WritePads: Lenore Review and Kindred Spirit First Impressions

I have been lucky enough to receive both of WritePads limited edition packs of notebooks in my monthly Pocket Notebooks subscription box; the Lenore edition and the newly released Kindred Spirit. Today I’m compiling my thoughts on the Lenore and my initial impressions of the Kindred Spirit.

Branding and inside the box

I really like the WritePads branding. The branding style makes you feel like this is a collector’s product. Both sets come in a hardy but gorgeously decorated box which represents the design concept of the notebooks. I thought the Lenore branding was very unique with a window cut in the box and foil stamped with an ornate bronze¬†frame and “Write” (I’m a sucker for a foil stamp). The notebooks are styled to reflect Edgar Allan Poe and through the window on the cover you can see a portrait of Poe himself. On opening the box you are presented with a postcard with Poe’s portrait, a quotation that inspired the name of the edition “Lenore”, a little crow silhouette and “Limited Edition Pocket Series No. 1”. Inside the box there are three stylish and symmetrical notebooks, each with “LENORE” emblazoned on the front cover in the same bronze hue. I love the use of bronze throughout this edition, it feels really vintage and old-fashioned and goes beautifully with the black.

Beautiful bronze foil stamping on the Lenore box
Beautiful bronze foil stamping and the Poe portrait on the Lenore box
Stunning variation of colours on the foil stamp
Stunning variation of colours on the foil stamp

On the back and sides of the box there is more WritePads branding and limited edition branding, all in the same beautiful foil stamped bronze. No side is left untouched and it’s all gorgeous.

Branding on the side of the Lenore box
Branding on the side of the Lenore box

Lenore notebook

The notebook is gorgeous and there are a few key differences with my normal notebook choice: it’s glue-bound, not stapled; it’s thicker (64 pages vs 48 pages); the grid is much tighter than what I’m used to with graph paper; and the paper is heavier than normal (approximately 105gsm vs 90gsm). All of this makes me feel like this notebook has a great opportunity to be used in a different way to other pocket notebooks; for a longer time, with a greater range of writing instruments, possibly even as a little exercise book or journal.

On the tube I write words beginning with certain letters. A small part of me feels it keeps my brain sharp!
On the tube I write words beginning with certain letters. A small part of me feels it keeps my brain sharp!

Glue-binding

I just couldn’t get on board with the glue-bind of the notebook. I use pocket notebooks quite a lot on the go and trying to write on the opposing side of the glue bind wasn’t easy and I resent bending it all the way round because you get ugly lines on the cover stock and still don’t get to use the whole page. Also, after I started using it, it was never flat again! Not flat for writing and not flat left on a desk. It’s inevitable that pocket notebooks get a bit of volume to them over time, but I just found I was forever bending it to try and get it flat and always had to clip it shut.

A new Lenore with a used Lenore (clipped shut)
A new Lenore with a used Lenore (clipped shut)

Grid layout

The grid used on the Lenore paper is tiny. I have smallish handwriting but I just found it too small to stick to in any way and I found it distracting. It’s a small point but I think I could have got more used to the tight grid if the lines were printed more lightly but they’re quite contrasting with the white paper.

Lenore grid compared to a Field Notes 2016 Tournament of Books edition
Lenore grid compared to a Field Notes 2016 Tournament of Books edition

Paper stock

The paper does perform better than other pocket notebooks with lighter-weight paper, no doubt about it. But for me it doesn’t perform well enough to warrant using it differently to other pocket notebooks. This is fine, but for some reason I had hopes that this would be a fountain pen notebook. The paper is very absorbent so it means dry time is basically nothing, but it does leave a very slight feather around all of my ink notes, even with a fine nib and the paper doesn’t have the smoothness that makes using a fountain pen really enjoyable. It works really well with pencils and ballpoints, so it ticks all the boxes with my day-to-day notebook usage; I just would have loved it if the paper stock had been more fountain pen friendly as the notebook has such a premium feel to it and being able to use fountain pens with pocket notebooks is generally a rarity.

