My product review today is not from a pen or stationery company. It’s a product from a company I just wanted to buy from and support. I love what Shinola is doing for the Detroit community and the economy as a whole. I first become interested in the company and their products through another hobby of mine, watches. After their watches came some really cool bicycles and I think they have expanded even more now. Wanting to support their growth and ambition, even in a small way, I purchased one of their journals. A green 5 x 8.
Shinola Medium Hard Linen Journal
- Forest Pine (also available in other colors)
- 192 Ruled Pages (also available in grid and plain)
- 60 lb / 90 GSM Acide Free Paper
- Black elastic closure band and black page marker ribbon
- 8.25″ x 5.25″
The user experience with their website, order fulfillment and shipping speed were all top shelf. My journal came quickly and packaged well. The clear shrink wrap is a good protector and it’s well executed with a nice marketing wrap inside the shrink wrap. Popular today is the user experience and companies trying to connect with their customers on a personal level by sharing and bringing you in on their story. I may not be part of the family yet but I feel good about supporting them
The cover is a warm, dark, almost evergreen in color. The texture is more fabric than smooth vinyl or leather, with a grippy feel and a classy look. Drawing no real attention at the board meeting or on the soccer field.
Branding is attractive without being obtrusive on the bottom of the back cover. The front cover is completely blank.
Standard for this genre of notebooks is the manila pocket on the inside back cover. I have never been a user of them but this one looks typical.
The binding is unique. Ok maybe the actual binding is not unique but how the spine of the notebook behaves is unusual to me, in a good way. I have lamented in many posts that a notebook that doesn’t lay flat is a deal breaker for me. I have renegotiated that deal a little bit but not in a way I ever expected to. Barring a lot of brute force the Shinola spine does not waver from perfectly vertical when you’re in the beginning pages of the notebook. The pages lay flat on their respective side of the notebook with the left side (the backs) being at a slight angle due to the vertical spine. After unsuccessfully trying to make the notebook go traditional flat for me I was annoyed for a moment that the writing experience would be unpleasant but I gave it a try and learned it’s perfectly fine. About a quarter of the way through the notebook I am seeing a slight tilt to the spine and moving to the center of the notebook I see the more traditional laying flay behavior. Writing on the back (left side) of the pages is different but the slight downward angle of the paper for this rightie didn’t distract from my writing at all.
I’m not sure if all of this was part of the design process but it was a new experience for me and I certainly wouldn’t shy away from another Shinola because of it, it’s just different.
The paper Shinola chose is good quality. The lined format is a pleasant beige with grey lines printed front and back with a slightly larger header at the top of each page and a tiny blank footer at the bottom. Lines go full bleed all the way across the pages, front and back, and meet in the middle through the binding. Line spacing is ¼” or about 6.5 mm. Fine with me.
With my fine nib fountain pens and all the rollerball / ballpoints I could throw at it the paper performed very well. The paper has excellent drying times but with the bigger nibs the feathering and show through was more than I like. One could argue that ¼” line spacing is a little tight for broad nibs anyway. You can still get away with using one side of the paper if you like the fatties laying down rivers of ink. Again, fine nibs and rollerball / ballpoints were a wonderful experience and dry quickly if you’re a multi pager at one sitting.
You have to look close for any ghosting with fine nibs and gel inks.
Some spread and feathering with the broad nibs
Bleed and show through with the fatties
I love the Shinola brand and the company. My dream is to own one of their bicycles but for now my Shinola notebook is serving me well as a daily life events diary. After about a month it still looks like new and after I fill this one up I strongly suspect there will be another one in my future.
Check out what Shinola is doing, even if you don’t buy anything or you’re happy with your current notebook, their story and their passion is inspiring.
Remember: Write something nice……
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