OK full disclosure, I am a bit of a stationery buff. By this I don't mean I ogle at and want to buy everything that catches my eye, but that I have very specific, you could even say high, standards and requirements when it comes to what I need.
Ergonomics are a big factor, notebooks must open flat, and be usable in various different writing positions. They must be tough because I tend to put them through a lot of hard use. Normally I try and invest in a Leuchtturm or a Moleskine, even though they are a little on the expensive side, I find that they are worth it. (Tip: you can buy Moleskines for far less than you'd find them at Fullstop if you check out bookdepository.com).
This is why it has been a pleasant surprise to see all these new stationery brands coming up in Sri Lanka. Journaling, it appears, is finally catching up, resulting in a welcome influx of new local brands entering the market.
One of them is Noteworthy, which recently opened a shop in Maitland Crescent. Their marketing is kind of terrible. The shop space is rather bland and unexciting, and their Instagram handle is utterly an un-memorable butchery of a name.
They do have a helpful sample catalog of their various papers which you can check out. And they do have a great range, with weights ranging up to 350gsm. They offer customized options too, so you can walk in, pick your paper and ask for a notebook with a design on your mind.
While the hardcover notebooks are priced at Rs. 1500 they contain 160 pages, and the spiral bound ones will set you back Rs. 1200. Both the paper and the cover design are potentially customizable, with prices depending on what you want. What follows is a review of the ones available for sale. (Forgive me if its a little harsh, but I will be comparing them largely to Moleskines and Leuchhturms, so that you can get an idea of exactly what you're getting, and decide if it's worth it).
I don't know how much you're invested in the smell of your notebook, but if you are you should know that the paper here, recycled products sourced from Germany and obviously of decent quality, still smells vaguely of a shoe manufacturing plant.
I put my notebooks through a tough life, and still expect them to survive and thrive and eventually end up in a cupboard ready for some distant descendant to be shocked at my atrociously incomprehensible handwriting. But it doesn't look like Noteworthy cuts it.
The paper might be acid-free, but the binding is nowhere near close enough to tough. In fact, just after I started using it, I discovered that the top shelf of the paper inside the hardcover binding was showing wear and tear, this definitely wouldn't last a day out in the wild. The spiral binding is obviously even less durable.
This is obviously a matter of preference, but I like a bit of friction on my covers, and slightly soft edges that don't attack my skin, please. A nice touch of TPU leather would have gone down well, but Noteworthy employs a synthetic, shiny hardness with sharp edges that don't exactly make you want to cuddle their products.
On a more practical note, this also seriously effects writing versatility. Like, if you only write with it on a flat surface, it could work.
You know those little pockets at the back of a notebook in which you can put in all sorts of documents and nonsense? I love them. Sadly Noteworthy doesn't have them.
Hmmm, this review above is highly subjective to my own preferences and assumes you'd need this notebook for carrying around with you all the time to journal in.
The paper is good but the binding and packaging fail. If you want something that looks nice to just keep around your desk and take occasional notes in, this could be for you. But then I'd advice you to carefully evaluate if the price is worth it unless of course, you don't care about proletarian things like money.
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