The folks at Paper-Oh and I have recently crossed paths, and they were kind enough to send over a couple of their notebooks for review. Each of Paper-Oh’s designs come in various styles and sizes, and you can even choose whether you want your journal to be lined or unlined. The best part? While I knew the notebooks were coming, I had no idea what style, color, or design they would each have—and I was pleased when I finally got them.
I was sent the Circulo (red and black) and the Puro (plum)—two journals whose only commonality was their size. The two of them are so different that it would be unfair to pick a favorite. I find myself alternating between both of them depending on my mood and depending on what I want to do. The Circulo I received was unlined, making it my go-to for doodling and writing when I don’t feel like being confined to a certain space. The Puro was lined, and thus I ended up using it for to-do lists, poetry, and my occasional ramblings. (Note: the Puro has a tasteful embellishment on the cover whereas the Circulo’s red cover was created with a mechanized hole-punch and overlaid onto black.)
And while both of the designs are unique to the journals, there’s something even more unique about the Paper-Oh brand: included with each journal is a versatile bookmark that comes with directions showing how the bookmark can be used in two different styles. Since I had two journals, I decided to try each of the style options. For the Puro, I chose to stick it onto the back of the side and have it fold into the pages. This works well for this notebook 1. because of the style and 2. because the color of the bookmark flawlessly matches the color of the journal.
It was hard to use the bookmark that way for the Circulo, being that it has the magnetic flap that closes on the front cover and the bookmark is a plain red. I did, however, use the provided bookmark as a regular bookmark. Not only does it hold up well, but it works perfectly for the Circulo’s style and still manages to fit in with the look and feel of this journal.
I have to give praise for the binding, too. Paper-Oh seems to have managed to do something that I’ve seen a lot of other notebooks attempt to do: paper with a stitched binding and a cover that lays flat, no matter what page you open to, and never pops off the bottom of the table. Something I find frustrating about many notebooks is that the corner laying against the edge of the table will push the rest of the notebook up, leaving my arm at an awkward angle to write with. But that doesn’t happen with the Paper-Oh notebooks.
Come to find out, after a brief discussion with Wade over at Paper-Oh, Nadine Werner was key and responsible for Paper-Oh’s lay-flat binding, ensuring that all the components (binding, scoring, covers) worked together to allow the binding to lay flat against a surface. It seemed most important with designs like the Circulo (pictured) and the Quadro (which can be seen on Paper-Oh’s website); the binding and scoring had to work, but the pattern also had to stay consistent. I must say, they did a fantastic job—and that’s coming from both an appearance perspective and a functionality perspective.
Speaking specifically to the Puro, I love the inclusion of the pocket in the back. It reminds me vaguely of the pocket in the Moleskine. While it seems like the pocket would fit well in the Circulo, since there’s the extra security of the magnetic flap and less risk of things falling out, Paper-Oh’s intentions were to keep each design unique and they achieved that very well.
I love the quality of the paper, too. I’m a sucker for good stationary, and the paper in the journals is smooth and easy to write on. Why? Because it’s double-pressed, ensuring that it’s as smooth as it can possibly be. Unfortunately, my journal collection has largely outgrown my pen collection and I don’t feel that I have enough of a variety to test the paper in these journals with different types of pens. That being said, I have spent a couple weeks testing the limits of these journals—various script, doodling, etc.—and the pages have held up pretty well.
My only concern, despite the paper’s feel and durability, is that it’s easy to see through to the ink that’s on the other side. This isn’t as big an issue as it could be—I haven’t had anything bleed through yet—but not everyone likes to see one side of the paper from the opposite side. I know many who prefer to have no show, but I also know many (myself included) who don’t really care as long as it doesn’t bleed profusely through the pages. And so far, nothing has bled anywhere in the Paper-Oh notebooks.
All in all, I’m highly satisfied with both of them and have already considered tracking down more to buy. Both of these will definitely get used up, so I’ll have to get more somehow. Unfortunately, they aren’t available for purchase on the Paper-Oh website, so I suppose I’ll have to make a trip to visit a friend in the City just to buy more.