Often, the reviews I write are after using a product for just a couple days or even a couple hours. However, I have been using the Kokoyu Systemic Fabric Notebook Cover in A5 size ($23) for several months now. This gives me the opportunity to talk through its real-life usability. It also means my photos show some of the wear, dust and cat hairs. I tried, I swear to get them off but since this notebook cover often sits on the arm of my couch, getting all the cat hair off is nigh impossible.
The Kokoyu Systemic notebook covers (other color options and materials are available) come with a double wire-o bound 50-page notebook that I have reviewed below. I bought the cover for use with other A5 notebooks. I was looking specifically for a cover that was non-leather. I have tried leather covers and wanted to find a good, non-leather alternative.
The Kokoyu Systemic (Ring Type) fabric cover and synthetic leather cover have a large slot pocket on the cover and back that is large enough to slide any mobile phone into it. There is also an elastic strap to hold the cover closed and another elastic loop to hold a pen. Inside the cover is a plastic sleeve for loose papers and cards as well as an ability to carry not one but TWO notebooks based on the construction (more photos and details below). If you are looking for a notebook to go from meeting to meeting or use in a conference setting (I realize this is not entirely relevant at the moment) then look no further.
Be advised, there is also the Basic Type which does not have quite as many bells and whistles.
As I transitioned from office work to work-at-home, the original configuration of my Kokoyu Systemic Notebook cover changed a bit. Initially, I kept a full-sized A5 Midori Cotton notebook for meeting notes and day-to-day to-do lists and a smaller A5 Midori Cahier notebook in the back for personal notes and lists like grocery lists, blog posts, things I needed to do at home, etc. It’s the stuff that popped into my head while sitting in a meeting that needed to be written down so I could get back to concentrating.
This is a view of the Kokoyu Systemic completely unfolded and showing the Cahier tucked on the back panel. The larger notebook is slipped into a plastic sleeve that is hinged to reveal the “hidden” notebook. The hinged portion can be folded back on itself so that the whole notebook cover does not occupy the entirety of your desk. Then the plastic sleeve of the top notebook is touching the table surface and not the front of your notebook. I find this handy in case I set this down on a sticky kitchen table or slightly wet beverage ring. I can wipe the plastic clean (probably sanitize it too with a Clorox Wipe, should the need arise).
I can even flip the lefthand cover back around as well to occupy the least amount of space. The Midori notebooks are flexible enough to make this relatively easy to do. At this point though, previously written pages will be touching the work surface. Users be warned.
The above photo shows the notebook unfolded to its full width — approximately 20″ (50cm) — but also reveal the three slot pockets on the back cover for storing business cards, credit cards, hotel key card or other small ephemera.
Did I mention built-in ribbon bookmarks? There are two: one for the notebook stored in the back slot and one for the book stored in the front slot. The edges are sealed to prevent fraying.
This last photo of the cover shows that dust, fuzz and cat hair is attracted to the woven, ripstop-style canvas. To be honest, the dust is more evident in the photo than in person.
As I’ve said before, I didn’t buy the notebook cover for the notebook and put it into a drawer as soon as the cover arrived choosing to use other A5 notebooks instead. But, for the sake of thoroughness, I figured I’d include details about the notebook.
It is a thin 50-page double wire-o notebook with uniquely Japanese lines and markings inside. The paper is a soft white, almost ivory and the lines and markings are printed in a light grey.
The line spacing is 6mm and then it is sub-divided by a slightly longer line every seven lines to create sections. At the far left is a diagonal line that can be used for the date or other dividable mark and the space between the lines and the margin can be used for a sub-header.
Across the top and bottom of the page are three tick marks allowing the page to be divided in half or quarters for to-do lists and other categories.
Overall, the paper was fairly fountain pen-friendly. There are some dots of bleedthrough on the reverse side of the paper but its pretty minor and a result of some of the wider, wetter nibs. Gel pens, brush pens, pencils, and felt tip all seemed to be fine on the paper with a little resistance to the brush pen ink. It appeared to bead up a little.
My overall impression of the Kokoyu Systemic notebook cover is excellent. I really like the cover. I’ve jammed tons of stuff into it over the last few months and forced it to move from a more social role to a more personal role. It now keeps a record of my various projects for the blog, shop, knitting and sewing as well as letters from friends, stickers and other items that clearly show I’m not a very mature adult. Should I ever find it necessary to “dress it up” again as a professional notebook cover, I think it will transition quickly and easily. As for the notebook, it’s adequate and the unique layout has some interesting functionality. For me, however, I tend to prefer fewer confines rather than more so it probably won’t get much use from me.