Notebook Covers - Why Cover a Perfectly Nice Notebook?

An open notebook cover containing two Field Notes notebooksNotebooks. They're handy things to have with you. In some cases, they can be a bit rough and ready, and the covers might not last as long as they need to, but in the case of most decent quality notebooks, they're quite sturdy enough to stand up to plenty of use. And they often look very smart too, with some beautiful cover designs available, or plain and understated if that's your preference.

So Why Cover Them Up?

Well, there can be a few reasons…

  • Protection. If you use notebooks with covers that won't stand up to the handling you give them, a cover can protect them, so they'll last longer. If you buy more expensive notebooks mainly so the covers will last, you could switch to cheaper alternatives.
  • Cult Pens/Ruitertassen Notebook CoverLooks. However nice your notebooks look, a good cover will probably look nicer. They can be made of some beautiful quality leather, or some nice fabric designs, and once you choose the one that looks best to you, all your notebooks will look great.
  • Flexibility. Many covers can hold more than one notebook, and some have extra pockets, or can hold accessories too.

Cult Pens/Ruitertassen Notebook Cover, open.How Do They Work?

There are a few different types. Some just have slots to push the notebook's covers into, so they wrap around, adding a bit of protection. Some have a horizontal slot that a top-bound notepad can push into, often used for meetings or conferences. Some use elastic loops to hold the notebooks in place, looped around the spines.

There are a few variations of the elastic loop type. Some, like our Cult Pens/Ruitertassen covers, have multiple elastic loops, so up to three or four notebooks can be held, just by passing each one behind a different elastic loop. Some have only one elastic loop, but can still hold multiple notebooks - you pass an elastic loop around the spines of two books, attaching them together, then feed one of the books through the loop in the cover, so two are held at once. Repeat for more notebooks, or pass one behind the main elastic loop, and they'll often hold three, four, or more notebooks without any trouble.

Cult Pens/Ruitertassen Notebook Covers in two sizes - 90x140mm and A5.A Bit About Sizes

This is probably one of the first things you'll want to think about - how big do you want your cover to be? Our favourites are ones that take the standard 90x140mm pocket notebooks, and ones that take A5 notebooks. In both cases, these give you plenty of choices for notebooks to put in them, which is handy. The small 90x140mm size is handy for small bags or big pockets, while A5 notebooks give you a bit more space for your ideas and notes, but you'll need a bigger bag to carry the cover.

There are quite a number of covers around in the sizes used by covers from the Traveler's Company, because the Traveler's Notebooks they make were the ones that popularised the idea of leather covers holding multiple notebooks. Their 'standard' size isn't very standard, and neither is their smaller 'passport' size, so finding notebooks to fit won't be as easy as it is with the more common sizes, but along with their own notebooks, there's a healthy market in handmade books and accessories on sites like Etsy.

For larger sizes, 'conference folder' styles are more common - a folding cover that holds an A4 pad in the back, usually with spaces for cards and loose sheets in the front.

While all the available variety is great, and gives you lots of choices, sticking to something standard will keep your options more open in future.

Some Specific Recommendations

Cult Pens/Ruitertassen Notebook Cover, open.At risk of being a bit obvious, we have to recommend our own Cult Pens branded covers, made for us by Ruitertassen, the leather experts. We may be a bit biased, but we love the designs. They're available in A5 or 90x140mm, our two favourite sizes (no, that's not a coincidence!), the leather is top quality, and they're beautifully made. They can easily hold three notebooks, and more if you really need to. They also have spaces for business cards or credit cards, and a pocket that fits loose papers like receipts or index cards. The A5 version even includes a pen loop, and both sizes use a leather push-through closure that's quick to use and looks great.

Paper Republic notebook cover with Kaweco pen pouch.If you'd prefer something simpler, Paper Republic's covers are wonderfully minimalist - just a piece of leather and two pieces of elastic. The quality gives them a lovely feel, though, and the leather ages wonderfully with use - we can vouch for that! Their smaller 'Passport Size' covers are just slightly wider than 90x140mm, but hold 90x140mm notebooks very nicely. Their accessories are really handy too - inserts that fit in just like a notebook, adding pockets and card slots. They have one elastic loop, so you'll need extra elastic loops to hold more than one notebook (or maybe two, using the inner part of the loop).

In a similarly simple style, Calepino's covers have lovely leather, three elastic loops to hold notebooks, and interesting corner elastic loops to hold them closed.

At the very simple and low-cost end, Rhodia's ePure covers are a nice simple idea. They're made in sizes to fit a wide range of Rhodia's much-loved head-stapled notepads, and just add a bit of protection and style, along with a pen loop.

And if you want a bit of luxury for business meetings or conferences, there are some beautiful covers from Graf von Faber-Castell and Hugo Boss.

And if you just want an easy way to carry a pocket-sized notebook and some pens? Well, the Nock Sinclair might be perfect for you.

19 October 2018

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