Barnes & Notebooks?

It had been a while since I was in my local Barnes & Noble. I popped by today to look for a birthday gift for someone. As is custom, I browsed the stationery section to see if there was anything interesting. Occasionally you find the odd bargain or a version of something you haven’t seen before.

The notebook selection included the standard full display sets of Moleskine and Leuchtterm. The racks contained many of the usual names – Peter Pauper Press, Denik, Rossi, Rifle Paper, Cavallini, Designworks, and Quo Vadis. There were also some Paper Source branded books, which figures given their common ownership.

There was more though. Brands and papers I didn’t expect to see at B&N.

The first item to stand out was this set of Kokuyo Campus notebooks with character art from a manga series called Spy x Family.

$15 for 5 Campus notebooks is strong value. The paper is very good quality. $15 for 5 Campus notebooks is strong value. The paper is very good quality.

Next to that was another Campus notebook with soft ring binding.

There were more Kokuyo 5 packs.

Candy or gum? Your choice. Candy or gum? Your choice.

And a graph paper notebook for good measure.

Rhodia is not uncommon at B&N but it’d been a while since I’d seen any.

Rollbahn (a Delfonics line) was new. I like their aesthetic but don’t prefer the color of the paper they use.

Not recommended for use when changing lanes on the Autobahn.Not recommended for use when changing lanes on the Autobahn.

Nuuna — a brand I’d heard of somewhere. These seem quite well made but I don’t know anything about their paper.

There was a single Laconic monthly planner. Check out The Gentleman Stationer for a rundown on this brand.

Sparse looks outside, but these notebooks have some interesting formats inside. Sparse looks outside, but these notebooks have some interesting formats inside.

And now Midori? Granted, it was only the small size but at this point I’m thinking a person somewhere in the company who’s really into paper got hold of the category merchant’s purchasing account and took a joyride.

The last find was this one from Good Inkpressions. It stood out for obvious reasons.

Shut up and take my money!Shut up and take my money!

This is another name I’d heard before. I know they’ve been around a while but couldn’t recall ever finding their products in person. When I flipped the notebook over, I was caught by the product details.

Is Machine 9 a cousin to Johnny 5?Is Machine 9 a cousin to Johnny 5?

Calling out Tomoe River on the front is one thing. Telling us which machine it came from is another level of geekdom. If a million people looked at this notebook in stores across the country, how many would have any idea what Machine 9” meant? A fraction of one percent, maybe? This is something made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. And here it sits, on the shelf at a big box bookstore. I’m just not used to it.

I decided to get the Good Inkpressions notebook as well as a Campus Soft Ring in blue. Why didn’t I get a picture of the blue notebook in store? Because I found them on a different shelf several feet away from the other notebooks. If there’s one thing I’d want to improve with what I saw at B&N today, it’s how the notebooks are merchandised. I know everything gets picked up and moved around by customers in retail. Been dealing with it all my life. But this seemed to me that same brand items were deliberately separated from each other. Perhaps it was for visual appeal and spacing. But if I see one Kokuyo notebook on the shelf I would like to find all the similar Kokuyo notebooks displayed nearby. If it’s scattershot then I’m compelled to scan the whole rack. That can be its own kind of merchandising, but it also can leave a customer with the feeling that they’re potentially missing something.

After all this excitement I still remembered to look for the birthday gift. Found a good one too. ;-)

10 January 2024