50 planner.

Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Back Cover

Of course, I'll end up getting the big fancy planner, anyway. I always do. It never fails. And even if it doesn't help me organize my life better, at least it helps me get excited about the start of a new year. And when it all gets to be too much, I have this simple but effective tool to keep me going through what promises to be another busy year.

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

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Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover Debossed
Posted on September 12, 2019 and filed under Apica, Notebook, Notebook Reviews.

Moleskine Alternatives

Baron Fig Confidant

Baron Fig Confidant

I spoke about Moleskine journals on the podcast this week and it generated a lot of spirited conversation on both sides of the ledger. I think it's pretty clear that I am not a fan of the brand, but I wanted to elaborate a little bit as to why.

When I say Moleskine as a general term I am talking about one specific model: the hardbound Classic Journal in 8.25" x 5". This is the ubiquitous Moleskine. The one that is fawned over by the press, and the one that doesn't fit my needs. That's the key here. My needs. If it fits your needs that's fantastic. You should definitely keep using them. But for me, Moleskine paper falls short of its competition.

For the most part, Moleskines work well with ballpoint pens, fine liquid ink pens, and pencils. I've traveled before with just a Moleskine and a Fisher Space Pen refill and been completely satisfied. But my two favorite pen types - micro tip gel ink pens and fountain pens - perform poorly on Moleskine paper. Luckily, we live in a world where other options are only a mouse click away. I've tested all of the notebooks below and would choose any of them over the standard Moleskine Journal.

Moleskine alternatives (Classic Journal, 8.25" x 5"), in no particular order:

Leuchtturm 1917 - The closest in look, style, feel, and price, but with better performing paper for a wider range of pen types.

Rhodia Webnotebook - My personal favorite, and the best for fountain pens. Longer dry time is the tradeoff.

Baron Fig Confidant - Great style and format, could work better with fountain pens but great with gel ink.

Quo Vadis Habana - Slightly bigger and more expensive but on par or better than Rhodia.

This list just scratches the surface. Don't even get me started on other sizes, such as pocket notebooks and top-bound pads. We could get into the hundreds on that list!

I just ask that you keep in mind one thing when reading this blog or listening to the podcast: You don't have to agree with everything I say. And you shouldn't. Disagreement is good and healthy. We all have specific needs that we are trying to solve for, and within that journey lies the fun. I'll keep having opinions, and you should too.

Posted on June 18, 2015 and filed under Leuchtturm, Notebook, Rhodia, Baron Fig, Moleskine.

BookFactory Scientific and Engineering Notebook Review

Thanks to the team at for sending me this sample of one of the many lab notebooks they carry. I was really impressed with the quality and the layout of the notebook, but being a lab book, I wanted to make sure it got a good once over in its intended environment. Enter my good pen friend - and favorite lab rat - Bryan, now formerly from Okinawa. Take it away Bryan...


I received this Bookfactory lab notebook sample from Brad "The Pen Addict" Dowdy and I have to say that I am quite impressed with what this little puppy can do!  Let's break it down from front to back!

At first glance, this lab notebook looks like just another Moleskine clone, replete with Smyth sewn binding (for durability) and what feels like vinyl over heavy paper backing.  However, the differences become obvious when you open up the cover and see the first page.  It contains a really interesting lesson on what a lab notebook is, how to keep one and how to properly document ideas and findings.   Then, you'll see a table of contents with plenty of space for writing in whatever you like, followed by the taped binding.  This part impressed me the most is the heavy stock paper and the thoroughness of the design.  You can really see that they crafted this notebook to allow a scientist or engineer or any other professional to get notes and data on the page and do so in a manner that protects the idea or data.


Next up, I tried many different kinds of inks in various fountain pens.  I assumed that most writing will be done with a gel or ballpoint pen (and the paper would be chosen specifically for gel or grease ink), so I wanted to check fountain pen ink in case any readers out there like to keep notes with their Lamys (^_^)  As you can see on the reverse scan, some inks fare better than others (Noodler's Black being the only Noodler's that didn't showthrough), but the winner seems to be Diamine's Registrar's Ink, which is a permanent iron gall ink that didn't bleed through even with a wet M nibbed fountain pen.  Rollerball ink could be expected to perform similarly to most fountain inks, with some performing better than others.


Next, I tried to envision the uses for this kind of notebook.  Note that each page is numbered AND there is a space to note the book number, as well.  The signature blocks at the bottom are tailor made for patent documentation or scientific data entry verification, so I thought I'd pretend I was a designer and working on a new idea.  The grid system isn't so small to be useless, but isn't too large, either.  It's like Goldilocks and it's JUST RIGHT!  I then picked up a Zebra Surari 4C (available from!) and went to town on some hypothetical data to show how the grid can be useful in many ways.  I can see this notebook being used in various ways.  Here are some suggestions:  dungeon maps for pencil and paper roleplayers, pixel art mapping, flowcharts, clothing design, language/vocabulary flowcharts, and indexing a collection.


Overall, this book is excellent and I'd definitely recommend this line of notebooks as an alternative to Moleskine notebooks, with a few caveats:

1.  The paper is designed for gel or ballpoint, it seems.  Your favorite fountain ink might not work well with this and you'll get show or bleedthrough.

2.  The black cover, while attractive, isn't good for writing on.  You might need labels to catalog books with.

3. A science bench notebook would have to be larger (A4 or 8.5"x11"), but this little A5 size is PERFECT for everyday carry.

When inspiration hits, you don't want to be caught without a notebook.  Make sure you're ready for creativity with this notebook.

Posted on May 31, 2011 and filed under Lab Notebook, Notebook, Notebook Reviews.