Sunday, March 15, 2015

A bookish review of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Lately, along with a fair bit of travel, my focus has shifted towards acquiring various paraphernalia, genetically consistent with the core fountain pen ecosystem, while the pen themselves are in transit. Having used parker notebooks with the usual ivory coloured paper, for my travelogues; I was fascinated by the idea of a notebook  enclosed in a traditional manner within a leather jacket. To my limited knowledge and much elation, the Midori Traveler Notebook came out to be much more than that. I came in touch with the Midori brand, when I had got myself an aluminium multiple ruler. As per their website, Midori is a 65-year old Japanese company specializing in paper products and creative design stationery. You may also bump into MD Paper, while searching for quality paper products across Asia. 
From the perspective of paper, the company also makes stitched notebooks along with the flagship Traveler Notebook. And the core part of the notebook i.e paper manufacturing remains with Midori, Japan. Traveler Notebook comes in two different sizes – Passport & Regular across two standard colour variants – black & brown. (Additionally a blue - special edition is being released in April - 2015). The one being reviewed here is a regular sized traveler notebook.

 

PRESENTATION (6/6)


One of the enchanting parts of the notebook is the multi-tier packaging. Nothing expensive, but enticingly ‘differentiated’! A polyethylene plastic wrap, diaphanously enclosing a package wrapped in traditional brown paper, increases the excitement for unwrapping the gift. A note on the Traveler’s notebook in traditional Japanese paper, reveals a consistent purpose and description. It does reveal that the brown leather jacket is handmade in Chiangmai, Thailand, whereas the notebook is manufactured in Japan, thus referencing and embellishing quality.

At the backside of the package, rests some information regarding manufacture of the notebook and the leather jacket – from the countries of JAPAN and THAILAND respectively, along with product/bar codes and other compliance details in Japanese script. The brown package is fastened with a reddish-brown elastic band.

Opening the package, unveils a notebook enclosed in a white cotton bag. Additionally, one spare elastic band (orange) is provided in a poly-pack. You can also remove the reddish-brown elastic band from the outer enclosure.

I had also ordered a 64-page refill along with the notebook (Refill#001), which has a simple wrap with a coloured stamp conveying the details of it.

DESIGN (6/6)


A leather enclosure secured by a single brown elastic band going through a perforation at the back of it, expresses the sense and simplicity part of it. The cover is made from cowhide leather, with an elemental texture and it acquires grace with time. It’s supposed to scratch, acquire colour over time to transform into your signature companion.

The enclosure carries one single stitched notebook with blank pages (Refill#003). There is a series of two strings running across the notebook and the leather cover through multiple perforations on the it and those are anchored by a small tin clasp placed at the top-left end of the notebook system. The elastic band fastens the notebook while the rather loosely held non-elastic one is meant to be a bookmark. The only embossed mark on the leather jacket is at the botton-left side of the back cover, which states MIDORI & MADE IN THAILAND.
The design of the notebook is primarily based upon an Add-On model: base + spares like the Gillette razor-blade model. But again Sony too sells the PlayStation at a loss and makes up for the same with the entire gaming ecosystem.
So, the primary ecosystem for the traveler notebook consists of two categories of refills – notebook and accessory. Notebook refills come in 64 pages (both sides) across blank (003), lined (001), grid (002), monthly planner (005), lightweight paper (128 pages, 013) and kraft paper (014). Accessorizing your traveler with sticky notes (022) or film album (023) or a pen-holder (015/016) is pretty easy once you purchase the refills and they may be priced between $4 to $10. There are several other inserts that are available for the traveler from Midori. You can find a complete list here.

PERFORMANCE (6/6)


The enclosing elastic band can be replaced with another by pulling it out from the inside of the back-cover. 
Adding a notebook is easy, by using one of the spare elastic bands to connect the new notebook with the existing one, which needs securing the band around the spine of both these notebooks. I have covered the writing part of it in the last section.

UPDATE 2.0


Off late, I did add a blue Midori PAN AM pen holder refill, which can keep a pen or a pencil with diameter less than 1.2 cm. Though it’s meant to go with MTN’s blue special edition, I ordered it for my regular brown MTN. 


PHYSICS OF IT (4/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING


A very portable one, the dimensions (13 X 21 cm) match closely with the standard parker notebook. However, given the availability of pages (192 in parker) and an absence of a pen-holder, the parker does score some brownie points here. If you are looking for pure table-top writing experience, then parker can be more appealing, given its solid frame. The leather cover does offer a lot of flexibility when you are travelling and it’s meant for the traveller.


ECONOMIC VALUE (4/6)


The traveler notebook and a 64-page refill cost me around USD 35, with free shipping from Japan. While the price might still be low for a comparative analysis (with other shops), the economic value of the notebook does not do very well against the likes of competition - parker costs less than one-fourth of the same. Then again, you have to purchase refills typically costing anywhere between $4 to $10. That’s midori’s ecosystem for making money. The Add-On model!

OVERALL (5/6)


The design and vogue part of the traveler is exquisite. And yes, the MD paper is nice, thick and smooth for all your beloved fountain pens. Since, it was another Japanese product, I tested a Sailor Pro Gear Sigma Slim (Medium) with it. And it did run like a dream, laying quite a fine wet line. The thickness and texture of the MD paper makes even a relatively wet ink dry up pretty fast (sailor jentle ink dried within 6 seconds). However, that again comes with an little although unnoticeable bit of feathering, unlike the parker notebooks. However, there is no bleed-through for the MD paper.

It was fun reviewing the Midori Traveler's Notebook. Hope you enjoyed the review.
You can also find a review of Traveler's Notebook (Passport Size) here.

3 comments:

  1. HI Sonik. Can you share information regarding the seller? I have searched but still unable to find the notebook at the rate you mentioned and that too with free shipping.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Rahul,

    I think you can still find those at global.rakuten.com.
    I bought it from super-cool. I found one listed here too.
    (Not sure about free shipping etc, it should not cost more than 500)
    http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/kyotobunguya/item/10000749/

    HTH,
    Sonik

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Sonik. Could you review the Parker A5 notebook and share where that was purchased online? Thank you.

    David

    ReplyDelete