If you’ve been looking for a dot grid notebook for a while you’ve probably come across a ton with stitched binding that does not lay flat (so annoying). So when I stumbled across the Northbooks notebook that has special exposed stitching that means the notebook does lay flat I decided to purchase and see if it was actually true.
- A5 page size
- 90GSM paper
- Stitched binding
- Black or grey cover only (no personalisation)
- Cardstock cover
- No future log, index page or key
- Some notebooks from Northbooks have numbered pages, others don’t
- No pocket folder
Price $12 – $20 USD (can purchase in bundles with multiple notebooks to reduce the cost of each notebook) + shipping
I purchased 2 different versions – the lay flat and the A5 softcover.
LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK!
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
The covers are different on both versions. The A5 softcover is thin bendy cardstock, the A5 with the exposed stitching has a cardstock cover too, but it’s thicker and not as bendy.
The softcover wouldn’t lay flat on it’s own no matter how many times I tried to break the spine. As you can see the paper looks the same in both. The softcover doesn’t have page numbers, while the black cover notebook does.
You can see the difference in the notebooks – can’t even see the stitching on the lay flat!
A5 Lay Flat
Unfortunately the page numbers are in the grid so you lose the bottom 2 dots.
It really does lay flat no matter where in the notebook you open it! <3
Definitely doesn’t lay flat – I had to hold it open with one hand just to take a photo. This was after trying to break the spine for a few minutes too,
I didn’t do close up photos, but there is inconsistent dot placement printing. I.e can see the edges of a row of dots at the top of the page on some of them. If you do a quick flick through, the dot placement on the side of the notebook is inconsistent too.
After trying the usual array of gel, fine tip and ballpoint pens I came to the conclusion that the paper quality is…
Every pen had ghosting or bleed through. So much that it took 2 pages in addition to the back of the page I wrote on, before I didn’t see the ghosting anymore.
Pros of Northbooks Notebooks
- Compact page size (7 x 10″ also available)
- The special binding of the black cover version really does lay completely flat
Pros of Northbooks Notebooks
- Bad paper quality
- Not all notebooks have page numbers
- The softcover doesn’t lay flat
Would I use these notebooks?
Love the lay flat stitching, but the paper is way too thin. It’s only 90GSM which means it takes about 3 pages to not see pen ghosting anymore. I would use this notebook purely because of the lay flat feature, but if you don’t want to write on the back of pages you’ll lose about a third of the notebook.
The A5 softcover is a definite no for me. The cover material and the spine are not strong enough for the pages to lay flat on their own without holding them open with one hand. No matter how many times I tried to ‘break’ the spine the pages would not lay flat. Maybe they would after some use or if a dictionary is placed on top for a period of time. But with so many dot grid notebooks to choose from nowadays, I’m not going to battle with it. The whole notebook feels very ‘homemade’ and not very good quality.
Quite a contrast between the 2 notebooks!
More dot grid notebook reviews
- Pretty dot grid notebooks for bullet journaling (roundup)
- Kikki K Grid Journal Review
- Artist’s Loft Dot Grid Journal Review
Bullet journal spreads
- Setting up a new month in my bullet journal (minimalist style)
- Bullet journaling in the Scribbles that Matter Notebook (is it worth the hype?)
- Bullet journaling on black paper with white & gold pens
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