I can't believe it's been 6 months already. With the site's first birthday a little over a month away, I thought I'd do a little Halftime report on 2017, in books.Read More
There was a lot of activity surrounding Field Notes this year, more than I can remember in previous years. They did quite a few collaborations apart from the usual ones. They started a new series of city flag books, and added a whole new size and style to the line. Let’s take a look at what was released this year.
Quarterly Colors editions
Sweet Tooth: Spring release. Colored paper, blank, the same color as the cover. Perforated for tearing out to leave behind notes, use as note cards, etc. 100# cover with 70# paper. Foil stamped. Personally, not a favorite of mine, but we saw a lot of illustrators and sketchers have some fun with this. Tina over at Fueled By Clouds & Coffee did some great work with the Sweet Tooth.
Byline: Summer release. The reporter’s notebook. John Dickerson from Face the Nation enlisted Field Notes to help create this, and after years of getting requests for one, the decided to go ahead with it. Wire-bound at the top, the dark gray cover also protects the wire binding from getting snagged on things, instead of just being an extra sheet on top of paper. 120# cover with 70# text, ruled paper inside that has a slight stone gray tinge to it. They claim pocketability, but that’s if you’re not planning on sitting down. For me, it was great to use as a short form diary/journal, to round out the thoughts of the day. And I hung one up on our kitchen bulletin board for grocery lists…in our house, it’s the perfect size for that task.
Lunacy: Fall release. A black cover die cut to show the moon behind it that’s printed on the flyleaf. Reticle grid, slightly gray paper. Embossed Field Notes logo and embossed moon on the back. Each book’s die cut is different stages of the moon, full, half, crescent. Subscribers also get a book with no die-cut, or the “New Moon”. See my full review.
Black Ice: Winter release. Pur-bound, entire cover foil stamped, except for the spine. Lined paper. 100# Cover with 70# text, the same Finch Paper that graces the America the Beautiful edition. See my full review.
Nixon: An America the Beautiful-esque set of 3 different glossy covers, one blank, one ruled, one graph. The second in as many years from Nixon. I like the look of these things, but the one I used blew up in my pocket fairly quickly.
LL Bean: The first in what seems like will be an on-going series. Kraft-style books that are just different covers. One camo, one hunter green, one kraft with green lettering. I wasn’t super-impressed with these, but if the next ones that have leaked on eBay are any indication, they look like they’ve stepped it up a notch.
Carhartt: My favorite Field Notes release of the year. All lined, Carhartt logo on the cover, different colors for each book, different outdoors theme on each back cover. See my full review.
XOXO: Another year, another XOXO book. These are trippy books designed by Mark Weaver. The XOXO books have been getting crazier and crazier every year, and that’s an awesome thing. But unfortunately, there are rumors this may be the last year…it remains to be seen, but if it is, they went out with a bang.
Tournament of Books: Red cover kraft wth the ToB logo on the front. Sold as singles for $2, and Field Notes matched the $2, and donated it to 826 National. Cool idea, and I’ll be buying more of these when they do it this year.
EEEK: This year, Field Notes co-creator and designer Aaron Draplin released a monograph / mid-career retrospective called Pretty Much Everything. In addition to this, he released the “Everything Else Enhancement Kit” which included, among many things, a special made Field Notes that everyone has since termed the “EEEK” pack. Black canvas-style cover with orange foil stamp, orange paper. Not one of my favorites for actual use, but a great collector piece and a nice piece of design.
Subscriber reprints: Field Notes Colors subscribers got a treat this year in the form of a surprise shipment of a 2-pack that contained one Butcher Orange and one Butcher Blue book, a reprinting of the original first 2 Colors editions, with each subscribers name on the belly band. These are exact reprints other than the edition declaration on the inside cover. They also gave these away for free if you went to FNHQ during announced weekends during the holidays and spent over $20.
