Bomo Art makes some of my favorite leather bound journals and when I had the opportunity to visit their shop earlier this year in Budapest I decided to try one of their diaries/planners.
I struggle to use a diary consistently. Every year I tell myself I am going to use one to stay organized and if I am lucky, I keep it up for a few months but eventually it falls by the wayside. With this in mind I went for an A5 size half leather bound version with a weekly format.
They come in six sizes with a full or half leather binding. There are three layouts, I chose the vertical weekly layout.
You also get to chose from eight leather options, I chose dark brown, and there are numerous papers for the cover of half leather binding dairy. I chose an antique map paper.
My dairy cost about $15 USD which is a pretty reasonable price for a book of this quality.
The diaries are made by hand in Budapest with the diary contents by Diarpell of Italy.
The paper is thin but holds up very well to fountain pen ink. With such a thin page you do get some ghosting but nothing that would prevent me from writing on both sides.
The paper is ultra smooth with almost no feedback.
This diary layout was designed in 2000 and as such, it still has an address/phone number section. Apart from the address book this diary has no extras. There are no blank pages for notes nor pockets for loose papers.
The stitched binding is pretty nice. The signatures are not as small as you might find on some Japanese notebooks but the binding lays pretty flat so I have no complaints.
At the end of the day the Bomo Art is not a feature-rich diary but it’s beautiful looks and high-quality feel make up for it’s simplicity.
In writing this I realize I have yet to review any of their wonderful journals. It’s now on my to-be-reviewed list so stay tuned… they are beautiful.
I found out about this product back in December while listening to the Pen Addict podcast (thank you Myke Hurley).
If you don’t speak German, Roterfaden is the manufacturer and Taschenbegleiter is German for, “bag companion”. This is without doubt the coolest organizer I have ever had the pleasure of owning.
The Taschenbegleiter is a custom made-to-order organizer that utilizes a unique clip system that allows you to clip in all sorts of notebooks and loose paper.
The Taschenbegleiter comes in three standardized formats: A4, A5, and A6. For the outer cover you have two material choices (in multiple colors): dance floor and leather. Dance floor is a synthetic material that was originally used for (you guessed it) dance floors. I opted for the black leather option.
The black leather has a suede-like finish that is very soft to the touch. The Taschenbegleiter has a wonderful organic hand-made quality to it. Depending on the colors and options you choose it can be more casual look or more professional looking.
For the inside material you again get two options for materials, suede and wool felt. I chose the blue wool felt and I also chose to have my name embroidered into the felt in a light blue thread and Interstate font. You can actually send them a picture and they will embroider it on the organizer!
There are various pocket configurations that include an option designed specifically for an iPad mini. Instead of pockets on the back cover you get 4 elastics that hold the iPad Minis corners. I chose the large pocket (which also fits an iPad) because it serves a dual purpose as a pocket for smaller notebooks like Field Notes and work as an iPad holder when I travel. The downside of course is that you have to pull out the iPad every time you want to use it.
There are more options still. You can have all the pen loops you want. You can have them on the bottom the top or the side (as I have on mine). If you like to use really fat pens you can specify the size of the pen you want to use and they will make the loops bigger.
You can also specify the number clips. The standard is three but you can have none, one, two or four if you request it. This is an important consideration because it will determine how much stuff you can put in your Tachenbegleiter and how fat it will be. Mine is about 1.5″ wide with the three clips in use…but you can make it even fatter if you really stuff it.
Roterfaden makes various refills and inserts for the Tachenbegleiter. They all look beautiful and are of excellent quality. Let me show you how I normally have mine loaded up:
Here are some more pictures of the unusual diary refill which has a stave on one side and a dot grid on the other.
I love the red stitching in particular. The different booklets have different papers. The calendar has 70g paper that does show some bleed through with fountain pens. The 80g paper in the diary booklet holds up well to fountain pen ink. If you write with a fat juicy nib you might get some light bleeding but nothing serious.
I have not yet had the chance to sample the 120g drawing paper booklets. Most of the larger booklets have an optional cardboard cover and while they are not necessary they are nice to have as the booklets are otherwise protected by paper only.
Because the Taschenbegleiter comes in standard A series sizes you can put pretty much any A5 notebook in the organizer. I have also been able to put a standard Field Notes in one of the clips (top or bottom only). The new larger Field Notes Arts and Sciences notebooks work beautifully.
I have been using mine everyday for the last five months and there are some downsides. The main one being that it’s a pretty big organizer and its weight wont go unnoticed in you bag. For personal travel I tend to take my smaller Midori Travelers Notebook with me (maybe I need to get an A6 Taschenbegleiter).
The other downside is the price. It’s expensive, especially if you start adding options like a leather cover and embroidery. The basic A5 size runs 89€ or $120 USD (this includes VAT which is not applicable outside of Europe). With options mine came to $182 USD but with VAT removed (because I live in the USA) the organizer cost about $150 USD.
While expensive, I do believe you will have a hard time finding a better quality organizer for double or even triple the price. I have looked and I haven’t found anything close. The Taschenbegleiter is completely hand-made in Germany.
