There are so many new notebooks being released right now, that I've had a hard time keeping my head above water! Here are my thoughts on two new offerings that you've probably read a lot about recently: Studio Neat's "panoramic" Panobook, and the latest Baron Fig Confidant, Raspberry Honey.
Studio Neat Panobook
Studio Neat's new "Panobook" is billed as "a new notebook for your desk." Essentially, they've designed a desk pad like the Baron Fig Mastermind in spiral-bound notebook form. The Panobook is designed to sit just above, below, or even to the side of your keyboard, where by using it lengthwise it can serve as an oversized reporter's notebook or miniature legal pad.
Measuring 6.3 inches by 11.34 inches, the Panobook provides ample space for writing, notetaking, brainstorming and sketching out ideas - exactly what most people look for in a large-format desk pad. The dot-grid paper includes subtle "guide markers" to allow you to easily draw rectangles, which may come in handy if you're an app or web designer or someone who uses storyboards. The double-wired spiral binding appears sturdy and tight, and the cover is a soft-touch leatherette material that feels similar to the cover on the Ghost Paper notebook that I reviewed a while back, though the Panobook cover is rigid and not flexible.
Now, a note on the paper, which is where I ran into, well, not difficulties, but some hiccups that led me to conclude that I probably couldn't use this notebook on a daily basis. The Panobook features Finch Soft White Ultra Smooth 70 lb. text paper, which Studio Neat describes as "super high quality, and perform[ing] well with a variety of writing instruments without smudging and bleeding." This is indeed very nice paper, and I enjoyed the dot grid layout, but I found that the paper was not quite versatile enough to meet my needs. I experienced a fair bit of feathering and pinpoint bleeding with even fine and medium fountain pens. Certain drier inks performed ok (i.e., with minimal bleed) but when it comes to the paper that I use for most of my daily planning and brainstorming - which is what this notebook would be perfect for - I'd prefer to be able to just use my fountain pens and not have to think about how the pen I'm using at the moment is going to perform in the notebook. At this price point, I also want to be able to use both sides of the page.
Overall, the Panobook is a great concept and a well-designed notebook, and with slightly heavier paper might be something that makes its way into my daily arsenal. As the product currently stands, however, there are other desk pads out there that meet my specific - and, admittedly, very exacting - requirements. If you're a fan of gel pens, ballpoints, pencil, or even rollerballs like the Uniball Vision Elite, you'll be fine. Otherwise, I'd back for a single notebook to test out before I stocked up. (The folks at Studio Neat are experienced Kickstarter creators, and their products are typically available on their website fairly soon after the Kickstarter project closes.)
Baron Fig Raspberry Honey
"Raspberry Honey" is the latest in the line of limited edition Confidant notebooks from Baron Fig, which in my opinion, just keep getting better. A collaboration with California-based artist Geoff Gouveia, Raspberry Honey is "one part short story, one part notebook," and each box includes a copy of a short story written and illustrated by Gouveia.
The notebook itself features a bright "raspberry" red cover with debossed bees, a pink ribbon, and Baron Fig's excellent dot grid paper. I've reviewed several Baron Fig notebooks in the past, so I won't go into extensive detail on construction, paper quality, etc., but I will say that in the past year or so Baron Fig has improved the paper used in their notebooks. While it may not be the best for especially wet stubs or triple-broad nibs, it's excellent with the medium and fine fountain pens that I use as my daily writers and handles everything I'll throw at it fairly well.
Where You Can Buy These Notebooks
The Studio Neat Panobook is available on Kickstarter, and will close in 9 days. Based on the funding level so far (well over $100,000 pledged on a $20,000 goal), the Panobook will almost certainly fund. If you think this is a product you would use, the best deal is the three-pack for $55, which brings the cost to roughly $18 apiece, in-line with other high-quality bound notebooks. Single books are $20.
The Baron Fig Raspberry Honey is available directly from Baron Fig, priced at $20 with discounts for purchasing more than one. Baron Fig has ended their limited edition subscription program, so you will have to purchase these a la carte.
Disclaimer: I was sent both of these products at no charge for purposes of this review. Thank you to both Studio Neat and Baron Fig for sending these over. This post contains affiliate links.