The Book Factory is a company that makes quality custom notebooks for use in industrial settings. They specialize in numerous varieties of lab, engineering, and log books, which are, according to the website, used by 9 of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies (among other clients). The pages are section sewn (similar to the Moleskine) and the products are meant to take a beating.
They also happen to make a pretty nifty little black book.
Size-wise, this baby (known officially as the Pocket Blank Book Mini Journal) is about a half inch shorter and a quarter-inch skinnier than the standard Moleskine, and, believe it or not, this makes a big difference in terms of portability. In terms of thickness, each Notebook Factory journal contains 96 pages (standard Moleskine has 192), making it about half as skinny. Overall, you won’t think twice about throwing this in your pocket every time you go out.
The cover: For a back pocket notebook, this thing is a dream. The cover is imitation leather, with a special coating for durability in lab environments. No product names to be found anywhere. And best of all, it is very flexible. I’ve carried this around in my back pocket for a week and hardly noticed it was there.
Do not be misled: this isn’t anything like the oil-cloth cardboard cover on the Moleskine. It is smoother and a bit lighter than the cover on the Moleskine flexible 2007 planner. But it feels durable, and the fact that it’s resistant to chemicals is an added bonus!
The pages: The paper is acid-free, archival-safe white paper (actual white, as opposed to the creamy yellow colored Moleskine pages). The actual pages feel slightly thicker than Moleskine paper. The line spacing is ever-so-slightly wider than the Moleskine. However, each page comes with a three line header blank space at the top.
Personally, this is where I have an issue with the Blank Book. While a header is sometimes nice, I feel like it’s mostly just wasted space. Also, if you’re looking for elegance, the white paper is going to remind you you’re writing in a notebook, as opposed to a Moleskine. That said, the paper seems to be of slightly higher quality, and you have the option of blank pages or grid format.
The notebook itself: in terms of perks, this notebook is lacking. There’s no elastic band to hold it shut, nor is there a pocket in the back. The inner jacket has lines for identifying information and the first page is a cardboard “Notes” page.
However, Notebook Factory prides itself on customization. For an added fee, you can order each notebook with numbered pages, a personal imprint on each page, a gold foil heading on the cover, etc. In fact, if the order is large enough, I get the impression that they’ll make whatever you want. I haven’t been able to get in touch with Book Factory to ask if an elastic/bookmark/cover folder additions are possible, but will update this post when I do.
Overall impression: Each Pocket Blank Book is only $6.99, and for this little black book, the price is right. Don’t expect a Moleskine. This notebook feels much lighter, and frankly, more like a notebook than a “museum piece” (to quote Sepulveda’s feelings on the Moleskine). However, it definitely has pros in its portability, high quality paper, and durable-yet-flexible cover. In other words, not a Moleskine replacement – but definitely worth a try as an alternative.
The Book Factory offers loads of variations, so take a look around. Hard covers, soft covers, all different sizes, lined, grid format, blank pages, and so on.
Company Site: BookFactory.com
Where to buy: For the blank books, click here. There are many options – if you are looking for the black cover ruled notebook, be sure to choose “Mini Journal Black Cover Ruled Format” (er, perhaps that was obvious).