New Boy Monthly Report

by Stuart Lennon


Here we are. St David's Day. The first of March.

It's a month since Nero and I have been officially in charge at Pocket Notebooks. We are both exhausted. Happy, but exhausted.

The first priority was to get subscriber's boxes out and stock onto the shelves. We managed; learning along the way that allowing postal services to handle international shipping was akin to the 'hit and hope' approach in sport. We won't be doing that again.

The shelves are now replete with old favourites and some new brands too.

Papio Press, Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Silvine, Playtype and Kaweco pens have all debuted and we now have beautiful leather portfolios from Calepino. I intend to keep expanding the lines available, with names well-known and unknown. I hope that we can explore them together.

Learning Curve.

I have closed down the old subscription models. They were not sustainable in terms of economics or operations. For some subscribers, the new model is not the right fit and they have elected to opt out. Of course, I completely respect that, but it is anathema to me to see any customer go, and I will be working very hard to convince everyone of the excellent value of the new subscription.

Hobonichi and Midori / Traveler's Company. Wow. Followers of these brands really do follow them. To a lesser or greater extent, these companies operate a no-web policy. They do not wish to supply pure web businesses. I have to wonder whether managed scarcity contributes to their popularity.

For research, I have had to order a Techo from Japan, all UK stores being out of stock. It will probably sit in Customs for a fortnight. The cost of the item will have more than doubled by the time it gets here. Hmmm...

Now - there are, of course, ways and means of managing 'Vendor Requirements' and there are some sites that have done that very well. I will continue to look and learn.


The picture at the top of this report is of orders ready to go to the postbox. 

Both the COO and I look forward to the postbox run, rain or shine. I love packing the envelopes, putting on the stamps and posting them into the box. (For Nero, it's more about reading the 'p-mail' left by his mates on the route to the box.)

Several customers have blogged, tweeted or instagrammed pictures of their deliveries and said some very complimentary things. I cannot thank them and you enough. I really do appreciate you making the effort. Those posts are not only the most effective marketing there is for the business, but they genuinely bring a smile to my face. Thank you all.

Plans for March

I have placed orders with some new suppliers and with some old ones too. Tracking shows them all safe from the clutches of Customs and en route. I will also 'fill in' some of the bigger brands, where new releases have been issued, or certain variants have sold out. Right now we have 140+ products on site and I expect that to go beyond 200 by the end of the month.

If February was all about stock, March is all about the site. Largely because of my incompetence, the site looks a little scruffy. Photos don't always load correctly, the cart is a bit clunky and menus can be a little confusing. I have been conducting a compare and contrast exercise between several web developers / agencies and I believe that we now have a winner.

Changes will be subtle. I love the look and feel that Tony and Dan created, and I want to build on that rather than replace it. Along with that will come more work on social media, and more 'content' on the site and beyond...should be fun ;-)

Further plans

In addition to the amazing brands that we already carry, I would like to add some more, both for subscribers and 'passing trade'. I am working on some lines that will exclusive to us. With those - getting it right is more important than getting it quick. I'll keep you posted.

Good Lord, what a lengthy note! Well done if you have managed to get all the way to the end of it.

Let me finish by thanking all of you. For your orders, your support, your comments and your feedback. You are all awesome. 

All the best

Stuart & Nero.

PS...Forget the app, there's a pocket notebook for that...