hands holding notebooks

As Pen manufacturers the obvious next product has always been a notebook, it’s also something our customers have been asking us to make for a long time. At first glance producing a notebook seems like a straightforward task, select some paper, stick on a cover and hit go. However, like our Pen, we weren’t interested in the mediocre, we wanted to make something better. So, a few years ago we set out to see if we could find an answer to the question. What makes a great notebook?.

We began by seeking out and testing every notebook we could find, from small independent makers to large international brands. This process slowly became an obsession that grew into a collection numbering the hundreds and has taken us around the world and back. But like all healthy obsessions, it has enabled us to build a rich picture of the choices and information we are presented with today and the expectations and experiences of finally putting pen to paper.

In some cases we were confronted with an illusion of choice, a homogenised collection of similar products differentiated only by clever marketing stories and decorative details. Others felt like a leap into the unknown, where the information on what, where and how the notebook was created were non-existent. Then there were the compromises either in the design, manufacturing or more importantly the paper.

After feeling we had exhausted our options, we decided to leave the shops behind and dived into the past and explored museums, markets and garage sales. We started to realise that the books that survived all shared the hallmarks of a product that had been both crafted and cared for in its construction and valued not only as a product but as a tool. These notebooks also showed through their use that they were not just a block of pages to fill but special items that should be cherished and treasured.

Armed with all this new information and insight we reached out to our customers to understand their experiences and to see if they correlated with what we had found. With a few expectations the responses we received reflected what we had learned.

We learned that at its core a notebook needs three things. Firstly it needs to be practical, where the form follows the function and less is more. Secondly, it needs to be portable, as a notebook that isn’t easy to carry won’t get used. Lastly but most importantly personal, it needs to connect with the way you make your mark and the creative tools you use.

Did we find out what makes a great notebook? You’ll have to make your mark in an AJOTO pocket paper notebook to find out!

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