A Tale of Two Notebooks

Ecosystem Notebooks
As much as I love writing things in electronic form, there is still something about pen and paper that activate deeper, more thoughtful, thinking for me. The fact that a notebook and pen are about as portable of a writing studio as you’re going to get doesn’t hurt. That said I also like to digitize my notebook pages once a week. That is where a bit of a challenge has crept up.

I’ve been a fan of Moleskine notebooks for quite a long time. I’ve been especially fond of the Evernote-branded Moleskine1. It has a beautifully crafted cover and an elegant feel. The feel of the paper is great. The construction is top notch and each of the notebook offerings has their own unique features when paired with the Evernote mobile app and the Document Camera feature.

Document capture with Evernote works surprisingly well and I’ve been very happy with it when capturing the pages of my Moleskine but I’d prefer to capture pages with my ScanSnap scanner. That isn’t possible with the Moleskine because the pages aren’t perforated2. So I started looking for a comparable notebook that had similar features but with perforated pages. Enter the ecosystem notebook.

I bought two ecosystem notebooks from Amazon, the hard cover Author in Clementine and a flexi cover Author in Onyx. This mini review is about the hard cover notebook because I haven’t had a chance to use the flexi cover notebook quite yet.

Let me say this, it isn’t a Moleskine. It’s not terrible but it doesn’t have any of the aesthetics of a Moleskine. It certainly is trying to be like a Moleskine; it has the back pocket, the bookmark, and the elastic band. The paper actually feels pretty good. Let’s remember that this is a 100% post-consumer recycled product so the paper was a surprise.

The tightness of the cover was terrible. The notebook was very hard to open the first time I used it. Upon opening the book the I encountered a bit of a mess both with the front cover papers as well as the back:

Front pages glued together
Front pages glued together
Problem with back of notebook
Problem with back of notebook

As can be seen the first two pages of the book were glued to the front paper and were unusable. The binding was also completely messed up. Those pages were carefully detached from the front (and back) paper and removed from the notebook.

Reviews on Amazon.com indicate that people did not have good luck with the elastic band staying glued in to the cover. I also saw complaints about the bookmark coming loose quickly. In my own experience so far they seem to be secure but admittedly I have not used the book enough to really work those two pieces out. I am still in the process of finishing up the Moleskine.

The thing I absolutely love here is the perforated paper. The bit of journaling I have done so far was easily brought into Evernote via my ScanSnap and to me this outweighs the negatives I have encountered. I’m a fan of quality construction but at the end of the day these pages are going to be removed from the notebook and scanned so tight fit and finish isn’t really a necessity. If it doesn’t fall apart I’ll be happy.

As I was writing this post I came across a new notebook app for the iPad which absolutely floored me with how good the writing experience is. I’ve test driven a lot of notebook apps that promised the world but I think Notes Plus has actually delivered what I have always dreamed of in an iPad writing experience. I will post more about my experience with that later.

  1. Not only stylish but a damned good deal as they include 3 months of Evernote Premium and can be had from Amazon for less than $20. 
  2. Yes I know I could cut them out but it adds an extra step. I want to make paper capture easier, not more difficult. 

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