I like being able to write notes in a small notebook, but I like to use different notebooks for different things, and yet I want them all close together for reference. Small paper notebooks from Moleskine and Field Notes aren’t exactly built for durability, so now what?

I’ve tried several options, even went into the smaller passport-sized Midori for a while which was nice but I didn’t like having to stick to Midori-sized notebooks because they’re not common in my area. The full-size Midori is really a beautiful notebook and the format of the notebooks is awesome. They have a loyal fan base and I totally understand why, but at the same time I don’t have the same reliance on a notebook that the devotees have and I like being able to carry in a jacket or back pocket.

In between those two sizes are the almost 3x5 inch options like the Moleskine Cahier notebooks, and those are readily available and also have paper I like to write on, so that format seems to make more sense for me. The problem still remained though, where these pocket notebooks aren’t easily organized on the go, and I’ve been searching around on Etsy and elsewhere for options and have tried a couple before my recent find, which was something that caught my eye and didn’t cost a lot either, from Zenok Leather.

Zenok Leather

Zenok Leather makes several notebook covers, mine is very simple with minimal flair which means it’s thin, flexible, and has guide cords for holding 4 notebooks, but anyone that has used notebooks like this also knows you can get a little creative and find ways to attach more. I’ve also tossed in my Midori’s sleeve organizer which has a ziplock-style enclosure and a pocket for business cards. The leather feels excellent, the color options are great and so far the dye has been true and hasn’t bled or leeched onto the notebooks, which was a complaint I had with the last cover I tried.

I love having a way to keep the notebook from flopping open and this cover has a great design with small indentations in the cover that permit the stretch-cord and bumper to get a snug fit. A simple but elegant way to keep things from sliding around too much and no fussing with an extra-long strap that requires knowledge of macramé or a merit badge.

I don’t often go for a monogram but it was included with my purchase so figured a little personalization was an indulgance I’d allow myself.

Zenok Cover - Opened Up
Zenok Cover - Opened Up

Without a clip you can’t reliably keep any notebook like this open to a page while lying flat, but I do like that the cover itself doesn’t get in the way of these things. Usually I end up either taking a snapshot with my phone or scanning the paper when I need to refer back to something and want to be able to find it reliably. I flag places of interest with little stickers but more often than not I use paper as a way to think rather than a place to keep things I want to work on — I’m just too paranoid about losing or damaging paper and I find it hard to reference unless I have fewer than half a dozen things to keep track of.

I sketch, make lists, and really find it is a great way to prime the brain pump and get things moving. There is a lot to be said for the psychology of paper and the way our brain often treats the act of writing and drawing on something you can handle, I guess ultimately what I’m getting at is that I am hopeful that I’m able to get many of those benefits without the maintainance and upkeep to ensure it’s effective. Regardless, I find it pleasurable, and that’s usually all the reason I need for anything.

A thank-you on hand-made paper.
A thank-you on hand-made paper.

Whenever I buy something and get a hand-written note, it endears me to the seller forever. The fact that this was on hand-made paper that my daughter claimed as her own didn’t hurt either. I’ve already made a note to investigate making some for ourselves for crafting at home, so that’s yet another reason to be delighted.

I’ve made quite a few small purchases like this on Etsy and I’ve been impressed with all of them, but this one just just felt like I should share it with the world because it scratched the itch so well.

My specific cover is called the Midori Passport Size Cahier Pocket Size and you can select Midori Passport or Cahier/Field Notes from that listing to suit your desired notebooks. There is a version that also includes a place to put some cards in the cover and I don’t know if that changes the profile of the cover enough that it would feel too bulky — it looks to me like it would be acceptable for me but wasn’t something I felt like I needed anyway. For me having pockets and folds is usually just going to ensure I fill it with crap I don’t need anyway!

Thanks for finding this interesting enough to reach the bottom. This may mean you’re similarly struggling to find the right way to carry your notes with you — if you haven’t been considering the hand-made route from an Etsy seller, there are a lot of great options waiting for you and I bet you’ll be struggling to pick one for yourself soon.