Review – HŌM (Home Essence) Black Linen Journal (Pocket book)

Sometimes, my weakness for inexpensive notebooks does actually lead me to a bad one. In this case, I was aware starting off that the HŌM Linen Pocket Notebook was only a serviceable notebook, and just barely above the many unusable notebooks that one can find on the shelves at Wal-Mart. But maybe I’m a little harsh sometimes. How bad could it be?

It’s a standard little black book: 3½ x5½, with 100 sheets. Most of the “luxurious” features are omitted (no pocket), but there is an elastic band attached via a grommet on the back cover. The cover has a slick “linen” finish that is easy to scratch but hides it well. It’s a soft cover with straight corners that get dinged easily. The whole thing is nice and springy, but the finish quickly starts separating from its cardstock backing with use. The whole edge is “gilded” in a neon color (mine’s green) that matches the elastic band.

The paper is an off white and ruled at close to ⅓rd inch (which is way too big). The ruling doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the page (which I really dislike), and the margin is wider at the top and less wide at the bottom (which I don’t really care about). The paper feels quite thick, and the grain is pretty boring (it’s not slick, it’s not rough, it’s just… weird feeling). It performs fine with ballpoints and pencils (minimal showthrough), and it does better with fountain pens than one might expect, but bleedthrough is still present. Smaller felt-tip pens do fine, but, not surprising to anyone, it can’t handle Sharpies.

This notebook strikes a few bad chords with me: poor (neon) color choice, easy to damage softcover binding, and wide ruling (I didn’t expect it to play nice with fountain pens, but it didn’t impress me). And the rest of the features don’t really make up any ground. It’s far from the worst notebook you can find on the shelves of your local department store, but it’s not really worth looking at.

Moleskine Customer Service

Moleskine, the company that produces moleskine notebooks under the trademark seems to pride itself in its customer service. This is something they would have to do considering the fact that they are inferior to most other notebook in their price range in most ways. In fact, each Moleskine book comes with a little sticker and a quality control number. If you receive a defective notebook in theory all you have to do is go to their website, enter some info, and they’ll send you a brand new replacement. How does this work in practice? Well, I was unfortunate enough to get a defective book and have to find out.

moleskine problem

The first thing one has to do is go to the website and fill out a form. The questions are fairly easy and harmless.  It does require the QC number and a photo of the defect. It’s all nothing too difficult. Their media uploader needs some work, in my opinion, but I’m uploading content all the time with some of the best uploads in the world so I guess I’m spoiled.

Something a bit misleading here is that they ask for your email address. I thought this would mean that they would send me some confirmation email about whether or not my new book was shipping. I got no such email, I got no email at all. Moleskine has, to this day, never emailed me.

So I sent off my request for a notebook and waited. They guarantee a new book in two weeks so that is how long I did this waiting. Deciding I must have done something wrong (Like enter my email wrong) I resent the request.

The literal next day I got a package in the mail that was my new Moleskine. It had only arrived two days late, which was no big deal, except for the fact that I had just reordered this book.

it was a lot better than this

it was a lot better than this

Now I don’t want people thinking I’m a thief, so I called the customer support at the number on the package (the American distributor for Moleskine) and had them stop my second request. It only took a couple of minutes and everyone sounded very pleasant.

So, does Moleskine live up to the customer support they say they have? Absolutely. I received my a new notebook almost within two weeks of sending in my request (this is understandable because Moleskine is in Italy and I’m in south-west Texas, i.e. beyond the middle of nowhere). The entire process was quick, easy and painless. It would have been even better had it not been for my internet paranoia. So if you do receive a defective Moleskine, know that your problem can be quickly and painlessly rectified.

Review – Escalada 3.5 x 5.75 Pocket Journal

So, you’re out and about, you’ve just finished your last pocket notebook and are looking for a new one. You happen across one. It’s got 80 sheets of thick sketch paper and is only a couple bucks. It even looks kinda nice in its faux-leather binding. Is this small Escalada journal a good buy? Let’s see.


We’ll start with the binding. It’s surprisingly good, it flexes well and doesn’t break under standard usage conditions. The binding, as well as the cover is of course cardboard covered in faux-leather with a slightly unattractive sheen. This layer holds up alright, though it does start to peel and rub off at the corners which is very unsightly. It also gets gummy in high temperatures and begins to take the shape of whatever is next to it, so where the elastic band is there will be a permanent set of grooves. But it hasn’t melted or gotten sticky in the time I’ve used it and I live in the middle of the desert.


The paper is 80 sheets of 74 lb drawing paper. It’s thick but flimsy, it feels as if it’s falling apart sometimes and ink bleeds through and can be easily seen on the other side in some cases. Yet I have had no instances of marking on the next page. It has an easily visible grain and does at times warp ones drawings, mostly pencil though and not very much. The roughness is a bit unsightly to me but that’s just personal preference. Despite the flimsy feeling of the pages they are very stout and remain ridged most of the time. They resist bending, however I feel that if they did bend they would soon fall apart.

It’s an alright pocket sketchbook. It’s cheap, both in price and manufacturing, but it does do its job well enough. Just carrying it in a bag or a case won’t do much harm to it, especially since it only has eighty pages and can be run through fairly quickly. However, if your life is a bit more rough and tumble than most this is not for you, it will look ugly shortly and fall apart not long after. It does best if you’re looking for a notebook to store in your bag or somewhere on the cheap and don’t have too much preference as to the quality of the content you put in it.