There are a lot of notebooks in the world. Head down to your favorite big box store and you’re bound to be presented with hundreds, if not thousands, of options. Everything from pocket-sized reporter-style notebooks to standard, multi-subject notebooks and everything in between. Add to that the selection of paper colors, rule widths, graph styles and binding options and it gets dizzying.
Then there’s the internet and its plethora of stationery sellers offering sketchbooks and notebooks. Pen-friendly paper. Pencil-friendly paper. Dots. Dashes. Grids. Lines. No lines. Hard bound. Soft bound. Lay-flat. Yeesh.
So, as you can imagine, it’s awfully hard to stand out in a world where there are quite literally thousands of competitors vying for your target audience’s hard-earned dollars. But one UK-based notebook manufacturer has managed to do just that.
Enter: DarkStar Collection.
I was recently contacted by DarkStar to check out their notebooks. I get messages like this a lot, but the thing that stood out to me with them was their promise of a lay-flat notebook and the cool story they had behind the making of their notebooks and how they arrived at the size and shape they did. They were 100% transparent about paper weight, materials, etc. I like that because it allows me to know what I’m buying before I buy. Some other notebook companies could take a cue from Darkstar and offer up a little of their own behind-the-scenes info for potential buyers.
These handsomely-made notebooks feature a kraft brown cover that is lightweight but sturdy. The notebooks are flexible, which makes them nice for shoving down in a messenger bag or backpack. I wouldn’t mind seeing a slightly more sturdy back cover on them, but it’s not a deal-breaker at all. They are bound with a wide black band and the pages are glued in, which makes for easy removal without perforations so you get the whole sheet with nice, even borders all the way around.
I will admit that while I love being able to cleanly remove the pages from the notebook (awesome if you like to scan your pages or if you have a fun drawing to get to the computer), I found that they came out almost too easily, especially when folding the notebook back onto itself for writing on a small surface or my lap. That being said, I’d rather the pages come out too easily than have to mess with perforations that create a mess or don’t let go resulting in a torn page.
The paper is a really nice 100gsm cream-colored stock with a warm grey dot grid pattern. Yeah… 100gsm, y’all. These pages are beefy and they work beautifully with whatever ink I throw at it. Pencils? Psh. Piece of cake. Broad nib fountain pens? Gimme. Rollerballs and ballpoints? Yeah, so? This paper is darn-near perfect. And the A5 size is nice for working with standard stationery products like envelopes and mailers. You can write your buddy a note with your most favorite pen or pencil, tear it out cleanly, fold it in half and shove it in your favorite envelope. Give it a lick and a stamp and your pen pal will be reading about your adventures in no time!
I really, really, really love the paper. The slight downside of it coming out too easily is easy for me to contend with because these notebooks use what I think is some of the best paper I’ve used in any notebook ever. Period. My go-to for fountain pens in the past has been Tomoe River. But this paper with it’s creamy color, slight tooth and versatility gives TR a run for its money.
Yeah, it’s that good.
The lay-flat design is really nice for getting all the way to the edges or, if you're a lefty, I'm sure it would be very comfortable to use as it doesn't have that "bump" in the middle that awkwardly lifts your hand from the page. And, if you're a front-back writer (which you can be with this paper because it doesn't bleed or ghost much at all, if any), it makes it so right-handers can get all the way to that inside margin on the backs of pages. Beautiful design and it truly does lay flat. And, Despite the light weight of the book, it'll stay open where you left it. Beautiful.
If you’re looking for a sturdy, useful notebook that’s handmade with great materials and has a paper that can take whatever you throw at it, look no further than the DarkStar A5 notebook. At £7 each (about $10 USD), they’re a decent value and hold their own against some of the other names in the biz that offer up sub-par paper.
If DarkStar could give me this in an option with about 3x the page count, I’d have my daily office notebook (which I currently carry in a OneStarLeather A5 Notebook Cover) and wouldn’t look back. In the meantime, I’ll keep one of these handy for meeting notes, sketches and ideas that I will likely want to scan or hand off to a friend when I’m done.
If you’re interested in checking out their notebooks, visit DarkStarCollection.com. You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: I purchased these notebooks with my own money. My thoughts about these notebooks are my own. I wasn't paid or bribed or coerced or blackmailed into giving these a good review. They're awesome notebooks and are deserving of all the high fives and thumbs-ups they get.