The folks at Productive Luddite sent me a massive pile of notebooks to try and share with you. When I mean massive, I mean MASSIVE. The Freestyle Really Big Notebook is letter-sized and features 800 pages. So they are serious when they say “REALLY BIG”. The Matte Black Action notebook features ten different styles of paper in ONE BOOK. So, its a complicated task to review — its like reviewing a dozen notebooks.

I decided the only way to give each notebook its proper due is to split the review into two parts. First up is the New Daily Planner ($8.99) and the Matte Black Action Notebook($9.95).


The New Daily Planner is an interpretation of the Chronodex-style daily planner. It’s a soft cover, perfect-bound, 6″x9″ with 104 bright white pages. The cover is a gloss black cardstock with bold white lettering.


Inside, on the first two pages are places to include your personal information and instructions on using the clockwork-style planning system.


The first few pages include monthly and yearly planning on a clock which I am not sure how useful that would be but the rest of the book is daily clockwork pages. Because of the perfect binding, the book does not lay flat easily but the soft cover means that its easy to fold the cover back if you prefer to work that way.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I tested an assortment of pens in planning out my day. There is some bleeding with fountain pens on the paper but rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils and gel pens all performed well. The paper is thick enough that with non-fountain pens, there was no show through on the reverse side of the page.

Productive Luddite New Daily Planner

I use a lot of fine and exra fine nibbed fountain pens so you can see that the ink does spread. As cool as the planning calendar is, this notebook definitely requires a specific set of writing tools for best results. I think I’ll pair it long-term with one of my multi-color gel pens like the Zebra Prefill or Uni Style-Fit so I have lots of color options and no need to worry about bleed, show through or squishy-looking writing. I might assign specific colors to specific sorts of tasks: blue for work, green for blog, red for home, etc.


The Matte Black Action notebook has a matte soft-touch coating on the cover. I believe my husband’s exact words (as a printer) was “matte aqueous soft touch coating on coated stock”. Thank you , Mister Specific. The bottom line is it gives the book a pleasing feel similar to the finish on the Field Notes Drink Local Colors Edition. Inside the book is 100 ivory-colored pages in ten different form factors including blank, lined, grid, dot grid, and many more.


I tested the 8″x8″ sized notebook but the Matte Black Action Notebook is available in several other sizes if square is not your cup of tea.


Toward the back of the book is journal and list-making pages with grey printing to demarcate the header area from the rest of the page.


In the very front of the book is a page for personal information and pages to index or tag the pages in the book. This would be particularly helpful if you are using blank pages for sketching, list pages for to-dos and lined paper for writing — all for the same project. You can list the page tags in the front of the book to make it easy to find the various pages.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

All the pages have page numbers in the lower right hand corner unless you are a contrarian left-hander that flips the whole book upside down regularly to get the best writing angle (see above).

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

I tested most of the various paper styles. What I found quite exciting is that the paper was quite fountain pen friendly. I had no issues with bleeding, feathering or show through with any of the pens I tested. The paper did seem like it was slightly heavier than the white stock in the New Daily Planner so maybe that little extra weight made it epically more fountain pen friendly?

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The paper styles, though, seemed to have inconsistent line weights. I found that the dot grid dots seemed overly large for my tiny writing. I mostly wanted to play connect-the-dots with these pages. The graph paper lines seemed much heavier and darker than the plain lined paper. I quite liked the color and thickness of the lined paper which is at the front of the book so when I got to the grid and dot grid I was a bit disappointed.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

Towards the back of the book was reverse grid  and dot grid paper (grey with white lines) which I much preferred to the lines on the regular grid and dot grid.

Productive Luddite Matte Black Sampler Notebook

The great thing about the Matte Black Action Notebook is that its a great introduction to all the various forms that Productive Luddite offers in their Everyday Carry Notebook line.  All the EDC line notebooks are available in ten different sizes ranging from 4×6 up to 7×10 in horizontal, vertical, square and some variations. There are definitely lots of options!

With one $9.95 purchase, you have the chance to try all the form factors and determine which is your favorite. If you’re inclined to use some grid, some lined, some lists and so forth the Matte Black Action notebook may be the right choice for you.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Productive Luddite for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

6 Comments on Review: Productive Luddite Notebooks Part 1

  1. i find american notebooks not to take a much pride as the japanese do when it comes to grids and graphs. as always your reviews are such fun and for some reason i think you do it better than most other sites. i’m surprised you weren’t in anyway irritated by how the lines do not match up on the graph paper or even the dotted paper. i recently purchased unexposed field notes and was very disappointed when they arrived. the grid doesn’t line up and yes they are stapled but goodness it looked like someone ripped the tops of the bound bits and packed them into the black envelope. i’ve always used japanese products…quality, any pen ready and always always always amazing in presentation and quality (yes even 100yen shops). i love the 10 paper type notebook but seeing the lack of care in the final product – nyeh. i’d rather waste hard earned RM on yen.
    but your site….i love it. it’s a friend that keeps me company in my lonely travels – also you focus on ranges i don’t seem to see the fascination with and the more stationery lovers out there, the better!

  2. I am so looking forwards to finding out more about that massive one! And love the idea of the clockwork.
    The Action, though, isn’t my cup of tea. I got a notebook in Vietnam somewhere that turned out to cycle through different page styles, which was frankly unhelpful. It’d be nice to be able to try out different styles, though. I’m quite settled on ‘I know what I like and I like what I know’ at the moment.

  3. The New Daily Planner seems interesting. Might actually give that a try, since I’m always looking for new ways to improve my time management skills… and I do much better remembering things visually.

    Not a big fan of the other notebook. But that giant notebook – oh my goodness, definite want. 😉

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