The Alwych Book: The perfect soft cover, the perfect notebook?

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61 responses to “The Alwych Book: The perfect soft cover, the perfect notebook?

  1. The notebook seems great, but the massive gold lettering on the cover would put me off a fair bit…

  2. I have to admit I’ve never seen or heard of these before and I’ve visited a fair number of stationery stores in London over the years.

    I’ll see if I stumble across any the next time I’m in town, but wouldn’t actually buy one due to the gold embossing, just not my thing.

    – Neil.

  3. Evidently, the Alwych book is a favorite of birders in the UK. In fact, the only other means I know of ordering one is from the Waxwings Natural History Books web site:

    http://www.waxwings.co.uk/index.php

    The Alwych web site hasn’t been updated in years, it seems to me (nor have the books, which is a good thing). The “Super Alwych” they refer to may be the large-sized, hardcover edition that was released some time ago. It’s about the same dimensions as a U. S. composition book, has 240 pages of the off-white paper, same “all weather cover” and retro graphics (which I love and hope they never do away with). Evidently its purpose is to provide a larger, more permanent home for one’s field notes. I have one (which I got from Waxwings) and think it’s a great general-purpose journal. I want to get my hands on one of these pocket versions though, so thanks for the thorough review.

  4. Steve –

    Thanks for the info. Good to know that the notebook can stand up to all the rigors of bird watching! I agree with you – there’s something distinctly UK-ish about the notebook, a bit prim and proper, but more retro than snooty. I hope they don’t change it either.

    Nick, Black Cover

  5. Had never heard of them, despite living just along the road from the printer’s!

    That style of blank space at the top of the page is standard in the UK — it’s used for titles/dates/indexing etc.

  6. Fantastic review and commentary, thanks!!!

  7. I agree with you that the Moleskine “brand aficionado” thing can get a little bit out of hand. It took me a couple of years to get past being a snob about it and it’s always the newer users giving the notebook magical properties and seeing themselves as a part of a literary tradition. You might note that there are other gimmicks in the insert. As in, if you don’t rush out and buy lots of notebooks, you might run out of them like Bruce Chatwin did…It’s fun to believe in a little, it’s also stupid in the end.

    But I still think the Moleskine notebook–if it’s not the best ever designed, which I believe it might be, it would be in the top 3. I do like that it lies flat, I like that the cover can take a beating, I don’t use the back pocket either and I rip out the bookmarks first day. But it’s well designed, nearly perfect in most proportions, somehow sleek and somehow very inexpensive at the chain bookstore. Vincent Van Gogh and Hemingway might very well use them if they were alive today. I KNOW they would have messy handwriting and scratchouts and 2nd drafts and anyone who doesn’t think so is unfamiliar with the writing process.

  8. Michael Palin uses them.

  9. I was thinking earlier. We’ve all been walking around very conceited about our notebooks for a half dozen years. How are you going to continue to see yourself as the avante guard when there are millions of customers? These are, after all, mass-produced products…

  10. I bought a stack of these after reading this excellent blog.

    They’re robust, easy to carry, pleasant to write upon. I enjoy using them more than Moleskines as I treat them as notebooks, rather than as repositories for Great Thoughts.

    On the downside, they’re not as robust as Moleskines, and will acquire a more battered patina over time.

    Having got my notebooks, I realised I actually already had a vintage Alwych from some fifteen years ago. The vintage one doesn’t have the gold logo on the front, and has a finer-grained faux leather cover, but is otherwise the same.

    This vintage notebook has survived several moves and a trip or two to the Alps and is still in good condition.

    Recommended.

  11. Amazon.com now caries Alwych books. No overseas shipping charges.

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