Notebook Review: Moo Notebook


Moo-ve over, Moleskine. Moo is about to show you a thing or two about how notebooks are supposed to be done.

Moo Notebook presentation box

Moo Notebook

First. Let’s talk about presentation and packaging. Now, normally, I’m not much for a lot of packaging because its usually stuff I have to either store or throw away especially in regards to fountain pens and that tends to be a lot of material that is not reusable or recyclable. In regards to notebooks though, a nice presentation box is something that is both recyclable and reusable. Moo is notorious for packaging that often lives long after all the business cards, postcards, or other paper ephemera has been distributed. I still have my original business card box from my first order of business cards that I use to transport cards to and from events almost a decade later. So, yeah for an awesome box.

Moo flyleaf on notebook

Moo Notebook and Slipcase


Next, for about the same price as a Moleskine notebook, the Moo notebook ships with a notebook and a slipcase. Now your notebook will have some amazing presentation on the shelf after its filled with your thoughts and ideas. Will my scribbles be worthy of a slipcase still remains to be seen, but having that option is certainly something that makes the Moo notebook more valuable than the average notebook.

colored pages in Moo Notebook

colored pages in Moo Notebook

Then there’s the colored pages in the center of the Moo notebook that provides a visual division between the front and back half of the book as well as blank pages for drawing, collage, and other purposes I haven’t thought of yet.

Tear and remove bellyband on Moo Notebook

Upon removing the bellyband on the Moo Notebook, there is a self-adhesive pocket that can be adhered into the notebook for business cards and other small ephemera.

note on reverse of bellyband on Moo Notebook


moo notebook pocketMoo coptic binding

But wait, I haven’t talked about the wicked, coptic, lay-flat binding. The cover opens flat, away from the spine to show the exposed binding, which is both aesthetically cool and functionally useful allowing the cover to open more fully. In the marketing materials, Moo expressly states that this binding method makes the notebook lay flat more easily which is better for left-handed writers. You know how to win my heart, Moo.

colored pages in Moo Notebook

Ribbon bookmark Moo Notebook

Oh, wait. I forgot to mention, they even thought to finish the edge of the ribbon bookmark so it doesn’t fray. And at the bottom of the box is a coordinating pencil, pre-sharpened with an inspiring message to get you going. Yeah. They thought of everything.

Moo Pencil in box


Seriously, at this point, even if the book has paper as crappy as your average Moleskine, its still leaps and bounds better at $20 than a Moleskine. If you’re looking for a great gift idea for someone who likes to write, do a little doodling or just likes beautiful things, this would make a perfect holiday gift. Just go order one. Go on… I’ll wait.

Lined paper and lay-flat binding in Moo Notebook

Now, let me tell you about my pen and pencil tests.

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper

I tested both the writing paper and the green blank paper. The information about the papers on the website list the white paper as Swedish Munken Kristall paper. There’s 160 pages and its lightly lined.

I decided not to hold back. I figured I’d throw the kitchen sink at this notebook and then accept my fate. Would it stand up to a bevy of brush pens or an assortment of fountain pens? Yup. Gel pens, rollerballs and even pigment-based Faber-Castell brush tip permanent pens. Yeah, some of the brush pens showed through but I was asking a lot but the paper withstood a lot more than I thought it would. And there was very little bleed through. There was no feathering issues on the right side of the paper and most pens dried in a reasonable amount of time which meant I wasn’t smudging my writing. If you really want to use both sides of the paper, stick to fine line pens, gel pens, pencils and fountain pens with lighter, drier inks.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the lines but they are light enough enough that the fact that they didn’t bleed to the edge of the page of to the spine did not end up bothering me.

