They call me the Tomoe addict
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tomoe River paper, or that I’m pretty discerning about my notebooks. I go through at least one notebook a month just for work, and I know what I like. At the moment I’m powering through one of these, and wishing the paper wasn’t so rough-textured. First-world problem, I know.
Anyway, when a new notebook maker comes along promising something a little different, I waste no time. In this case, I might well have a scoop with this review: this notebook isn’t even available yet.
I’ve been using it heavily for 48 hours for work and pleasure, and I feel comfortable giving my verdict on everything except long-term durability.
Different by design
The “Author”, by UK-based GLP Creations, is an ambitious first product, with a really clear use-case guiding its design decisions. I admire that kind of approach. Founder Gavin sees this as a notebook for on-the-go use, so it’s designed to be slimmer and lighter than the usual A5 sidebound, hard-cover notebooks.
The cover is soft, faux-leather, and the Author sticks to just 192 sheets of Tomoe River at 68gsm weight, so it all comes in noticeably thinner and more accommodating than the traditional Moleskine template. It’s perfect for sliding into a bag or even a coat pocket. What you might not realise until you compare it with other notebooks is that the page itself is narrower than true A5, by about an inch.
That reduces the real estate a little bit, but also means it sits better on cafe tables and train seat-trays and in pockets. Again, it goes back to GLP’s use case of travelling note-takers.
So how does it write? You noticed the magic words: Tomoe River. GLP picked the thicker 68gsm variety, so while there’s less of a smooth sheen than the 52gsm version, the crinkling and showthrough are greatly reduced.
The paper of course is as wonderful to write on as ever, but GLP has made a number of other design decisions to make the writing experience better. Included in the pack is a sheet of blotting paper to compensate for Tomoe’s slow drying times (I’ve been using a sheet of blotting paper as a bookmark in my Hobonichis and all my notebooks for years). There are page numbers, a contents page (not made from Tomoe, so you don’t have to worry about dry times), rounded corners, a bookmark, elastic closure and a back pocket — almost all of the features I listed out in my article on the perfect notebook for work.
My review sample was marked with faint 7mm lines, which I found to perfectly suit my handwriting with medium and larger pens — although compared to the dainty 3.7mm grid in my Japanese-language version Hobonichis, the lines feel cavernous. Grid and plain options are also going to be available at launch.
Because the Author is so slim, there are no steep height differentials between pages, even at the start or end of the notebook. That helps comfort. And although it’s not explicitly a layflat binding, I found that the Author did indeed stay open of its own accord fairly well. The stitching is white and neatly done; I have no worries about pages falling out.
Between writing sessions, with the book closed, the design is understated and handsome. The cover is black (although it appears from the GLP website that other colours are to come) and has a matte finish, with a slight leather texture — not pebbly like the Dingbats finish, but much more tactile than the smooth Leuchtturm or Moleskine. On the back, the GLP logo is debossed.
The covers are rounded like the paper, and the spine is rounded too. The edges of the covers are almost piped with an orangey brown, which makes the overall look a bit more organic, a bit less imposing. In the hand, the covers flex noticeably: they’re not floppy and the book won’t roll up, but it’ll conform in a coat pocket or slip into a gap in a bag that bit easier.
So let’s recap. The author is slim and pocketable, with an understated, tactile design. It’s got the all-important Tomoe paper, with a tonne of features: bookmark, elastic closure, page numbers, ToC, back pocket. All for a price that GLP estimates to be under £20, available this Spring from Amazon.
The big competition in the UK at least is the Taroko Breeze, also available at £20, from Bureau Direct. Like the Author, it has Tomoe River paper (about the same number of pages, some given over to ink swatch boxes), but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
The Breeze has a card cover, a squared spine and no rounded corners. It’ll get tatty in a bag much more quickly. No elastic closure, no bookmark. It’s a little fancier: the name is prominently foiled in silver right on the front; there are textured blue outer pages; and the page numbers are more subtly integrated into the dot grid on my sample. But it’s clear that the Breeze is meant for the desk, while the Author is meant for the bag.
I really, really like the Author notebook. The vision behind it is crystal clear, and the execution is flawless (even though my sample is a hand-assembled prototype). At £20, it’s not a cheap notebook. You can pick a Ciak or Leuchtturm up for a tenner. But if you want Tomoe, you’ve got fewer options. The Breeze is the closest competitor, and it’s the same same price.
The only things I’d improve on the Author are the page numbers, and maybe the colour of the bookmark to coordinate with the cover. I’m already using the Author as my main work companion, and it’s holding up great. I’m sure I’ll rattle through the 192 pages in no time at all — and order another one.
Thanks to GLP Creations for sending me the notebook to review for free. As always, see my ethics page if that concerns you.