Monday, August 23, 2010

CoolNotes Journals by teNeues

The CoolNotes product line by teNeues is a Moleskine-like journal that comes in various sizes and color schemes, including colored elastic bands to complement the solid color of the journal--a detail I quite like as it acts as an accessory to my little black notebook and gives it a bit more style.

I recently received a small CoolNotes journal to review and, overall, quite liked it. For some reason my pocket-sized Moleskine decided to hide, so I can't do a comparison of the two. The CoolNotes is definitely smaller than the Moleskine, measuring in at 3 9/16" by 5 1/4" versus the Moleskine's more regular 3.5" by 5.5" size. (In the picture above you can see the CoolNotes is almost the same size as my capped Lamy CP1 Fountain Pen).

The CoolNotes and Moleskine are both hard cover journals with an elastic enclosure, each has 192 pages (96 leaves) of high quality paper, a ribbon books mark, a front page for contact information, and a back pocket that expands to hold receipts, tickets, photos, etc.

The CoolNotes journal has one major difference from the Moleskine: on the 96 leaves, the front side is lined while the back is blank. (Whenever I see something like this I automatically think: an Air Sign designed this. Because choosing one or the other can be very difficult for the Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini-born.) I do like this detail, it seems to give me a choice of how I'm going to write something (blank sheets are more freestyle for me, they take greater discipline to use while lined reminds me of grade school and the teacher looking over my shoulder).

The paper is nice, roughly 80gsm I'd guess. After a lot of pressing the journal did stay flat--mostly, kind of, generally, define "flat." As you can see in the picture to the left, the page is starting to lift, and that's after at least half a dozen pressings. The black gel ink pen I used left a a heavy shadow on the back blank page, as did the fountain pen containing J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite ink, but there was no bleed through of either.

The big question is this: if I hadn't gotten it for free but had to buy it, would I? The answer is yes, if my Barnes and Noble stocks them I definitely will. I'm not sure I'd buy online as the shipping fee is usually too high for my liking, but I'm in Manhattan and can afford to be choosy. If I were back in Allentown, PA, I probably would be online hitting "checkout not" and not worrying too much about it.

I am seriously looking forward to the Fall teNeues lineup for one item in particular: the new CoolNotes Flip Pad. I have reviewed Moleskine's Reporter Notepad, a large hardcover flip pad that I wanted to like but found to be only so-so. It might be that the softcover Reporter is a better notepad, but the cover was only one problem I had with the Reporter. So if the CoolNotes pocket sized flip pad has a fountain pen friendly paper and is stylish as well, that's something I really want to see. I'll be looking for them in the stores that carry teNeues: Barnes and Noble, the Musuem of Modern Art gift shop, The Guggenheim, AI Friedman, and Paper Presentation, and maybe have a review of these new notebooks.


  1. Diane, my name is Chuck and I'm from Chicago and I've got a pretty healthy obsession with flip top notebooks. When Moleskines were gaining popularity early on, the fact that it was difficult to write in them without a sturdy surface, for me, ruled them out. To make a long story short, I ended up creating essentially my perfect notebook by having a leather cover custom designed (complete with pen loop and receipt holder) and custom inserts. Ive never understood why so many Moleskine enthusiasts went for a notebook with such obvious flaws such as the inability to make a record while standing up and not being made with a pen loop (making a new note follows closely behind the ability to recall info).
    Anyway, the flaw with my concept is that we cant all run out and have these items custom designed. I too am excited to see CoolNotes Flip Pad. Though, I still dont understand... even if you locate the perfect type of book... how do you label and archive it when you cant write on the cover? Thats why my inserts are so great. I can go back years now, and locate original jotted notes. Its been Great.
    Really enjoy the blog!!

  2. You had a leather cover designed? I would love to see pictures of that, it must be really fantastic!

    Moleskine flip top has a very sturdy cover but doesn't flip back all the way so you can use it as a writing surface--that is really the traditional reporter's notebook. And the paper isn't fountain pen or rollerball friendly, too easy to bleed through. It's perfect for pencils, however, which, when you think of it, is what reporters back in the 20s and 30s would have used. :)

  3. Well, its really more functional than beautiful... very elegant though. It looks exactly like what you'd see a PI use in some noir film. In fact, it looks like the classic black leather holders that you see for 3 x 5 mead notebooks... except its a lil bigger and I can actually use it!
    I used Ampad 4x8's for years, and I still have a collection of over 50 of them that I dip into periodically for notes taken years ago.
    My only frustration was that they didnt have much protection, and you couldnt really keep a pen with it. Drove me nuts. They were, however, a powerhouse of note taking capacity. Having a handy notebook makes you look prepared, professional and compassionate (and to us geeks, just a little sexy).
    The Moleskines have another drawback though, one common to many notebooks. You can't label the covers. Every one of my completed notebooks gets a volume number, a date range and contents page. It takes maybe ten minutes every time I close one out. But the trade off is that I can locate info from years knowing little more than an approximate date. Moleskines seem designed for specific projects.... not the day to day.
    Anyway, I do have a few pics (as a new Nikon SLR was a recent purchase of mine. Wanna swap emails or find each other on FB?

  4. Chuck, my email is, send me a note 'cause I'd love to chat. :)