I love my Taschenbegleiter. It is a wonderful product and I recommend it to anyone in the market for a high-quality and highly adaptable organizer.
While I know we are already in 2014, it is not too late to buy a 2014 diary. The Standard Memorandum Notebook produced by Word. Notebooks is a bit of a curiosity. Designed by illustrator, Jon Contino, to resemble pocket journals form the early 1900’s, The Standard Memorandum Notebook only gives you a few lines per day. When I received the notebook in the mail I was surprised by how tiny it is; at 2.35″ wide x 5.25″ long it will easily fit into your pocket.
The black cover features gold lettering with an interesting Jon Contino drawn script that reads “THE STANDARD MEMORANDUM 2014”. The rest of the notebook features Columbia Titling typeface.
The notebook contains 64 pages and is bound with two staples. This notebook does not lie flat nor does it close well. Because the pages are skinny there is not enough weight to close the book so it stays open at a 45 degree angle in the middle of the book. Each page contains 7 days, such that you get 14 days on a 2 page spread.
The paper is smooth but not fountain pen friendly. I found a good amount of bleed and feathering with fountain pen ink.
I have been using the notebook for a week now and at the end of each day I write down the day’s highlights. Trying to get your whole day into 3 or 4 lines is surprising fun; it forces you to cut out the unimportant details. While I still use a regular full size journal, I am finding that the The Standard Memorandum is easier to keep up with every day and in that sense it’s pretty valuable.
The Standard Memorandum Notebook can be purchased for $11.00 here.
You can also purchase a leather cover for $45 which can be monogrammed.
Please note: this product was provided to me at no charge by Word. Notebooks for review purposes.
Here are some great reviews of the The Standard Memorandum Notebook:
Having abandoned my Cartier diary (as the refills have increased an unbelievable 60% in price) I began searching for a replacement and stumbled upon a thread on The Fountain Pen Network discussing diaries for 2014. The one that seemed to peak everyone’s interest was the Hobonichi Planner featuring Tomoe River paper. To my knowledge, 2014 is the first year that this planner has been released in English. After doing more research and learning about the awesome layout I knew I had to have one.
The appearance of the planner is simple and elegant. The cover is a thin flexible black leatherette with “Techo” (in Japanese) and three keys printed in silver. Printed on the spine in silver is “HOBO” and “2014”. I like the look of the black leatherette cover so much that I am tempted to use it without a case. The planner measures 105mm wide x 149mm high x 14mm thick (that’s approximately 4.13″ wide x 5.87″ high x o.55″ thick). Pictured below is the spine with the book open. Tomoe River paper is so thin that you can fit 464 pages + the cover into a 14mm dimension. The planner lays flat thanks to its excellent construction.
The layout of the planner is quite nice. You get a full page per day with 4mm grids. Each page shows the current moon phase and every two page spread features a quote. Most of the quotes are from Japanese cultural figures.
For Sunday the print on the page is orange instead of the normal black/grey. In the back of the planner there are several pages of blank orange dot grid followed by some reference pages (clothing sizes, international holidays and country codes) as well as informational pages like a sushi guide and a sake guide. One thing that I would like to see in the Hobonichi is a color map of the world.
The paper, as I have show in my review of a Tomoe River notebook , is simply amazing. It holds fountain pen ink as well or better than any other paper I can think of. It’s hard not to love this planner. The Hobonichi planner is reasonably priced at 2,500 Yen (approx $24 USD) before shipping and handling.
Naoko at Hobonichi Planner was kind enough to send me this planner free of charge for me to review. Along with the planner she included a cover, a couple of stencils and a set of page flags. The design of the cover to be honest, is not my cup of tea. The polyester cover was designed by the children’s book illustrator Ryoji Arai. The front features a bright red donkey against a sky blue cover and the spine and back cover has some doodles and pictures. It’s a very interesting composition. The inside of the cover is bright pink and has two neon green page makers with pink tips (one is a rectangle and the other is a triangle).
There is a pocket on the outside of the back cover which I have found to be handy for slipping in receipts as well as a Field Notes journal. There are two large pen loops, one attached to the front of the cover and one attached to the back so that you can slip a pen into both loops to keep the notebook shut. I was able to easily slide my Montblanc 149 into the loops which is good news if you like to use oversized pens.
On the inside of the front cover there are 5 card slots that fit the Hobonichi stencils perfectly. There is an additional pocket behind the card slots.
On the inside of the back cover there is a black tag that says “Hobonichi 2014” as well as two small pockets.
The retail price of this cover is 1,900 Yen (approx $18 USD). This same cover in a plain solid color is 1,500 Yen (approx $14.50 USD) and in leather is 8,500 Yen (approx $81.50 USD). The are several other cover designs that cost as much as 31,500 Yen (approx $302 USD). The polyester cover is reasonably priced and and provides a lot of functionality.
The Hobonichi planner and covers can be purchased in English directly from Hobonichi here.
Please note: (as mentioned above) this product was provided to me at no charge by Hobonichi for review purposes.
Here are some great reviews of the Hobonichi Planner:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)