Small format hard-bound notebooks are in an interesting spot in the market. They have their fans, but are they functional enough to find a home in your pockets when deciding on a portable writing kit? To me, they are not.
The prime reason I rarely use this style is because the hard covers are too stiff in the 3.5” x 5.5” size. The Holtz SenseBook is no exception. It is too big to carry in a pocket, and too small to lay flat with this number of pages in this type of binding. That said, there are some redeeming values here.
The leather cover is a single layer and somewhat pliable, unlike similar products from Moleskine or Rhodia, who wrap leather around cardboard or some other material. This gives is some flex, although you wouldn’t know it from how stiff it feels. But it can bend, and I’ve had not problem bending the cover all the way around the back and return to its original shape.
Transotype did a nice job with paper performance-wise. It is marketed as wood-free paper, which confused me enough to have to look it up. The manufacturing process removes the wood components and the remaining materials are used. Wood free paper also doesn’t yellow as much, but with the cream color used here you won’t see it as readily regardless.
In use, it reminds me a lot of Leuchtturm1917 paper. It handles most inks well, with only the widest nib fountain pens bleeding through to the back of the page, but only barely and not to the page behind it.
The extras in the SenseBook are six index pages in the front, 16 perforated pages in the back, with numbered pages throughout and a rear storage pocket. The light brown leather is set off nicely by the red ribbon bookmark and red elastic closure band. I could do without the double tag label hanging off the cover though.
That is the SenseBook in a nutshell. Beautiful, not functional. It’s not a bad notebook by any stretch. It won the highly prestigious RedDot Design Award in 2013 and the German Design Award in 2015. Congratulations - great job! When it wins its first functionality award I might be more interested.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)