Moo has provided this book (and a giveaway copy, see below!) to me at no charge for review purposes.
There are simply a ton of great notebook options out there right now. The Moo Hardcover Notebook is no exception. This beauty has a few cool options that set it apart from some of the other options out there and in some ways give it an edge.
First off, the binding is a little different than most notebooks out there right now. There are a lot of "lay flat" books, but not much like the Moo and its open, coptic-style binding. Basically, the spine of the cover and the spine of the pages aren't glued together or attached in any way. With no glue, this notebook can lay flat, and I mean FLAT, at any page. The hardcover also lays flat, so you get no bump from it. At first it was a little weird for me to see that part of the book uncovered...it looks unfinished. But the binding isn't really ever seen unless you're purposely looking at it. And it's neat.
The paper is Munken Kristall paper from Sweden. It's archival, non-glare, smooth, and great for fountain pens at 100gsm. 160 pages, split up with 16 pages of colored paper in the middle. The color you get depends on the book you order. I got a charcoal grey with mint green paper. This paper is GF Smith, unlined, and thicker at 135gsm. It's got a bit more tooth as well.
The Munken Kristall takes ink very well. No feathering or bleed with "writing" sized fountain pen nibs, so feel free to use both sides of the page. Gels pens and rollerballs perform beautifully on this paper. Brush pens and large nibs more than likely show through, as I swabbed some ink near the bottom of my test page and the part I swabbed over 3 or 4 times did bleed. No one has won the Sharpie test so far, and I didn't expect this one to either. It didn't. The blank GF Smith colored paper in the center is even thicker held up to swabbing, though one of my rollerballs did bleed through when I went over the same spot a bunch of times (which you will never do in practice).
For pencil, the tooth on the Munken Kristall is good, it holds graphite well. Ghosting is always a thing with toothy paper that takes a lot of graphite, but this tooth is a little less than something like the Field Notes Utility or the Baron Fig papers, so the ghosting and smearing isn't quite as bad on softer pencils as it is on those. You don't get the effect of a pencil acting softer than graded because of the tooth.
Lined is the only option for the book, and the lines are 6mm apart. One thing I didn't like is that the lines don't go all the way to the edge of the page. I never like when page rulings don't reach the edge, no matter how nice the book is. I love lined paper the best, so seeing this was a bit of a disappointment. There is a nice blank heading and a circle on the bottom edge for writing a page number or maybe your own sort of code. Maybe dot grid or graph is in their future?
The cover is fabric, and there are 6 options. I tested the Sky Blue, but they have Charcoal Grey, Midnight Blue, and Wine Red as part of the "Classic" collection. In the "Bright" collection, they have Lime Green and Berry Red in addition to the Sky Blue I looked at. Each cover color comes with a different middle paper color as well. You can find all the different color combos on their website. I don't know how I feel about the colored paper being smack dab in the middle: part of me wants it to be at the front or back, but aesthetically, it looks better being dead center. The bookmark ribbon is the same color as the covers as opposed to the colored-paper. The ribbon isn't quite long enough for my liking, but it does the trick. Better than having no ribbon at all.
Did I mention the slipcover? This may be the coolest part of the whole thing. From what I can gather, there are 2 different colors, white and orange. The orange looks lovely with the Charcoal Grey book. I'm a fan of little details like this, that something extra that just turns this from good to great. I like to keep my things nice, rarely drawing or putting stickers or otherwise "customizing" my notebooks (pocket notebooks are another story: I'll use a sticker to reinforce the spine or cover). So the slipcase allows for me to have a nice look on the shelf after the book is used and battered. I'm not really sure if their intended use is for you to carry the slipcase with the notebook, but I'll be keeping it aside and using it to archive the finished notebook on the shelf.
There's also a business card holder hidden in the belly band that you can attach via some glue strips on the back of it. It's a neat little addition and on-brand for Moo, but I don't see myself using it, and it feels like a cheeky little wink from the maker of the book rather than something that's been given to us for a purpose and usefulness. I might sing a different song about it if it were built in or there were a bigger "pocket" (like a Moleskine) but as a stick-on piece, it just feels "cool" as opposed to practical.
At $19.99, it's similarly priced to a Baron Fig Confidant ($18) and the same price as a Moleskine hardcover (though the fabric covered Moleskines are higher). It's got great paper, so if you're a Moleskine user, and this interests you, it's definitely a step up at the same price. You get the addition of the slipcover, which is very nice, so for the money it's worth it.
This is a nice notebook. Moo's style of lay-flat binding sets this one apart from similarly priced notebooks just a little bit. There are a few things I don't like about it, most notably the ruling not making the edge of the paper, but overall this is a nice addition to a style that has been coming into my personal usage a lot more lately: the hardcover, A5-ish notebook. It's definitely next in line for my daily carry and I will update here when I've finished it to let you know if I'd buy another one.
Available from Moo. $19.99 in 6 color options.
For the giveaway: same as last time - sign up below, and I will randomly choose the winner on Saturday, June 10th! I'm not a spammer and am doing nothing with your email addresses other than using them to contact you if you win!