Follow the spring 2014 Shelterwood limited edition, the Cherry Wood Field Notes brings woodgrain back into regular rotation. For now it is a regular edition, but non-kraft regular editions have been known to disappear in the past so I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any announcements of this edition being discontinued so that I can stock up.
This notebook is the standard “pocket size,” aka 3.5” by 5.5”, which happens to be my preferred size for a pocket notebook versus a passport size (which is just as wide but slightly shorter) or an A6 (which is slightly larger is both directions). Still small enough to fit even in the tiny pockets on women's jeans while maximizing writing space within that constraint. That said, these would not be my favorite notebooks to draft a novel in, but for carry-around-beat-em-up books they are ideal.
Field Notes uses a three staple saddle-stitch method to bind their books and this one is no exception. It’s certainly not the most robust method ever, but it works. If you are carrying these notebooks naked in your pocket for any extended length of time, it’s quite likely that at least one of the staples will lose its hold on the cover before you run out of blank pages, but my notebooks tend to be chauffeured around in a case of some sort and they have all survived just fine.
Something extra special about the staples in this edition is that they are gold colored instead of the standard silver, and with the woodgrain cover they really make this feel like a luxury item rather than a stock edition.
One thing I really like about most Field Notes books is that they use bright white paper. Sure, cream and soft white paper have their place, but I don’t like having the color of my writing muddled by the color of the paper and I have rejected many notebooks in the past for not having the right color of paper (Rhodia Webbie, I’m looking at you).
The grid in these notebooks is printed in a light brown, which they identify as “Double Knee Duck Canvas” in color. I don’t know what that means, but it ties together well with the overall color scheme and walks the fine line between being dark enough to be useful while not being so dark as to be obtrusive. Also, the 3/16” spacing works perfectly for my handwriting, especially in a pocket notebook where I’m not using fountain pens primarily.
The reason that I don’t use fountain pens much in this (and most Field Notes editions) is because the paper is not the most friendly to liquid inks. Pens don’t feather much but they do bleed, even finer nibs, and I am too much of a tree-hugger to only use one side of each sheet. I don’t mind that I am “forced” to use other quality pens like the Pilot Juice in here because then I don’t have to worry about dry times or waterproof-y-ness either.
Let’s be honest, the cover is really what makes this a special notebook. And the cover is definitely something really special. As far as I understand, it is made using the same process as the Shelterwood, where a super thin layer of real wood is glued to kraft paper and then viola, you have a wood grain cover! Because of the natural origin of the wood veneer, no two covers will be identical and I really enjoy that aspect. There is also a slight roughness to the covers, though it’s not like you will get splinters for from it. But if you are a person who prefers a smooth notebook cover, this might not be for you. They also have a tendency to curl outward, which means that for my use the notebooks don’t lay super flat, though I suspect that back pocket use could help to alleviate this.
Compared to the Shelterwoods cover (made out of cherry as well), I find these covers to be lighter in color and far more aesthetically pleasing, at least to me. The first picture below is the Shelterwood and the second is the Cherry Graph:
I don’t have any Shelterwood notebooks to hold side-by-side with the Cherry Graph, so it could just be my poor memory playing tricks on me. The scans look pretty similar, but it seems that I am not the only one who notices a color difference between the two. Also, I think that they are lighter and more complex in real life than what the scans of the covers can do, so take the pictures with a grain of salt. Another difference between the two editions is that the Shelterwood had white printing on the cover, while the Cherry Graph has the standard black. I am relatively indifferent either way, as both colors look great on the woodgrain.
I luuuuurrrrve these notebooks. As long as they are a regular edition I plan to have one in active rotation and even after they are retired I will probably have stocked up on so many that I’ll be using them for years to come. They give that special edition feel with the availability and price (3/$10) of a stock edition, and I think that is a combination that can’t be beat.