A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Monday, September 3, 2012

Booker-Palooza 2012 Review and Giveaway #1: Levenger Wired Notebook-White Full Page Ruled (Closed to new entries)

Welcome, everyone, to the inaugural post of Booker-Palooza 2012!

Today's giveaway is the Levenger Wired Notebook-White Full Page Ruled. Usually, I link the name of the product to someplace you can buy it, but I don't see this product on the Levenger website anymore. I don't know if that situation is temporary or not, but I'm surprised to see it gone. I've been buying these for a while and usually saw them whenever I was just browsing and drooling the Levenger website. (While I'm mentioning the Levenger website, I should mention that the Labor Day Sale they have going is fantastic, and it goes through September 5. And, full disclosure: Levenger has provided products me free products (but not this one) to review.)

Anyway, on to the review.

The Review

I've had one of these notebooks opened on my desk at work for probably eight months out of the last year, using them mostly to keep my timesheets, but also using them occasionally to take research notes or to make notes for upcoming oral arguments. While it has its faults, I like it well enough to have bought seven of them when they were on sale.

It sits open at my right hand, so I can immediately jot down the tasks and time spent on my client matters, making for very accurate time reporting and detailed, accurate bills for my clients. There's nothing about the notebook itself that really improves my timekeeping, exactly, unless you count the fact that I enjoy writing in it so much. Maybe, on some subliminal level, that makes me more likely to record my time promptly. good not only for my clients, but for me, too, as billable time does not escape billing.

The reason I like writing in it is the feel of the paper. I love, love, love, heavyweight paper. Not so much for the writing, but for the handling. Once these sheets are removed from the notebook, they are a joy to shuffle, sort, or arrange. Since the paper is white, the weight of the paper (and slightly narrow dimension, as discussed below) helps my pages of handwritten notes stand out in a stack of other white papers.

The writing experience is quite nice, too. Most pens, except those with tips of less than 5 mm, tend to write very smoothly.

Levenger claims the paper is fountain pen friendly, and that was my initial impression of the paper. In my post last December year about the great variance in paper quality among various Levenger products, I wrote about this particular notebook:
This one is a standout. The white paper has great weight, smooth feel, great performance. No bleed through even with heavily saturated inks delivered through juicy nibs. This is awesome paper.
Unfortunately, that initial impression has not held up. I use a different pen and ink color virtually every day on my timesheets, sometimes with a few changes during the course of the day, so I've tried lots of different combinations on this paper. It's definitely hit-or-miss when it comes to handling fountain pen ink, at least with respect to how usable the opposite side of the papers is going to be. There's very little or even no feathering with most inks, but show through and bleed through vary significantly and are very unpredictable.  Some saturated inks barely show through and make it easy to write on both sides of the paper, while some less saturated inks through the same pen bleed through like crazy. The particular notebook I chose to test for this post seems especially susceptible to bleeding.
I've really got to learn how to take a properly exposed photograph. Sorry about that.
You also need to choose your other pens carefully. The Bic permanent marker (felt tip) I tried bled through. (I did not have a sharpie to try out.) Surprisingly, the brown Platinum Preppy (at the very bottom in the photo), despite being one of the broadest and wettest lines, showed through very little compared to the Bic. Finer gel pens did best, but finer points tend to stick a little on this paper and take away the smoothness. Some rollerballs do better than others, even with the same color ink.

None of this particularly bothers me, because I'm not worried about writing on both sides. But if you are, I suggest keeping a few pages at the back of the notebook as test pages to try out pen and ink combinations before using them elsewhere in the notebook.

I prefer the full width ruling on this paper to the annotation ruling found in so many Levenger products. This is especially helpful for my timekeeping, where I don't need to "call out" notes to the margin. Ruling across the entire page gives me plenty of real estate to track my time and to tally it up at the end of the day.

This is billed as a letter-sized (8.5 in. x 11 in.) notebook, but keep in mind that is the dimension of the paper before removing it from the notebook. Once torn out, the paper is a little narrower, approximating the width of an A4 sheet. It's just enough to be another aid in finding one's notes among other white papers in a stack, but not so much to make it difficult to include in a file of letter sized paper. Putting notes in the file is also made easier by the fact that the pages are perforated, so the raggedy edges created from tearing a page out from the binding is easily removed.

While a great desktop companion, this notebook is not very portable. Few letter-sized notebooks are, but this one has a couple of other factors working against portability.

First, this paper is so substantial that the 85 pages make the notebook nearly a half inch thick. That's fine if you carry a full size briefcase. But it can be a bit of a space hog when space counts, such as in a laptop bag or in my Levenger Briefolio, which is all I tend to carry (besides my planner) back and forth to work.

Second, it's not especially durable. I carried one back and forth to work every day (besides the space it took up in briefolio) for about 4 months. It didn't fall apart, but the covers, which are not especially stiff, got beat up a bit. And the wire for the twin ring binding is not especially strong; it eventually started to bend and separate,  so about a third of the back cover started slipping off the wire. That second problem is likely to be even worse if you remove pages as you go, because I think the rings are more vulnerable without a full notebook attached. (One indication regarding the lack of strength in the wire is that several notebooks arrive from Levenger with the end wires bent.)

If this notebook is gone for good, that's a real shame. I much prefer it to the wired notebook with multi-colored paper and annotation ruling, both because I prefer the full page ruling and because the colored paper and fountain pen ink don't really seem to get along, and it doesn't even feel good to write on the colored paper.

For all its faults —principally, the inconsistency of the paper when it comes to different inks, and the features making it unsuitable for portability — I still really like this notebook, at least to keep on my desktop. Enough to have ordered seven of them when they were on sale for $8 (they were normally $12).

The Giveaway

Entries are now closed. The following procedures will no longer work.

If you'd like one, here's how to enter the giveaway. Make sure you read through ALL these instructions, to make sure you are entered and possibly double your chance at winning, before you actually carry out any of the steps.

Send an email to me at notebookeresqATgmail.com, with the following word, and ONLY the following word, in the subject line:

Lower case or upper case doesn't matter, as long as your email reaches me by 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Tuesday morning, September 4. You may send only one email per person, but . . .

if you leave a comment on this post, that comment will count as a second entry as long as your email gives the name you used to comment. I need an email from every entrant because I need to be able to contact the winner, so a comment without a corresponding email will not count as an entry.

Good luck, and check back tomorrow for giveaway number 2 in Booker-Palooza 2012.

UPDATE: Congrats to winner Gerald!



  1. Thank you for this opportunity!

  2. I need a new notebook!! :p This could be my chance

  3. Thanks for all these giveaways! It will be fun - and even more fun if I actually win something. I'm sure I could find a use for this notebook...

  4. test via google plus