In the world of fountain pens, I feel like there are things that you have always used, things that you know you’ll never use, and things that you’ve never used but are curious about. Something that sits squarely in that last category for me is a journal cover. For some reason I’ve never picked up a cover for any of my notebooks, but have always thought that I’d like to try one out someday. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Katelyn at SohoSpark to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their journals. In fact, she said she’d send over a few journals so that I could hold a giveaway (more on that at the end of this post)! Of course, I said I’d love to try out their journals. This also means that they were given to me for free, but rest assured, all opinions are my own.
When the box of journals arrived at my place, I was a little surprised at how big it was. In my head I was expecting something big enough to hold three notebooks, but in reality, three journals with covers take up quite a bit more room! The wonderful packaging that these journals have also adds a bit of space. Each journal comes packaged in its own attractive box. Looks like we’re off to a good start!The journals themselves are extremely attractive and soft. It’s hard to believe that they are made of synthetic, vegan leather, because they feel just like real leather. Each one has a distinct design on the cover and all have a different feel. They look to be very well-made and seem to be a very solid product at first glance. Of course, you know that I’m a paper guy. While this is a journal review, I had to try out the notebook that is included with each journal. It’s not a paper review, so I’m not going to provide a rating, but still want to give you an idea of what to expect from the included paper.
Here are the details for the paper in the journals:
- Pages: 240 (120 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 80gsm
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Lined, Dot, Blank
- Size: A5
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: Very Low
- Shading: Low
- Bleeding: High
- Ghosting: Low
- Feathering: High
- Dry Time: Average
- Page marking ribbon
- Numbered pages
- *No index page
Let’s take a closer look at these journals. As I mentioned, the packaging is fantastic. The box that they arrive in is sturdy and attractive. Once you get inside the box, you’ll find an info card and your new journal wrapped in tissue paper.
These journals come with many different cover options. From dragons to trees, from red to black, there should be an option for almost everyone. I say almost because, to be quite honest, I would personally prefer a blank cover option instead of a debossed design. Still, the designs are nice and seem like they’ll wear well. The back of each journal has the branding debossed on it.
The quality and construction of the journals and materials is fantastic. The vegan leather material is incredibly soft and supple, but not so soft that I’m worried about it getting damaged with normal use. The cover is padded, which adds to how soft it feels. The stitching appears to be high quality and very regular.
In my brief experience with journal covers, one of the main benefits that jumps out at me (other than protecting your notebook) is the added weight they give your notebooks. Many times, opening a notebook to the first or last pages can be difficult because the covers don’t weigh enough to lay flat and the notebook will close on its own. The journal cover adds enough weight to easily hold down the notebook cover so it doesn’t close on itself.
The journal is purely a notebook cover and doesn’t come with any extras. There is no physical closure, such as a snap or buckle, for the cover. Inside you won’t find any pockets or pen loops. I don’t mind, as it seems like these are things that I wouldn’t use and that would only add bulk and weight. Still, some people might want them.
As you can see above, the paper that comes with these journals is not the best around. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if other A5-sized journals would fit in one of these SohoSpark covers. Much to my delight, they did! While I didn’t try out every notebook that I have, the two I randomly grabbed, a Midori MD A5 and a Clairefontaine Basic A5, both fit just fine. I can’t promise that all A5 notebooks will fit, though.
My experience with notebook covers may not be vast, but I feel like I know a good product when I see one. After using the SohoSpark journals for a few weeks now, I believe that they are a great product that will serve you well. They are well-made, feel great, are not overly large or heavy, have many different design options, are relatively inexpensive, and hold a variety of different notebooks. They don’t have a lot of extras and the included notebooks are not great to use with some fountain pens, but if you don’t need the extras and have another notebook to use, they are truly a great deal!
Thanks to the generosity of SohoSpark, I have two journals to give away! For your chance to win one (either the tree or compass design), please enter via the widget below. Due to the size/weight of the journals and the cost of shipping, this contest is only open to US residents. To everyone outside of the US, hang in there. I’ve got another giveaway coming up soon!
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Disclaimer: These journals were provided to me for free for the purposes of this review. All opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by the generosity of SohoSpark.