My current bullet journal is an A5 softcover Victoria’s Journal dotted notebook. It’s got 40 leaves / 80 pages of 80 gsm cream paper, which is sufficient enough for daily use but could use some improvements. Being a pretty thin notebook with thin pages, it’s a lot more susceptible to damage from everyday wear than, say, a hardbound dotted notebook like Scribbles That Matter or Leuchtturm1917.
As it is part of my EDC, I need it to last me the whole year, or at least until it runs out of pages. Being thrown into different bags every other day is not exactly conducive to its lasting me as long as I need it to. The solution? A sturdy notebook cover. This is where the Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover comes into play.
Truth is, this is just one of my many choices when I went looking for a suitable notebook cover. And by suitable, I mean there are a few specific things I needed for this.
So what exactly do I
want need in my notebook cover?
- A5-sized to fit my current BuJo. Also because this is my preferred notebook size in general.
- Made of sturdy material. ’nuff said.
- Closure, whether elastic or button doesn’t matter. The important thing is that the contents won’t fall out despite being lugged around everyday and thrown from bag to bag.
- Pockets for various doodads. Even with bags and pants, I tend to go for those with lots of pockets, big or small. But I digress.
- Not too bulky. Yes, despite the pockets I want because I’m ironic like that.
- Affordable. This goes for both notebook cover and shipping. Because I still have to, you know, eat.
Based on these rough specifications, I scoured the net for some [sorta] suitable covers online. Online because I live in the
boondocks province and my options are severely limited by the meager BuJo supplies available at the local bookstores. #promdifeels #sadlife
Anywho, these were my options:
- LIHIT LAB Refillable Notebook with Cover ($17.77 + $16.89 SF) – This fits the bill quite nicely, but I do not like how the front pocket protrudes so much. Also, that shipping fee though.
- Jacinto & Lirio Laro Customizable Planner (P909 + P99 SF) – On paper, it seemed perfect for my needs, and it’s pretty too. Bonus, it’s made by a local company. However, when I saw one of these in person at Fully Booked, it turned out to be much bulkier that what I wanted, and that’s still without the notebook.
- Alunsina Big Kislap Refillable Notebook (P1,800 + P140 SF) – This is a very classy leather notebook cover and it shows in the price. ’nuff said.
- Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover ($17.89 w/ free shipping) – Looks quite plain compared to the others but is just as functional, if not more.
- Cocoa Paper June Cover for A5 Thread-bound Journals (from $42.95 + $16 SF to US) – In terms of looks and functionality, this is a winner. However, they don’t ship to the PH so if ever, I’ll have to route my purchase to my BF in the US. Oh, and costs quite a bit as well.
- Customized leather notebook cover from Mrs. P’s (P2,000 + SF) – Another local leather goods artisan like Alunsina. I got a quotation for a notebook cover similar to the Cocoa Paper June cover, sans the fabric lining.
So why did I choose the Kokuyo?
It was really the free shipping to the PH that got me. Kidding. I did a whole bunch of research about each one of those options. I looked for their manufacturer’s official websites and/or social media accounts, read the reviews both on blogs and shopping sites, and hunted them down some more via image search. In the end, of the six notebook covers, it was the Kokuyo that had all the requisites I listed down earlier. And because I’m a lazy ass, here’s the description on the Amazon product page:
So I ordered this from Amazon on January 23, 2018 using my PayMaya VISA card. I didn’t encounter any problems, and the amount was promptly deducted from my load. It was actually less than I expected because of the conversion rate. I got an email notification a coupla days later (January 25) that the seller has shipped my order from Japan. There was no tracking number since it was shipped via regular post, so I was a bit nervous if it would get here on time, or if it would even get here at all. Not quite trusting the local Customs, but you can’t blame me for that. Anywho, it did arrive sealed and in one piece on February 20, 2018, well within the EDA of February 16 to March 12. Woohoo!
… and was it worth it?
Hell freakin’ yes! It was exactly as described in the Amazon product page. It arrived in its pristine plastic cover, with both notebook and notebook cover intact. The notebook is wirebound and ruled, which isn’t what I’m looking for for my next BuJo. It’s got very smooth pages though, so I’m not scrapping it.
As for the notebook cover itself, it was everything I needed and more. By its design, it could accommodate up to three (3) thin notebooks or notepads. I tried and succeeded in fitting the included notebook, my BuJo, and a Rhodia dot pad. It was a pretty tight fit, yet it wasn’t all that bulky when I closed the cover. Not bad at all. Like I said, I have no use for the included notebook as of yet, so the BuJo and pad alone in there have a bit more breathing room.
Aside from the slots for the pad and Bujo, there are also three (3) slots for cards inside, along with a bigger slot for the third notebook or bigger pieces of loose paper. There’s also a slightly elastic pen loop, as could be seen in the picture above. It seems sturdy and holds my pens well. I tried putting in a Pigma Micron, a Pilot Juice and a Tombow Fudenosuke and they all fit there nicely. Also included are two (2) thin ribbon bookmarks, of which I’m currently using only one. The other bookmark would be useful if I’d put in another notebook instead of the Rhodia pad on the left slot.
Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover when open (photo from Amazon)
The design of the left slot with the frosted plastic is such that either a side-bound notebook or a top-stapled notepad may be inserted into it. As it is, my Rhodia pad fit perfectly in it. They must have designed that with Rhodia pads in mind.
All in all, this is one of the best investments I made for my bullet journal journey. Its sturdy construction would make sure I can just throw it in my bag and not have to worry about my BuJo or papers getting bent or wrinkled. It looks discreet enough not to attract untoward attention either, so I can even just carry it around by itself without fearing that my stuff would fall out or get stolen.
One last thing though…
Now, having this would seem to necessitate me using another softcover notebook for my next bullet journal. My options right now are the Rhodiarama Dot and Lemome Softcover Classic Dot Grid Notebook. But to tell the truth, what I really want for my next BuJo is the Tekukor Dot Grid Hardcover Notebook. Hmmm… But I guess that’s a discussion for another time.
Thanks for reading!
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