Zoom in of fountain pen tests - you can see the texture of the paper and get a feel for how absorbent it is
Zoom in of fountain pen tests – you can see the texture of the paper and get a feel for how absorbent it is

Lenore final thoughts

I’m glad I had the opportunity to try out this notebook as they are gorgeous and were much talked about. They’re not for me in the long run (just as well because they sold out very quickly!) but I am 100% on board with WritePads design philosophy and analogue ethos. Using the Lenore has made me consider how flexible I am with pocket notebooks. I’ve got so used to stapled pocket notebooks threaded into my fauxdori that a different style which is meant to be standalone has left me feeling like it doesn’t fit into my system. I think there is room for a different type of pocket notebook in my carry because I was left feeling disappointed that the Lenore wasn’t more fountain pen friendly. So I’m going to continue to explore that further to see if I can fill that niche in my system.


Kindred Spirit unboxing

This edition also bears a full graphic on its box cover, this time an old-fashioned sign. It looks like it could be carved out of stone in real life. I really like the pride used in the language on the cover: “100% all natural”, “ideal for writing, drawing, doodling and jotting”, “trademark made in USA”. I also love the name of the edition “Kindred Spirit” – it’s ideal for a pocket notebook. For a short amount of time, they become your constant companion. It’s a really fitting concept, and the cover is super stylish with its dark embossing.

A very similar approach is used for the box as with the Lenore edition, no side untouched, highly decorative and the same “Write” font used on both boxes. A couple of little differences: Kindred Spirit has “3 – LINED NOTEBOOKS” on the reverse where Lenore didn’t have anything, and secondly even though the edition is named Kindred Spirit, the term “BOOKETTES” has been branded on the top and bottom sides of the box where Lenore had “Lenore”. As with the Lenore edition, the box has me expecting great things.

Kindred Spirit box with branding
Kindred Spirit box with branding
Kindred Spirit notebooks. I didn't get a blue one, sad face.
Kindred Spirit notebooks. I didn’t get a blue one, sad face.

I’m interested that this notebook is similar to the Shinola pocket notebooks. I picked these Shinolas up in Boston at the Harvard book store where they seemed to be on display similar to how Moleskines are in the UK. I’m going to start using one of my Shinola notebooks while I’m using the Kindred Spirit to see how they compare.

WritePads Kindred Spirit and Shinola small paper journal side by side
WritePads Kindred Spirit and Shinola small paper journal side by side
Interior of a Shinola paper journal (back) and WritePads Kindred Spirit edition (front)
Interior of a Shinola paper journal (back) and WritePads Kindred Spirit edition (front). I love the WritePads orange lines against the white paper.

The notebooks – I’m excited again

I can already see that the Kindred Spirit design responds to my issues with the Lenore. The notebooks are the same size as Lenore and the main difference is that these are lined instead of gridded. These are simple notebooks, with “Write” branded inside a little black flame. The butcher orange cover is gorgeous and it looks like it’s been slightly handled already with little flecks in the paper stock. I really like this effect. It’s not too “perfect”.

Can you see the slightly used effect of the cover stock?
Can you see the slightly used effect of the cover stock?

Thankfully the lined paper inside is much more generous in size than the Lenore grid, which is a big plus for me, and the glue binding doesn’t appear to be as restrictive. The Lenore glue binding only allowed the paper to open so far, whereas the Kindred Spirit seems to allow you to open the notebook much closer to the spine. Hopefully this should alleviate my flatness issue. I haven’t tested the paper yet so we’ll see if there is any difference in performance with fountain pens.

In summary

Although I wasn’t too keen on the Lenore, I’m still very curious to use WritePads products. As I’ve mentioned, the concepts behind the notebooks are detailed, unique, thoughtful and really creative, which I love. The Lenore wasn’t a fit for me because I think I was expecting a different kind of product and it didn’t really fit into my routine. However I’m excited to try out the Kindred Spirit edition because I think it has already taken account of my issues with the Lenore and might prove to be a whole different paper experience. I think I’ll be using the Kindred Spirit edition a bit more casually than I intended with the Lenore. I’ll update you when I’ve finished one!

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