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Blueline Notebooks: a Love Story

Blueline Notebooks in a stackI love stationery. I love stationery in a way that defies explanation. I know it’s not normal; I made peace with being a weirdo long ago.

After many journal trials and tribulations, I’ve found my life partner in Blueline Notebooks.

It’s Just a Phase

I write daily so I fill my journals in a month or two. (One time I filled one in three weeks, but I was on vacation for much of it with little else to do besides lay in the sun and eat fruit.) I’ve been motivated to write voluminously knowing the faster I fill my current journal, the sooner I get to pick out a new one. Not very zen, but there you have it.

When my journals are arranged in chronological order, you can clearly see the different phases I passed through in my journaling career. My earliest volumes are slender, one subject Mead “neatbooks” with flat, spiral-free bindings. When I realized I’d be keeping at this awhile, I started using beefy three-subject spiral-bound notebooks. Then I realized the spirals drove me batty and the scored pages would often tear, so I switched to the ubiquitous marble hardcover composition notebooks.

Through the years, my choice of writing instrument has likewise evolved, and for the past 10 years or so I’ve been using a Pilot Precise V7 fine point pen. In fact, it’s all I use. But this pen requires a certain kind of paper, because the ink is bold and bleeds through easily. Most drugstore quality notebooks won’t do, unless I only write on one side of the paper. Luckily I discovered Claire Fontaine notebooks.

Claire Fontaine makes the most beautiful notebooks I’ve ever seen. They’re French, so the sizes are different from the U.S. standards, making them even cooler. The large notebooks are taller than American letter size. And Claire Fontaine puts out such gorgeous colors and patterns. A few years ago they started making hardcover notebooks with magnetic flaps to secure the pages. Brilliant.

One day I was cruising the University Bookstore, which has a mind-boggling selection of notebooks. While searching the newest Claire Fontaine patterns, I accidentally happened upon a misplaced Blueline A9 hardcover notebook. I promptly bought a case of them and never looked back. I’ve been using them exclusively for about 3 years.

Why I Love Blueline Notebooks

How do I love thee, Blueline notebook? Let me count the ways:

1. Perfectly sized

The Blueline A9 is similar in size to the generic composition notebook, though slightly narrower. It has 192 pages, which means I can finish it in a manageable period of time without feeling like I’m dragging ancient history around with me. (Three months is about as long as I like to spend in one notebook.)

Its smaller size and light weight make it easy to stash into any bag I own and take with me anywhere. This is not true of the huge Claire Fontaine hardcover notebooks I favored for awhile. Those required a backpack or large messenger bag – almost like a laptop.

2. Reasonably priced

I buy these by the case, so I get a discount. But they’re usually about $7 a piece. Based on the high quality of these notebooks and the amount of enjoyment I get from them, I consider that a bargain.

3. Extremely durable

The binding is very well made; I’ve never had one of these notebooks even think about coming apart. Unlike many of my drugstore variety comp books.

The cover also takes a beating. I can attest to this as I dropped a notebook off my Vespa while riding 45 m.p.h. and it survived, with nary a scratch.

4. High quality paper

The paper used in the notebook is heavy and rich. My Pilot V7 Precise fine point pen ink doesn’t bleed through. And the surface of the paper has a great toothy texture that makes it comfortable to write on and difficult to smudge. The paper is available lined, blank, or quad-ruled.

5. It has an INDEX!!!

When it comes to archiving my journals, I’m so anal-retentive it’s not even funny. The Blueline A9 has an index page that allows you to make a color-coded Table of Contents. It also includes a sheet of labels for the cover and spine, as well as – get this – color-coded tabs to mark off the content!

The Index has become my very favorite part of the journals, and it truly makes them personalized. I frequently use phrases cut out of magazines to make the table of contents – quotes and phrases that capture where I am at that time. I don’t usually create the tabs until I’m done with the notebook, but I often make the TOC up as I go along.

6. Archive-friendly

Each sheet in the notebook has a spot for the date and the page number. This comes in handy more often than I would have believed. It’s cake to flip through if I’m looking for a specific date. And if you want to be super OCD, you can use the page numbers in your TOC as detailed above.

7. They look really awesome all lined up

Once you start accumulating multiple journals, you may find like me that you get satisfaction from seeing them piling up on the shelf. Seeing your progress is motivating. And it appeals to my anal-retention to see a long row of glossy, hardcover notebooks with color-coded spines on my shelf.

You can order these fantabulous Blueline Notebooks on Amazon. Free shipping if you buy 4 of them!

Have a favorite type of notebook? Let me know what it is so I can check it out!


  1. This notebook looks great! I wish it already had dates printed on it tho, as I discovered that I like using planners as my journal, with pre-printed dates already. 😀 That way I can keep track and if I have nothing to write that day, I jsut stick in a nice picture or quote I found that day. 🙂

  2. As you, I love to write !
    I would like to try your favorite notebook but amazon don’t want to send it in France ^^ !

    Personally, I use moleskine A5 lined. It’s my favourite ! But, i recentrly dicover the new brand Whitelines and I love their A5 format too !

    Nice article & blog 🙂

  3. Woot! I am off to check these out. They look PERFECT! How do they stand up to mixed-media, though?

  4. I too use a Blueline A9 and a Pilot V7 combo. You should know that the previous version of the A9 was even better, but I can’t find them anymore. I last bought a bunch of them about 6 years ago and I just ran out. I bought the new A9 on amazon and am in mourning at the (admittedly small) changes they made. Funny to complain about something like that but I have been journalling with A9s since the late 80s. It’s literally the one thing that has stayed constant in my life. Until now.

  5. I’m still in my testing phase … right now somewhat torn between Zequenz and Alwych, though I also like a hardcover like the Leuchtturm1917.

    I actually prefer a pocket format but right now I’m thinking of something in between pocket and A5 – Zequenz does have a middle size, as does Alwych …
    I did like middle sized CIAK as well, but it was a little too heavy to carry around with me – and I have to, I use my notebook as one in all – it is organizer, calendar, journal all wrapped into one with a lot of refering from one page to another (calender March has a date with a doctor, an arrow and a number next to that – pointing to the page where I made my notes preparing for the visit: questions to ask, observations to share, etc.).

    I must admit though, when I write with my 3mm Pentel slicci, my handwriting tends to be significantly smaller than with a fountain pain, so I tend to get more writing space out of a pocket notebook than a lot of other people.

  6. I was just looking for Blueline’s on Amazon, to try it out since you highly recommend them and they come in a pack of 5 as well for 35.45 which qualifies for free shipping!

  7. Where can I get these notebooks – I live in Italy and Amazon,.com won’t ship them out to me and amazon uk don’t do them? Love them 🙁

  8. I picked up one of these books on your enthusiastic recommendation and wow! I wish I had found these a long time ago. Not only am I always indexing and writing page numbers, but I stick dates of use on the spine, etc. This book comes ready to rumble.

    My question is: where do you find cases of these? I can definitely see needing to buy these by the case.

  9. You really make me want to buy one, like right now. My favorite notebooks are the Peter Paupers from peterpauper.com. They don’t have indexes like the bluelines, but they do have really thick paper in a kind of white-yellowish color and they come in different sizes. I find them very beautiful and not too expensive either.