Do pens, notebooks or other accessories help inspire you to regularly write in your journal or diary? Or are you like me, do you have a stack of blank Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks on your desk that mock you when you look at them? I seem to start and stop the habit of writing. I definitely want to do it, I just can’t seem to keep going once I start. That doesn’t stop me from buying cool pens and notebooks though. I’ve had my eye on the Midori TRAVELER’s notebook ever since seeing them in Patrick NG’s photo stream on Flickr. So I finally bought one from Maido and here are my thoughts about it.
Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.
I’m a sucker for cool notebooks in the first place, so when you pair one with a leather cover, all restraint goes out the window. The Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s notebook is mainly sold in Japan, but is hand made in Thailand. The cover is very basic in construction and appearance as you can see above. There are no logos or other branding on the front. A simple brown elastic band holds the notebook closed.
Note: Other than the lighter camel color, I’m not sure how this 5th anniversary edition differs from the other TRAVELER notebooks that are available in darker Brown and Black.
On the back is a simple stamp in the bottom left corner.
Here you can see how the TRAVELER’s notebook compares to a large Moleksine (left) and a small Moleskine (right). The TRAVELER is approximately 4.75 x 8.75 inches.
When you open the cover, you notice the rough leather interior, which gives the notebook its rustic charm. Included with the cover is one notebook.
The notebook is held in place with an elastic band that is attached to the spine of the cover.
A tin clasp holds the elastic band in place.
The included notebook is made of Japanese paper, which has 64 off white pages that are about the same thickness as regular typing paper or Moleskine notebook pages. A thin thread bookmark is attached to the notebook.
I think the attraction of the Midori TRAVELER is the romantic look of it. It reminds you of something Indiana Jones might carry with him on his adventures. The more you use it, scratch it, scuff it (and you will very quickly…), the better it will look. Battle worn and all that… The other attraction is that you can embellish and customize it with some optional accessories.
You can purchase a set of colored elastic bands (your notebook comes with 1 extra Green band) and an extra tin clasp to give the notebook a bit more personality. The elastic bands that come with this kit are long enough to makes several cover bands and / or spine bands to hold the notebook in place.
You can also purchase additional notebooks that are lined, have grids, have thicker paper for drawing, calendars etc. Other customization options include pen holders, stickers, ink stamps, stick on pockets, charms and a kit with beads to decorate the elastic band and bookmark.
I switched out the Brown band with a Red one and I added a geared pewter charm from a necklace that Oberon had sent me. It looks cool right? But is a simple leather cover with a 65 page notebook worth almost $60 and has it inspired me to write journal entries more often? Nope and nope.
I know I could easily make my own TRAVELER’s notebook by ordering a piece of leather from Tandy Leather. All I would need to do is cut a square piece of leather and punch a couple of holes in it for the elastic bands that I can find at any fabric store like Joann’s. For the notebook, I could take a stack of regular typing paper, cut it down a bit, fold it in half, staple the center and there you go… I bet I could make one that looks the same (minus the stamp on the back) for about $20 give or take. Maybe a lot less.
Do I have buyer’s remorse that I ordered the Midori 5th Anniversary TRAVELER’s Notebook? Yes I do… I know it’s probably just going to sit there in the stack with my other untouched Moleskine and Rhodia notebooks. That said, there’s nothing actually wrong with this product. It’s not constructed badly and would make a perfectly fine notebook for anyone that wants to buy one. It’s just not worth that much in my opinion…
I think I’ve finally figured out why I can’t keep a journal for any length of time… It’s the fact that I can type 100x faster than I can write. When I do write, I tend to do so sloppily and since I am a bit of a perfectionist, it bugs me when I accidentally misspell a word and have to cross it out or write over it. Or if I do a drawing and make a mistake, that bugs me too. Everything is so permanent when you’re working with paper. That’s why I’m on a quest to find a journal / diary program for the iPhone or more likely the iPad. I plan to do an article about that quest soon. 🙂 In the mean time, what inspires you to keep up with your journal?
This notebook cover is still going strong over 11 years after I posted this review! Yes, it has scuffs and a botched attempt at “tattooing” it with a laser engraver (upper left corner), but I still love it! That’s what’s great about the Travelers Notebook system. It is designed to collect battle scars that give it character and embed memories right into the leather.