A few weeks ago I was contacted by Phoebe at Book Block, a maker of custom notebooks based out of the U.K. Book Block ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last year to fund their "Bookblock Original" brand, which they bill as "The World's First Truly Custom Notebook." Here's how they describe the Bookblock Original concept:
Book Block will print a design of your choice onto a Moleskine-style notebook, which you can customize with your choice of ribbon, paper, etc. The printed cover is good quality--they print at 2400 dpi, and the result is much better than other "customized" Moleskine-style notebooks I've received at conferences, for work, etc. They also offer custom debossed leather covers, an option that I would be interested in checking out in the future. I can see how this could be a lot of fun--if not addictive--if you were a designer or artist with some very detailed, intricate designs that you want printed on a notebook. I stuck with my blog logo for my test notebook. Not the most original, but it came out well. These high-quality, professional images were provided by Book Block, along with my notebook. I've also included some shots of other custom notebooks they have done, to give you a sense of what's possible.
A Mini-Review of the Monsieur Notebook
The notebook I received is a customized Monsieur notebook, a brand that was heavily promoted a few years ago as a Moleskine-style notebook with a leather cover (either real leather or vegan leather). The notebook itself is very nice and sturdy, and lays flat. The paper in my notebook is the 80 or 90 gsm plain paper, which is better than Moleskine paper but still has a lot of bleed and show-through with fountain pen and rollerball inks. I wouldn't consider it unusable by any means, but this particular book will probably see more use with ballpoints, gel, and pencils. If you decide to place an order with Book Block, and you write primarily with fountain pens, I would recommend that you upgrade to the 100 gsm "Fountain White" paper. Also, YMMV with Monsieur's ruled or dot-grid paper, instead of the blank. Ana over at The Well-Appointed Desk had a good experience with Monsieur's stock 90 gsm ruled paper, which also comes in a dot grid format. Monsieur Notebooks are more easily found in the U.K. than in the U.S., but you can order them through Amazon, with prices ranging from $15-25 depending on size and paper choice.
I'm very happy with my custom notebook, and once I burn through some of my notebook backlog, I'm considering ordering a few more in different cover designs (with the "fountain" paper). I will be interested to see how well the cover on the notebook holds up. The soft-cover feels very nice in the hand, but it does pick up finger marks and the spine creases fairly easily. That's likely due to the soft texture and the fact that I chose solid black, but I did want to mention it because people can be very particular about that sort of thing.
A big thank you to Phoebe and her team over at Book Block, who worked with me on this notebook!
DISCLAIMER: Book Block provided me with a single notebook, free of charge, for review purposes. My thoughts here are my own. This post contains some affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase something from certain sites linked to in this article. While I'd greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase an item you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!