I am quickly falling in love with Pocket Notebooks and the convenience of having one of them on me at all times. This is a market that is dominated by the names of Word Notebooks and Field Notes but the Calepino Notebook* is not one to dismiss.
I’ll be honest with you, before seeing these I had never heard of Calepino before and was curious to see if they could compete in this market. Tony over at Studio Alt introduced them to me and as I was contemplating purchasing a pack, I got a message saying that there’s “a little something on its way” to me. And this was the Calepino Notebooks, No. 4 Papier Dot Grid. It was such a pleasant surprise so thank you, Studio Alt! These little badboys have been made in France – and they are definitely teaching me that I need to look out for stationery stores when holidaying across Europe because it would be so worth it!
Calepino offer four types of pocket notebooks – ruled, graph, plain and (the one I got) dot grid. Each is easily recognisable by the bands of colour across the notebook. As you can see, the No. 4 Papier Dot Grid has two grey strips running across the front & back cover (and it is also white!). Whilst the other three are all kraft covers, with strips of red, green or blue running across them. They all follow a simple yet elegant look and I particularly like that the strip of colour goes across the whole of the cover – including the back – allowing you to quickly recognise the notebook from any angle. You get a set of three notebooks in the same type when you buy a packet and they come in a great little cardboard box. When it arrived in the post, the box itself got a bit damaged and bent so I thought it would be really weak and fall apart instantly. However, despite the dent, it is still very much alive and kicking! As you can see from the photo, it opens up easily but when sealed, it is much more sturdy than it looks! I am pleasantly surprised by the box and now use mine to store the spare unused notebooks.
Inside the front cover, you will find a standard page for your contact details. It is written in French – of course – but is really easy to understand, even if you don’t understand French! I never bother to fill out these contact details but if you want to, it has a space for your name, address, telephone number and email address. However, this section also includes something that’s not super common in notebooks but should be in these kinds of books I think (at least I have only ever seen it in one other brand before!) and that is a section that says “commencé le” and “terminé”. If my French is correct then I would translate that to the beginning and end, giving you a space to write the dates that you started and finished this notebook in. Definitely a great addition if you go through a lot of pocket notebooks and need a quick way of finding a note that you made in the past. (Assuming you keep your notebooks, that is – and I know that I never do!). Alongside that, it allows you to write the place of where you started / ended your notebook – which I can see being great if you want each one for your different travels or even just for your own records and memories.
Inside the back cover, there’s a story of the origin of the notebooks. I don’t understand enough French to be able to translate it for you – I won’t even try to! In fact, I’m pretty much guessing that the back contains the origin by the fact it says “a l’origine” – which sounds pretty similar! There is a handy little ruler on the edge that has actually come in use sometimes. It’s great when you’re trying to work out the length of something small whilst out and about. You don’t need to carry a tape measure or a ruler now – just bring your notebook (which should be with you anyway!) and you’re sorted! It came in useful when I was trying to figure out if some stickers I had purchased would be the right size or not. In general, I think the inside covers are quite typical of the sorts of things you would expect to find. It can be useful to some people but for others, it might not be. It really is up to your personal preference on that side. But it was not the cover convinced me that this notebook was great – it was the paper quality and its durability.
The Dot Grid version has light grey dots running across the page that are dark enough to see easily but light enough not to distract you from what is written on the paper. I have carried around one of these for the past six weeks and pretty much grabbed any pen in sight to use on it. The quality of the paper is amazing! It takes each pen without fuss. I have never come across any feathering – no matter what pen I use. There is very limited show through and it’s even rarer to see any bleeding. The only time I came across any bleeding was with some fountain pens. There would be a small amount of bleeding through the page and would show up as small dots on the other side. Nonetheless, it is such minor bleeding that I barely notice it and still use a fountain pen with the notebook whenever I have one in my hand. As you can see from the pen test, the quality of the paper passes this test without doubt! My favourite results came out with the faber-castell pitt artist pen in medium. I love how sharp and bold it is on the page and was quite surprised to see that there was no bleeding, show through or feathering when using this pen.
All in all, I think this is a great all round notebook. I use mine to hoard my notes in, jotting down ideas or things I need to do as soon as I remember it. I have thrown my notebook around… tossed it into my bag, bent it out of shape and scribbled all over it. Yet, it is still in great shape. You can barely tell it has been used. In fact, unless you saw the messy pages on the inside, you would think it was still pretty new. I’m really impressed at how well the notebook has taken all of this abuse. Its durability is definitely commendable. If you are into Pocket Notebooks, then the Calepino notebooks are worth trying out. In fact, even if you don’t like Pocket Notebooks, you should still check them out because you will quickly fall in love with these small little beauties! If you are interested in them, I got mine from Studio Alt. It is possible to get the other three paper types (ruled, lined or plain) from Studio Alt too, if you prefer one of those. I’m a huge fan of this store – they are really friendly and their service is amazing. So it is definitely a company I would recommend.
* Disclaimer: I was gifted this set of Calepino notebooks for free from Studio Alt (thanks Tony!), but there was no pressure or request to review them. I chose to review them simply because I love them and thought more people should know about Calepino as it is not a brand that is as well as known as some of the others, in my opinion. I have engaged with Studio Alt a lot on Twitter and really love their service from there.
Note: Studio Alt has now, sadly, closed but Tony set up a new business that focuses on notebooks and this beautiful Calepino notebooks are available from there. Check out the new store: Pocket Notebooks.