Posts filed under Notebook Reviews

Maruai Basic Notebooks Review

Maruai Basic Notebooks Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

At this point, most people are familiar with pocket notebooks — pen addicts and non-addicts alike. The popularity of Field Notes in the last several years has opened the flood gates for lower quality, lower cost alternatives in big box retail stores, and it's because the pocket notebook is an invaluable tool. Well, I recently learned that there are pocket notebooks, and then there are pocket notebooks that can fit in the pockets of those aforementioned pocket notebooks.

Maruai Basic Notebooks

The Maruai Basic Notebooks line is a selection of miniature notebooks that are even smaller than the standard 3.5" x 5.5" size with which we're all familiar. The "Mini" Notebook comes it at a whopping 3.2" x 2.2", while the "Pocket" Notebook is a much larger 4.1" x 2.4". While both notebooks are quite diminutive in size, they have a lot to offer in quality and easy-to-store-literally-anywhere-ility.

Let's start off with the common aspects of these two notebooks. Both share the same quality paper, which is a pleasant ivory color. I don't know the actual weight of the paper, but it performs about as well as the standard Field Notes paper. I wouldn't say it's fountain pen friendly, but it holds up pretty well. For gel, ballpoint, and hybrid ballpoint inks, it's fantastic. The paper is smooth with a small amount of texture, providing a pleasant level of feedback.

Maruai Basic Notebooks Writing

Both notebooks also come with the same color options — Black, Orange, Yellow, Green, Gray, and Navy. The colored covers are simply that — each color uses the same paper and line type, unlike other brands that use the color to indicate the line style on the paper.

The covers are also made of the same robust, textured material. They aren't smooth, and the subtle texture feels great in the hand. They're the weight of a very light cardstock, very similar to other pocket notebook brands.

As far as similarities go, that's the end of the road. The differences at this point aren't gigantic, but they might certainly sway your preference outside of the size option alone.

Maruai Basic Notebooks Paper

Starting with the (adorably) smaller Mini notebook, it offers 48 pages in a twin-staple binding. The paper on this size is all blank, so you don't have any decisions to make on that front.

At just over 3 inches tall and 2 inches wide, it shares the dimensions of a credit card. Sure, it's a lot thicker, but that's pretty impressive. Like JetPens claims, you can store this notebook in a credit card slot of a wallet. This shows just how many options you have when it comes to storing this little guy. In fact, it's so small that it becomes prone to being lost. It can easily slip into places other items can't, increasing the likelihood of misplacing it or mysteriously vanishing.

The binding (which is on the side of this notebook) and cover are well made, but once you start using this notebook, it will not stay closed.

Maruai Basic Notebooks Pocket

Moving on to the larger cousin, the Pocket notebook is only slightly larger, but it also sports a sewn top binding, which completely changes the usage options (at least for me). I've always been a huge fan of top-bound notebooks, and this unique size has been interesting to use.

With 64 pages of 5mm grid paper, this notebook offers the structure many crave. While it won't fit in a credit card slot, it's still incredibly small and capable of fitting places other notebooks can never dream of. I've really enjoyed using this notebook over the Mini because it seems to be easier to use when writing and jotting down quick notes. That might be because it's larger, is top-bound, or a combination of both.

The Mini comes in at $4 and the Pocket is $5.75. This is a premium price considering how you can usually pick up a three-pack of notebooks for around $10 from other makers, and the paper quality isn't amazing by any stretch. To me, this is a niche notebook that fits a size criteria that other notebook makers simply aren't offering at large scale. If you have a specific use for these notebooks and their diminutive size, I'm sure they'll serve you well! As far as notebooks go, they perform quite well for jotting down notes and disappearing when not in use.

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


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Maruai Basic Notebook
Posted on July 3, 2019 and filed under Maruai, Notebook Reviews.

Studio Neat Totebook Notebook Review

Studio Neat Totebook Notebook Review

I’ve been testing out a new product from my friends Dan and Tom at Studio Neat over the past couple of weeks under the notation REDACTED in my stationery usage log. They gave me an early look and asked me not to share it until it is live, which I’m happy to do. I’m also happy to say that the product is now live!

Studio Neat Totebook Notebook

The Studio Neat Totebook is the portable companion to the desk-bound Panobook and collaborator with the Mark One, their wonderful pen design. Studio Neat is taking over the stationery world!

I’m a big fan of the quality, style, and performance of the Panobook, so my expectations were high for the Totebook. Studio Neat’s design philosophy is present in this new product, with a clean, minimal design, and thoughtful add-ons to what looks like a basic notebook from the outside.

Studio Neat Totebook

The paper looks, feels, and performs similarly to the Panobook, but spec-wise, it is different. The Totebook uses wood-free paper, which is made via a chemical process as opposed to a mechanical one as used for traditional paper. In use, I wouldn’t have known the difference - I just know that it works well with any pen and paper I threw at it.

