A Traveler’s Notebook supplier: Glassworks Studios

Fairly quick post, this: previously when I’ve referred to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook and related products, I’ve linked to The Journal Shop, because they were the only people I knew who sold them in the UK. I consider that a decent reason, and I certainly have no complaints about their service.

However, I recently found a link to another shop, Glassworks Studios, which is not specifically a stationery seller and thus probably does not google very highly for notebooks. They do however have an awful lot of Traveler’s Notebook accessories. Supplies of refills and basic products can be a bit erratic with different suppliers, and the Journal Shop has sold out of a lot of refills recently, and hasn’t had updates for months now.

I bought two of the lightweight paper refills from Glassworks and had them delivered very quickly at a good price. There is an important point to make here, though. They have a flat rate for delivery of £6.50 which is based on their general product line – clothes, bags, other heavy sorts of items. Obviously this is a bit much for a couple of items of stationery. I emailed them and they were very happy to send the refills by regular first class post, and refund me the difference. Apparently they are going to update their site with differential postage rates, but until that takes place, you are advised to:

  1. Order and pay as usual, including the delivery charge;
  2. Send them an email saying that you would like to have delivery by Royal Mail instead;
  3. Receive a refund.

(I did enquire whether this would be all right to mention for other people to use, and they said yes.)

Traveler’s Notebook: betrayal and reconciliation

After a while – in fact, on the 18th of October 2010, since I date my journal entries – the Traveler’s Notebook

  1. not lying flat
  2. having the knot at the back
  3. having the metal lump at the top
  4. not having a hard cover

were just a constant annoyance to me. I was looking around at other journals and eventually, after filling five refills (enough for one of their binders) I bought a small Habana notebook and started to use that.

Stopping using the Traveler’s Notebook was quite easily the most emotionally traumatic stationery-related experience that I have ever had. I felt guilty, like I’d betrayed a trust, like I was mistreating a loving and blameless pet. Like in Breakfast At Tiffany’s where she throws the cat out. I had to hide it behind things on the shelf to stop it looking at me with its wide notebook eyes, not quite understanding why it wasn’t being used but still sure that it loved me and I still loved it and soon we would be having happy notebook fun just like before.

Apart from the supremely tactile experience of just picking the thing up, and the way that it gradually molds itself to your hands and habits, the Notebook balances being refillable with being simple enough to feel like an intrinsic part of your writing.

Let’s start with the refillability: there’s a continuity of the physical aspect of your notebook, no matter how long you write in it. In fact, the dual refill structure is quite cunning – I found that I would finish refill #1, have another one behind it, start refill #2 feeling as if it was just a simple continuation of the previous one, then, after a little while, remove refill #1 and put blank refill #3 behind #2. In other words, you’re writing in a notebook with endless pages. I write an awful lot – observations, self-indulgent diarising, work plans, ideas for characters and games and widgets and plots, a lot of testing of pens and inks – and an average A5 notebook lasts me about a month if I am lucky – this is not enough time to really become attached to one, even something otherwise quite characterful (e.g. the Paperchase Noto which I should write about that at some point). I’m afraid that as good as Webnotebooks are they’re really not individually lovable.

Then there’s the simplicity and, er, intrinsicality. A ring binder or a Filofax is refillable, after all, and I could technically carry an A5 ring binder around and top it up with blank paper, but folders just never to me feel like they are all that connected with what they contain. They’re storage mechanisms rather than things to write in. As for Filofaxes, I admit that I’ve never used one so I might be underestimating their level of personal character, but they’ve always seemed like rather fiddly devices, with metal clips and thick covers and teeny tiny refills on thin paper half the size of the cover. The Traveler’s Notebook is so simple in itself that when you put a refill in it, the paper feels as if it has grown there. The word “refill” itself seems inappropriate. (Midori also encourage you to add things to the structure of your notebook and its contents, pen loops and pockets and such, just to tie you cruelly to their product line.)

It doesn’t hurt, incidentally, that the plain refills use the best paper that I’ve ever written on. I cannot think of a single aspect of it that I don’t like – it’s gorgeous. I prefer it even to Rhodia paper, which is saying something.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve gone back to using the Traveler’s Notebook regularly. I find that the leather has softened and become molded to a degree that means the knot is less bothersome, and the soft cover is not bothering me nearly as much as it used to. Also, it loves me. If only I could now ignore the looks coming from my OHTO Tasches.