The Neros

by Stuart Lennon

The Neros

Awards Season

Our year end is at the end of January, but this ‘limbo’ between the holidays is an ideal time to reflect on the year in notebooks.

For 2018, we’ll get organised, and have proper categories and a judging panel. We may even get some statues, based on the CEO, Nero the schnauzer.

For this year, we’ll get by with a few very personal choices, thrashed out by Clare and I over a coffee, and the winners will have to content themselves with a virtual ‘Nero’.

Best Planner

Neither Clare nor I used one in 2017. In our ‘stock’ line, we only had the undated 56 week Planner from Field Notes. We carry the Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal and the Rhodia Goalbook. We had customer requests for the Standard Memorandum by Word and Jon Contino. We were persuaded to dropship the Life Planner by Trigg. My interest was piqued enough to commit to one myself. It seems the Trigg has a wide appeal, surprising us with its popularity.

Winner. Trigg Life Mapper

Best Non-Paper

This year we have had a ‘dabble’ in some non-paper products. I adore my Off-Lines Desk block and Kaweco pens. Blackwing pencils are a joy to use. I only recently discovered the Schon Dsgn pens, which I am certain will have a permanent spot in my Every Day Carry. However, there is one brand that has been huge this year, and that is Nock Co. Customers pointed me at the website, Brad’s excellent blog, The Pen Addict, and his superb podcast of the same name. I tentatively ordered some pen cases, and have been buying more and more ever since. Great products, from a great company.

Winner. Nock Co.

Best Newcomer

In fairness, the newcomers are Clare and I, but you know what we mean; brands that have recently appeared on the scene. Papio Press, formerly of London, now of Cornwall, have beautifully illustrated covers. Back Pocket, Aussie Notebooks from London are excellent, with Space X a real favourite. I’m really looking forward to seeing more from Berlin Notebooks; their stock offering is really solid Kraft, with great environmental credentials as well as ink-friendly properties. Our winner though, has to be Darkstar Collection. High quality Welsh Notebooks. The collection evolves and changes, and we look forward to seeing what 2018 brings.

Winner. Darkstar Collection

Best Limited Edition

This category comes down to only a few manufacturers in the USA, most of whom offer subscription models. The summer release from Word was evocative. Who doesn’t like a bit of beach? DapperNotes was on form, top-end handmade single notebooks, each with its own distinct flavour. The two heavy weights in this category though are Write Notepads, the brash upstart from Baltimore, and Field Notes, the longtime champion, out of Chicago. Both brands have some diehard fans, and often equally diehard detractors. Binding types and paper quality being big dividers. I love Telegraph and Chesapeake from Write. Clever and well-executed. Fingerprints. Not my thing. Utility from Field Notes felt like something that looked better in the planning that it did in the reality. Campfire was fun, but the novelty passed for me. Resolution. Combining a date book with two task books was clever. They won’t quite fit my use though. For me, it comes down to Dime Novel from Field Notes and Goldfield by Write. I loved the story behind both editions. Dime came in a larger size and a two pack. I liked that shift. Goldfield has an undeniable aura about it. The use of gold, the special pencils. Cool. Very cool. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

Winner. Dead heat between Field Notes Dime Novel and Write Notepads Goldfield.

Unsung Heroes

This could be a very big category. There are so many brands that I think undersell. Fountain pen user? Look at Story Supply, Inky Fingers, Silvine and Clairefontaine. These are brilliant notebooks from both sides of the Atlantic. Looking for Notebooks that value function over form? Moleskine (oh be quiet FP users!) Leuchtturm1917, Public Supply and Whitelines will all get out of your way. For me, Clairefontaine offers exceptional value for money but just shading this category is Story Supply, largely because Vito is such a standup guy.

Winner. Story Supply

Think we have got it all wrong? Tell us in the comments.

Got any ideas for categories for next year?