My handwritten review was done with the Schmidt P8127 rollerball in blue, which is a wide, wet writer, and it worked flawlessly. The only feathering I saw was with the even wetter Tombow Brush Pen, and the notorious Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Marker wasn’t as tragic as I have seen in other notebooks.

Studio Neat Totebook Perforation

I mentioned add-ons above, and the Totebook has a specific one I don’t normally see: The last 8 pages feature a perforation that splits the page into quadrants. I love this, as seen by my chat recap to Dan when I discovered it. I never want to rip pages out of any bound notebook, and this alleviates any hesitancy I have about tearing away. It also ships with spine stickers for help with archiving your notebook when complete.

Studio Neat Totebook Writing

I love what this notebook is, but I do have two minor quibbles with it. If you know me at all, the first one is easy to pin down: This notebook has no size. Call it smart-sized, right-sized, Neat-sized - whatever you want to call it, but it’s not normal-sized in the common A or B international standards. This is a me problem, and one of the hills I will apparently die on one day, but I like notebook sizing standards. The best I can come up with for this one is B6-ish.

Secondly, the paper “waves” near the spine. This happens to thicker softcover notebooks from time to time, although I don’t know exactly why. For me, I notice it mostly when I am not writing as opposed to when I am. It doesn’t affect usability, but I can’t help but notice it visually.

Studio Neat Totebook

The Totebook is made to be small, portable, pliable, have really good paper, and a few bonus extras to boot. It is everything I have come to expect from the Studio Neat Stationery Department, including a more than reasonable $20 for two price tag. If this notebook fits your aesthetic and workflow then it is well worth grabbing a pack or two to add to your portable writing arsenal.

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


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

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Studio Neat Totebook Review
Posted on May 28, 2019 and filed under Studio Neat, Notebook Reviews.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Review

Makers South Leather Notebook Cover

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Several weeks ago, I wrote a review of the Midori MD Goat Leather A5 Notebook Cover. Since that cover was untanned, the instructions said to leave it in a sunny room so it could darken over time. I put it in the sunniest room in our house, the Florida Room, but this turned out to be a big mistake. The Florida Room is also where our cats sleep at night. One cat decided that my beautiful, sleek Midori cover made for a terrific scratching pad.

Scratched 1.jpg

I know I should have accepted this with grace and considered the cover Wabi-Sabi. But I bought this cover because of its soft texture and the claw holes just ruined it for me. The Midori MD is my poetry-writing notebook, and I want it to be in an aesthetically pleasing cover. Besides, it turns out I don’t like the color the goatskin turned. It’s an orangey-tan that reminds me of Calamine Lotion from childhood. Blech.

When I started hunting for a replacement cover, I happened upon Makers South on Instagram and loved the look of their leather. They are a husband and wife team who make all sorts of leather goods by hand. Although they often have items in stock, they didn’t have any A5 notebooks when I visited the site. Luckily, they also make notebooks to order, so I sent an email inquiring about some of their leathers. I received a quick reply from Chrispian Burks with pictures of the leathers I had asked about and a photo of a piece of leather that was totally unique. He said he didn’t know what it was called, but he thought I might like it since it was so interesting. I loved it!

I decided on a simple notebook with a snap closure and no extras. Of course, when you place an order, you have all sorts of options, including multiple pocket styles, closures, pen loops, and even a sewn-to-the-cover pen sleeve. The base price for an A5 made-to-order notebook is $70.

My notebook arrived in about a week and a half (much faster than the four to five-week wait time indicated on the site). It came in a square cardboard shipping box and was wrapped in brown paper. I gasped when I opened it. It. Was. Gorgeous!

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover

Whatever the leather is called, it has character. It’s a reddish-brown color with lots of tan crackles (I’m sure there’s a technical term, but I don’t know what it is). It’s smooth to the touch and rather thin. I wanted a sleek notebook, so the thinness of this leather is perfect.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook

The notebook has a simple snap closure. Unfortunately, after a few days of use the snap assembly came apart, and I had to send the notebook back for repair. It is holding up well, so far.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Snap

The back of the cover has two cool details. First, is the Makers South brand embossed in the bottom corner. It’s simple and melts into the leather so that you hardly notice it. Still, I think it looks really nice.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Logo

The second detail is the cool stitching attaching the strap for the snap closure.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Stitching

The thread used for all the stitching is thick and full of texture.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Thread

I’m really happy with how the cover came out. My Midori MD Notebook fits perfectly, and I’m contentedly writing poetry.

Makers South Leather A5 Notebook Cover Midori

If you’re looking for some really nice leather goods (notebooks, wallets, keychains, etc.) I highly recommend Makers South to you. You can choose from a whole range of leathers and have any notebook made to order just for you.

And if anyone wants my cat-clawed MD Goat Leather cover, let me know.


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Makers South Leather A5
Posted on April 19, 2019 and filed under Makers South, Notebook Reviews.