“ Brand: Oxford / Type: Notebook „
I have a bit of an obsession with nice notebooks. I love Moleskine in particular, can spend hours looking at Paperblanks notebooks in book stores, and whenever I come across good quality notebooks that aren't too shockingly expensive, I buy them in numbers that would shock most people and which lead my husband to shake his head in weary resignation every time he sees them piled up in the cupboard. I'm a firm believer that if something is worth writing down, then it's worth writing down on good paper in a good notebook. Whilst I'm happy to scribble with disposable Biros and hotel pencils, I am a stationery snob and cheap writing pads set my teeth on edge like nails on a chalk-board.
I'm far too mean to use my good notebooks at work and luckily I don't need to because we have a wonderful secretary who never quibbles about what we request from the stationery catalogue. In order to prevent myself from frittering away hours browsing in the catalogue, I now have a standard order that I place every six to nine months for a set of five Oxford Office notebooks in A4 size. I don't really know how much we actually pay for these as the prices in the catalogue are notoriously inflated to discourage us from spending too much.
Oxford Office Notebooks come in a number of different formats. You can get different sizes - my preference is A4 but one of my colleagues always orders the A5 size. I've had one of her A5s when I ran out of A4s but I really couldn't get the hang of the smaller size. There's also a size called A4+ which is slightly wider than A4 and has perforations and pre-punched pages that you can tear out of the book. Those are only relevant if you are the sort of person who keeps things in ring binders and I most certainly am not one of those.
Oxford Office notebooks come in both wire-bound and hard cover versions. I'm faithful to the wire-bound format because hard covered notebooks are both heavier and more expensive. As a notebook obsessive, I still can't quite believe I'm allowed to order nice notebooks at the company's expense and I don't want to take the Micky by going for the more expensive formats.
If like me you stick to the wire-bound format, the other variable which has some impact on the costs is the choice of cover. For several years I was choosing the ones with the flexible plastic semi-transparent covers. When I made my last order, I downgraded to the slightly cheaper pearlescent cardboard covers but I probably wouldn't bother again as the plastic covers are so much nicer and I am prone to putting coffee mugs on them so I appreciate the wipe-clean surface. If you buy a pack of five, they come in five different colours. I find this helps me to remember which one I'm using and avoid taking old ones with me by mistake.
~Take the Money or Open the Book~
All of the Oxford Office notebooks I've had come with a clever plastic ruler inside which clips round the wires and can be used as a bookmark as it can be easily pulled out and repositioned. I don't do this but it is often the only thing I can find for measuring with so that's how I use it as a rule (sorry, pun entirely intended).
The first and last pages are unruled. I use the first page for my name, contact details and the date I start the book. After that I have 90 pages of ruled and margined paper to play with. I choose the unperforated notebooks so the page is true A4 in size. The paper used is smooth and doesn't drag at your pen or pencil like cheap paper can do. It has a level of whiteness which the manufacturers claim is designed to be easy on the eyes and is of a quality that weighs 90g per square meter which makes it strong, non transparent and not prone to tearing or damage. The lines are ruled at 7 mm intervals which is wide enough for even my horrible scruffy writing.
The world is full of wire-bound notebooks but I would suspect that anyone whose used cheap ones will have had the problem of the wires pulling out and distorting. I've had dozens of Oxford Office notebooks and to date none of them have done this. Mine normally looks just as good when I complete the final page as they do when I start writing on the first.
~What's the Damage?~
I'd been assuming that these notebooks were stupidly expensive because the stationery catalogue has them at around £40-50 for a set of five. Checking on Amazon, I realised just how much the catalogue prices are inflated as depending on the cover choice, a set of five will cost around £20 to £25 which is the sort of price I would pay if I really had no alternative and if work started to cut back on stationery spending.