Journal picking

My favorite writing notebook is the softcover pocket Leuchtturm1917 journal. I found one with a flexible soft white cover in a local bookstore years ago and loved that it lies flat, has creamy off-white paper, faintly printed lined and grid versions, and feels overall superior to its Moleskine counterpart. The Leuchtturm1917 has since grown and introduced new sizes, colors, and a variety of styles that seem to have kicked off with the popularity of bullet journaling.

I went through phases with my journaling preferences. Early in college I experimented with a variety of different styles of notebooks, and there was that period of time where I filled stacks of cow-print composition notebooks inspired by the film Henry Fool. I have since strictly kept a pocket Leuchtturm1917 and go through one about every 3 months. I recently purchased two plain medium hardcovers and noticed a striking difference. I shared my past woes with the decline of paper and binding quality with Nifty at Notebook Stories, but noticed a new development.

No Leuchtturm1917 is the same, each has a slightly different cover overhang and binding imperfections. While the "old" and "new" versions are both made in Taiwan (the even newer ones are now made in China and have declined in paper quality), there are interesting differences. By the way, the "old" version I am referring to is not the same as the glorious ones that were made when they first started selling them in the US. Those had a single bookmark and creamier paper. How can one tell if the sealed notebook is the old or new version? Here is a tip! The old one has a smaller font on the back of the jacket. The new one has a "FSC" stamp on the lower right. That's pretty much all you can tell from the outside to determine if the precious old style is in the stack. Yes, I am the weirdo looking through and comparing them in that stationary aisle, like a picky eater selecting the right kind of apple or knocking on a watermelon because they all look alike but not the same inside.

The "if lost" opening page has been redesigned. The table of contents looks very different and shortened to 2 pages instead of 3. The old book has 249 marked pages, the new ends on 251. The branding and markings in the new notebook are darker and bolder. I prefer the old version with the smaller and lighter numbering. The binding, luckily, looks the same but I can't say the same about the paper until I use them. The new version has 80 G/QM paper marked on the inside of the front cover, but feels thinner to the touch compared to the older version (I tested this by touching both with my eyes closed to remove bias). The changes are subtle, but these are the sorts of things I notice right away. The bold numbering on the bottom of the pages is unnerving.

Have you used a Leuchtturm1917 notebook before? What are your notebook pet peeves? 


  1. Mmm, I had gotten one (a sketchbook I believe?) couple of years ago. I came across it in Germany I think. I was... annoyed. The binding was not to my liking (and the binding is one of the few reasons why I keep going back to Moleksine over and over again) as it was too bulgy.The other thing I remember disliking was that the paper was too white.
    For me watermarking and numbered pages are a pet peeve as it interferes with the canvas of the page if that makes any sense. Still, I had loved it's sky blue of a color and was pleased with the smoothness of the paper, or so I remember.
    I keep going through phases with my sketchbooks and notebooks, I am constantly looking for different companies, qualities, bindings etc. In general I have a soft spot for all these types of office supplies.

    1. I can imagine how frustrating that blue sketchbook must have been. It sounds like you use sketchbooks for art, and can see how any kind of page numbering or markings can be a distraction. I like that you still enjoyed that sketchbook.

      I've never tried a Moleskine sketchbook, but have used them in the past and don't like how their paper and binding have dropped in quality.



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