(This is a guest post by Garrett Kubat. You can find more from Garrett on Twitter @gazkubat.)
The reNote notebook is designed and made by Joshua Lepley of Intelligent Design Co.. I discovered these from a Kickstarter campaign that was used to allow for further acquisition of materials. I was drawn to these notebooks because they seem to be unique in that they are made out of repurposed materials.
In my case, one of the journal sized notebooks I have has a cover made from a soda carton, another pocket sized is made from a cereal box. This is something unique and I was also intrigued to learn that these notebooks were hand made by Joshua himself. There are elements of care and uniqueness in every one of these notebooks. They come in three sizes, a journal, a pocket and a wallet. I have found a use for the journal and the pocket but given that I almost always have a pocket notebook I don't have much use for a wallet.
I'll give a rundown of what I think is great about them, and what I could see being a problem for some people.
What is great about them:
Very fountain pen friendly paper! You'll see in the comparisons that it performs much better than the Field Notes and the Doane Utility journal, although the Rhodia pocket notebook does perform better. This might be a bit unfair given that some notebooks are not made for fountain pens, but I consider this a huge plus in favour of the reNote.
Each notebook is hand made. Very few things are handmade now. If you watch the Kickstarter video you can see the process that Joshua goes through for each notebook.
The materials are repurposed. This isn't something that I see very often and view it as a huge plus towards the notebooks.
They are durable. The covers are from cartons that are solid and have a rigidity to them that I find to be great when there is no hard surface to write on. One difference is that the "Vintage reNote Journal" has a cover made from something similar to card-stock and would note be as durable as the others.
The journals are unique. Every single one I have is different. The covers come from cartons ranging from soda to cereal to chicken nuggets to beer.
What could be a problem:
Some of the typeface remains on the paper that is used. This doesn't bother me because it is a good quality paper and for the most part the typeface is minimal. There are some sections where it does take up a fair amount of the page.
The pages are blank. Some people may prefer grid, lines, dots, grid and lines etc. My preference is always towards blank or grid so this again isn't a problem for me.
They aren't perfect. The pages often stick out from the cover when the notebook is closed. This varies by every notebook but it is never to such an extent that I would view them as unusable.
I didn't do anything to extravagant here given that I do not have an overly wide range of pens to work with. That being said I decided to be extremely cruel and use the Kuretake Brush Pen I received with a bottle of Noodler's Baystate Blue to see how all the notebooks held up under immense ink flow from a very saturated ink. I would say that for the most part the reNote and the Rhodia notebooks held up fairly well.
How to get them:
The prices and options are as follows. For my most recent order I contacted Joshua from his website and place my order by email.
reNote (standard cover logo) - hand assembled, staple binding:
Journal - 5.5" X 8.5" - 20 pgs - 2 pk - $12
Pocket - 3.5" X 5.5" - 20 pgs - 2 pk - $6
Wallet - 2" X 3.25" - 10 pgs - 3 pk - $4.50
Vintage reNote (vintage cover logo) - hand assembled, hand saddle stitched binding:
Journal - 5.5" X 8.5" - 20 pgs - 2 pk - $16
Pocket - 3.5" X 5.5" - 20 pgs - 2 pk - $8
Wallet - 2" X 3.25" - 10 pgs - 3 pk - $6
Having talked to Joshua Lepley a few times by email I can say that he is an incredibly talented and creative person. The products that he makes and is associated with all have the elements of quality but also care and an interest in how they can be useful. I really do enjoy using these notebooks because of how well they perform with a fountain pen. They won't replace other notebooks that I use, but they have found their way into the rotation.