Brand’s Hall Pen: A special release, super-expensive pen that was made from wood from reclaimed from a famous Chicago building, created in partnership with Allegory Goods. This is a $160 rollerball pen that, unless you’re a completist, probably doesn’t need to be purchased. Limited to 1500 pens.
New year-round books
Front Line: The standard version of the Byline edition. The differences are a lighter gray for the cover and a more standard white paper. A great addition to the line.
Chicago & Portland: The first two in what I hope is a series of city flag books. These are Kraft editions with city flag designs printed on them. The Chicago books came out first, at the beginning of the year, then the Portland books later in the year. Both are still available and don’t seem to be limited as of yet. Chicago and Portland were picked because of the home cities of Field Notes and Draplin Design Co, respectively. I will be interested to see where this goes in the future.
I may have missed some! What I didn't do is look for all the after-market, re-branded, Kraft books out there, like the High West Distillery. There are just too many of those instances and most people, besides the craziest Nut, don't see these books. Hell, I even made my own in my printer.
I have a wish list for what I'd like to see in 2017 coming soon!
Field Notes has once again partnered with a heritage clothing brand, this time iconic workwear brand Carhartt of Dearborn, Michigan.
Earlier this year, Field Notes did a collaboration with L.L. Bean. These books with Carhartt are a step up from those books. The Bean books were essentially kraft books with a couple different cover designs. These Carhartt books are heavier and heartier, with a full complement of retro-y goodness on the back covers.
Starting with the front covers, each one is a different color and utilizes the Carhartt "C" logo in an interesting way. It reminds me of the start of the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz.
Each back cover has a different outdoor theme on it. Red has hunting, blue has fishing, and green has camping. This seems odd to me that something similar wasn't done to the L. L. Bean books, because providing clothing for these 3 things are what they have built their company on. This is not to say people don't wear Carhartt to hunt, fish, or camp in...but they bill themselves as tough clothing for workers.
The covers are 100# cover stock. This heavier weight along with the 60# paper they're now using in the kraft books make for a heavier book built to stand up to some outdoor beating. It remains to be seen if they hold up like the Shenandoah-level heavy books, but they are beefier than a kraft book in every way. Also, cheers to FN for changing the standard kraft books from 50# to 60# paper. Now if they would change the covers to 100# from 80#, we might have a durable pocket notebook.
No one is happier than I am to see an all-lined edition. I love line ruled paper in my pocket notebooks, so seeing that all three are lined was a great surprise. Seems to me that graph is king in the pocket notebook world, but I always gravitate towards lined books when I'm trying out a new brand. For the way I write and the way I like to use these, ruled rules.
I didn't do a pen or pencil test for this edition. It is the same 60# paper that is currently in the kraft books, so you should have an idea how your favorite writing tool performs.
A quick note about the shipping: I don't think Carhartt knew what it was getting into when they launched these books. Over at the Field Nuts FB group, a lot of people have been complaining about the way these are being shipped to them. Some coming in a plastic bag that clothes normally ship in, others coming in boxes way too big for the books with nothing to hold them in place. Essentially, people are worried about the corners being bent/beat up and using them for collecting and later trading. Carhartt's shipping methods aren't really conducive to that. There have been quite a few people in the group either get their money back or get new books as a result. Mine were shipped in the plastic bag. While I was not pleased with this method of shipping, the 3 packs I ordered were just fine. I had to really study each pack to see which one was the "worst" for opening and using. But I understand why people were upset: the shipping was very expensive for these books. It seemed different across the board for most people, but on an average about double what they'd expected. When I ordered mine, the shipping was going to be $7, regardless of quantity, unless I spent over $100, then shipping was free. I did not get sucked in there. Regardless, these shipped very fast and I was surprised I see them in the mail the same day I got the shipping notice. I basically received them less than 48 hours after I ordered them. I live 90 miles away from FNHQ and that's never happened with them! These books are only available in Carhartt retail shops or on their website.
Available at Carhartt.com. $12.95