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper reverse of stock

Pen & Pencil tests Moo Notebook white paper reverse of stock

Then I decided I’d use the green G . F Smith’s Colorplan Park Green paper for drawing (as recommended by the web site) and it held up to an assortment of pens, pencils and markers with no issues. There’s some nice tooth to the paper which was nice with both graphite and colored pencils. Even my Copic Sketch markers worked well but they did bleed through but only to the back of the paper and not to the next sheet. There wasn’t even show through of any of the other tools. The colored paper also made it possible to use opaque white gel pens for accent which was fun. It definitely reminded of how much I enjoyed using the Field Notes Sweet Tooth editions this summer. I almost want a whole book full of the Colorplan paper not just 16 pages.

Moo Notebook paper tests Color Plan Park green stock

I did some snooping and the Colorplan paper is either the 80#/120gsm or 91#/135gsm, in case you are curious about the specifics. I couldn’t narrow down exactly the weight of the Munken Kristall paper other than to establish its the Arctic line and its probably the 120gsm.

Moo Notebook paper tests Color Plan Park green reverse of stock

What’s the downside? The Moo notebooks are covered with grey fabric book cloth which look fabulous but, in my world, is a cat hair magnet of epic proportions. And it will probably have coffee and tea stains on in a New York minute. And ink stains. And a bit of mustard, at least I think that’s mustard. Best not to ask. Maybe I’m just accident prone and messy but if you’ve met me at a pen show, my fingers are perpetually ink-stained so its not a stretch to think my notebooks aren’t also likely to suffer a similar fate. The Moo notebook also does not have a big secretary pocket for holding larger ephemera like postcards, mail and meeting notes.

These are not make-or-break issues for me but I would like to see Moo add an option for an edition of the notebook with the same exterior material as is used on the slipcase as an option and I’d love an add-on adhesive pocket like the business card pocket that is larger and could be added onto orders for other ephemera. I love that Moo is moving into notebooks and I look forward to seeing what else they will do, especially after seeing how exceptional this notebook is.

The Moo Notebook is available directly from Moo for $19.99.

CLARIFICATION: The special black box packaging with the pencil is for the MOO notebook launch ONLY. Any notebooks purchased from the website will not include the pencil and outer black box. MOO includes just the hardcover notebook and the slipcover. I apologize for any confusion. It’s still an awesome product and far and away a better deal at $19.99 than other similarly-sized and priced notebooks.

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

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15 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I saw this on the MOO website and have been anxiously awaiting a review. Thank you for shouldering the burden for us.There may just be a notebook included in my next MOO order.

    1. The cover book cloth is a bit silkier than the Baron Fig material and the paper is accepting of a lot more materials, I think anyway. Also, the paper holds ink better. I did some side-by-side tests against the Vanguard which has the same paper stock as the Confidant and posted the results on Flickr. The most notable differences were how the TWSBI Eco with Sailor ink and the Lamy with J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre got notably different results. Hope that helps.

  2. I’ve been waiting for a good review of the MOO notebook — thank you!!

    One question — how does it handle fountain pens with sheen, like EoC? Thanks!

    1. I’ve uploaded a few images on Flickr of some additional pen tests for you to check out hoping that it will help out. I had Caroube de Chypre loaded in my Lamy with a 1.1mm nib. It was pretty dark so I wasn’t able to get a lot of the sheen or sparkle to show in the photos but the paper was able to handle the ink just fine with minimal bleeding despite my using it to color in the letterforms. I also tested several Oster inks in my pen tests that have some sheen to them and, again though its hard to get them to show up in my photos, they show up just fine in person. It’s not as apparent as it is on paper like Tomoe River but there’s also not the extensive dry time either.

  3. Thanks for the great review. I hadn’t realized that Moo was Makhija my these books now. I love the idea of using the packaging (box) afterwards, to store other items at home or on my desk. Now if only they could offer a dot grid, it’s far and away my favourite paper ruling. Once I’m through with my current notebooks, , I’ll have to give this one strong consideration.

    1. I’ve sent a list of questions over to their PR dept. including whether they are hoping to offer other page layout options. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you all know but I think they are already happy to hear the good reception to the overall look and feel of the notebooks so hopefully that is a good sign that they will continue to pursue other stationery products.

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