I do have a stationary fetish. I buy a large number of notebooks every year. In fact I buy at least 2 100 pages notebooks a month. I also take a hell lot of notes. I tend to record almost every event of significance throughout the day on my notebooks.
While in IIT I followed a “one notebook to rule them all” principle where I used a single notebook for every purpose. Initially I followed Watts Humphrey’s PSP. It turned out to be an efficient method provided you actually spent couple of hours every week on organizing stuff in your notebook. With time I kind of abandoned that method since my work load had reduced while the variety of my increased. I hope to return back to a modified version of PSP some day.
These days I have been following a different approach. I have multiple notes. One for office work, one which I carry when I go out including trekking and shopping and one for personal work. Of course one notebook for the novel I have been writing. As a result my consumption of paper has increased.
While in India I liked the notebook brand called “Matrix” at Rs 90 for a 200 pages notebook it as expensive but it had relatively good quality paper. I always liked to by Moleskin notebooks but they were priced at around Rs 800 for an ordinary 100 pages notebook.
Matrix notebooks had 5 clear partitions, one elastic pocket. This was helpful as a student when I move from one class to another. The cover was plastic and it was easier to stick it into a bicycle bracket. With time I shifted to Paper-craft notebooks. Papercraft had a much superior quality paper but it’s covers were of hard-paper making it susceptible to weather.
Once I had 15 notebooks to be archived. When I picked my old notebooks I realized that the ink was fading. It was probably at that time I realized that I need to focus on the right kind of pen.
From high-school onwards I was using the famous Cell Gripper pen. Priced merely at Rs 9 I could buy as many and could afford to lose one every week. I especially liked the black color ink. The problem with Gripper was that, when you first put it on paper it use to leave a fat ink drop. Later however it used to write in a flawless 0.5mm mode. Compared to all other pens, this was one pen I used for long only to realize it was a bad choice. It suffered from another problem. The rubber grip actually did nothing to improve you grip on the pen. With time the rubber use to become loose and it use to affect your grip. If you wrote for more than an hour, it was certain that you would get a sore thumb.
Another Cell pen I used for a long time was “Techno-Tip”. Which interestingly outperformed Gripper in all departments. It’s availability was an issue and secondly, it made a little noise while writing on the paper.
I did spend good amount of time researching about better pens. Eventually I found out that a certain American brand named “Zebra” manufactured some really good pens. So my search began. I spend at least couple of months searching for this pen in and around Mumbai and Pune. I eventually found these pens in Landmark Pune. They were Priced at Rs 55 and I purchased 4. I still own all the four pens and event after 3 years they continue to write. They were extremely comfortable and wrote without any flaw.
I learned later that those pens are called roller-ball pens and use a different technology to store and dispense ink. They are kinda a hybrid between gel and bollpen.
After coming to United States I was pretty much surprised that this country which otherwise has abundance of everything lacked in variety and taste when it comes to pens. Zebra pens seem to have become extinct and even specialty stores do not keep any pens other than BIC and Uni-Ball. Uni-ball Vision seems to be the most popular pen it clearly bloats the paper. However it was for the first time I saw pens in 0.2mm range. So far I have only used 0.5mm or 0.6mm pens.
The price of a standard 200 page notebook does not exceed $3 in united states but if you want to buy a Moleskin it costs you around $20. I have a pretty impressive collection of Moleskin and my opinion is a bit mixed about moleskin. Moleskins are very tough notebooks.
There is one version where you get a set of 3 notebooks 80 pages each. This is very good version if you use notebooks for quick note taking, outdoor activities, or rough work in office. These notebooks will survive almost all harshness of weather and other items in you bag-pack without bending any corners to losing any pages.
But if you need a notebooks for more serious work such as taking notes. You should buy the ruled Moleskin which cots around $18.5. Always got for the hard bound version.
The plain blank version of the same notebook is however horrible. It spreads the ink unusually and I also suspect that it has a poor archival quality. Also when you write on one side you can see the impressions on the other side of the paper.
I hope that my Zebra pens will last for a while, because while in US I am still to find a good alternative to them. Moleskin however seems to have replaced my choice of notebooks so far.
In the complex exercise of note taking another important asset is the stickers. I always keep a number of them in my moleskin pocket and use them to stick important things within the notebook pages. It makes it super easy to find that page later on.