The Maker’s Notebook from O’Reilly

The staff over at O’Reilly Media‘s magazines, Make and Craft, asked around to see what features The Ultimate Notebook would include. The result is their newly published Maker’s Notebook. “Clearly, lots of DIYers dream of designing their own project notebooks. We incorporated as many ideas from this Notebook Braintrust as possible,” explains Gareth Branwyn, friend and contributing editor to Make. Well, being the journaling, notebook geek that I am, I got my hands on a copy as soon as I could.

Stocked with extras, the Maker’s Notebook comes with everything you see here:

That’s two sticker sheets, a heavy duty rubber band (for holding stuff in that’s not written on or stuck to the pages), an attached bookmark ribbon, one-hundred-fifty pages of 1/10″ graph-ruled, 60# paper (not shown, obviously), twenty pages of reference material (a few of which are shown below), and an intentionally blank(ish), heavy duty hardcover.

“The front and back covers of the Maker’s Notebook are a debossed white grid on a cyan blue background,” says Gareth. “We intentionally left the covers ‘blank’. The grid design is begging you to storyboard it with your own art.” Like most notebook covers, this one does beg to be arted-up.

Other than the fact that the paper doesn’t pass The Sharpie Test (drawings done with Sharpie markers bleed through, in spite of O’Reilly’s claims to the contrary), the only flaw I can find in this uber notebook is the twenty-dollar price tag and all that comes with that.

I often find myself crippled creatively by notebooks that seem too nice, too pristine for my hurried scribbles or half-formed thoughts. I’m not alone in this (Jennifer New talks with journal keepers about the problem in the introduction to her book Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art), and I even wrote a little verse about it (incidentally, in one of my standard-issue, single-subject spiral-bounds):

From the page I feel a lot of pressure,
And I treat it like it’s too precious
Like there’s an audience saying, “Okay, impress us.”
But it’s not true, it’s just my impression.

The well-crafted, well-engineered design of the Maker’s Notebook might find me hesitating when I need it to help me most.

My notebook neurosis aside, O’Reilly has made a damn fine effort toward making The Ultimate Notebook. If you’re looking for a hardbound, papered companion that will work as hard as you on a hacking, building, crafting, making project, you may have just found your perfect coworker.


Here are a few of the reference pages: