Most things Harry Potter are quite expensive for what they are and often times price is no guarantee of quality so with this in mind I set out to see if I could find some good quality Harry Potter notebooks that are affordable. When I say affordable, I mean not just affordable to add to a collection but affordable enough to use and replace.
It’s a fine line but what we would consider a reasonable price to pay to add an item to a collection is usually far higher that we would consider paying for a disposable item; and to all intents and purposes a notebook is a disposable item. We use them and either archive or dispose of them but however we use them they have a shelf life.
The Idea for this review came about when I bought the Harry Potter 2019 Weekly Planner as part of the recent review ‘A Tale Of Five Planners’ and I realised that it is possible to buy good quality Harry Potter notebooks for a reasonable price.
Now before we go any further, I have to warn you that this is a long review, well in fact it’s really four reviews in one so settle in and get comfortable as this may take a while. If, however, you don’t have time today to read everything but just want a quick synopsis scroll to the end of the reviews and you will find a ‘Quick Review Table’; it’s the first time I’ve included one of these so if you do use it and it’s useful please let me know.
So, anyway getting back to why we are here, I set myself a rough 10 GBP/USD/Euro limit and decided to see what I could get for the pennies. I decided to use Amazon as they hold the widest range of Harry Potter goods and there is the benefit of customer reviews as a starting point. The plan was to find a mixture of notebooks in different sizes all that have good reviews but were not from the most well-known brands e.g. Moleskine. Finally, I settled upon the following:
- A5 Harry Potter “The Marauders Map” Notebook by Pyramid International £4.68 / $6.03 / €5.30
- Harry Potter: Gryffindor Ruled Notebook by Insight Editions £5.75 / $7.41 / €6.51
- Harry Potter Spells Pocket Notebook Collection (Set of 3) by Insight Editions £7.99 / $10.29 / €9.05
- Harry Potter Notebooks (A5 Set of 2) by Paladone £5.75 / $7.41 / €6.51
Assessment of each was based upon build quality, quality of materials, ease of use, ink test and appeal.
In the case of the last point I was not only considering it from the point of view of a purchaser but also does this have appeal as a gift; as many items like these will be given as gifts to Harry Potter fans.
The Marauders Map Notebook by Pyramid International
This one surprized me when I opened the Amazon box and found another box type package inside and inside this was The Marauders Map Notebook; I have to say I was impressed that this much care had been taken for a modestly priced notebook.
The notebook itself is A5 with double wire binding and an elastic closure; both the elastic and the wire bind are a very nice deep red that compliments the design and colouring of the covers. The front cover depicts a section of the map whilst the back-cover states that “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”Both of the covers are produced and finished to a very high standard. The inner side of the covers is lined with a muted red paper covered in shields and stars. The large square holes in the covers match up with those punched in the paper and because they are generously sized it allows the pages to be folded over and lay flat.
The paper used is cream and lined; the line spacing is approximately 7mm, so pretty standard. What I like about this is the lines are printed using a red ink that matches the wire binding and the elastic and, in the bottom, left or right dependent upon which page you are working on are the words “Mischief Managed”.It’s little touches like this that set this notebook apart from the everyday versions where it’s a cover stapled to a generic notebook.
Next came the ink test. Given the price I wasn’t expecting fantastic results so as I generously applied the Diamine Oxford Blue, I did wonder how it was going to look but I needn’t have worried as there was absolutely no bleed through and it is barely visible on the reverse side; so, kudos to Pyramid for using good paper.
Overall, this is a good quality notebook that should please any Harry Potter fan and at its current price point it more than meets my affordable criteria.
Harry Potter: Gryffindor Ruled Notebook by Insight Editions
There is a version of this notebook for each of the four Hogwarts school houses, Hogwarts itself and the Deathly Hallows so there is something for everyone. Starting with the outside the notebook arrives in shrink wrapped plastic with a paper band around it’s middle. The cover is very tactile having a leather design finish to it and both the front and back have a frame design in what looks like gold foil and embossing; the embossing is just that but what it does is give the appearance of a deeper red than the cover.
On the front is the Gryffindor crest which, like the frame, is nicely executed in gold foil, on the rear, other than the frame, Insights have stamped their name in the lower centre of the frame.
The inner side of the covers, both front and rear, have a Gryffindor paper that, to me, looks inspired by the house flag. As you open the front cover you are greeted by a “Property Of” page and when you turn this page you have a page with a short history of the house and of Professor McGonagall, Harry, Hermione and Ron.
Now we are past the covers you get 128 pages, ruled at approximately 6mm of archival paper; for anyone unfamiliar with this, it is acid free paper that is intended to last a very long time. Finally, you get a promise from Insights that they will plant two trees for every tree used in the manufacturing of their notebooks.
The pages are a white paper and the lines are printed in light to medium grey and the pages are then stitched into segments and glue bound to the cover.
When I ink tested this notebook, I was very heavy handed with the ink, Oxford Blue again, and after letting it dry there was no bleed through at all and very little show through so both sides of the page are usable. If I had a wish list for this notebook it would be an elastic closure like the hard cover version and some perforated pages.
I have to say I am becoming a bit of a fan of Insight Editions I have been very impressed with this notebook and the Harry Potter Planner I am working with at the moment. The value for money is excellent and at the price I paid I am thinking about either buying the set or maybe more Gryffindor notebooks.
Harry Potter Spells Pocket Notebook Collection (Set of 3) by Insight Editions
I know I said I am becoming a bit of a fan of Insight Editions but when I ordered the set of three, I didn’t realise they were another Insight product; they were bought on basis of ‘that looks good’ and nothing else.
In this range Insight produce three different sets of three pocket notebooks; the one I am looking at is the Spells set and there is also a Diagon Alley set and a Wanted Posters set.
What you get is a pack of three well-made pocket notebooks, that easily exceed the quality of some of the major brands. Each notebook has three stitched sections that are then glue bound to their covers (see image below); in this pack I received a plain, lined and grid paper notebook.
Where these notebooks really shine is the quality of the materials and the standard of finish, the outer covers are embossed with their individual designs and the inner side of the covers are printed with a design relating to their spell. My favourite of the three is the ‘Spells & Charms’; for whatever reason Insight chose this one to be a little something better. On the front cover is a circular wheel of spell and charm wand movements and on the rear is a list of the spells and charms. The outer cover is made in a leather effect finish and this one has additional printed flyleaves.
I’ve ink tested one of them at random and there was the merest hint of bleed through but bear in mind I was, again, very generous with the Oxford Blue; as for writing no problems and almost no show through. All in all, I would class these as fountain pen friendly and unless your pen is a real gusher you should have nothing to worry about.
Probably the only thing I would like to see added to these notebooks is a few perforated pages either at the front or the back.
Would I buy these again, definitely, they are great pocket notebooks. I think at this price they represent excellent value for money; and whilst you might be able to find less expensive alternatives you won’t get the same quality.
Harry Potter Notebooks (A5 Set of 2) by Paladone
The first thing I have to own up to is when I bought these, I thought they were pocket size notebooks; my own fault for not paying closer attention to the listing. However, a pocket-sized set would be very nice; currently Paladone only list the A5 version on their website.
The notebooks arrive bound together with elastic and each of them has a different spell on the front, but both have the spell and charm wheel on the rear and helpfully next to each spell or charm on the wheel is its name.
They are stitch bound and then glued to their covers and the inner side of the covers and the fly leaves are printed black with wand movements for each spell or charm in white.
Each page has been printed in light grey to look like parchment and layered onto this is a watermark style layer of wand movements and finally it is ruled in a slightly darker grey at approximately 10mm. What was impressive about these notebooks was the ink test, not a hint of bleed or show through despite my generosity with the ink so definitely fountain pen friendly.
The only downside I found with these notebooks was the covers; the type of card stock used for the covers scuffs very easily, you can see, on mine, where the elastics have been and where it has rubbed against the packaging. If Paladone had used a plain black or differently finished card stock rather than the stock they chose this might not have been a problem.
Other than the problem with the cover these are well made good quality notebooks and the thought that went into the design of the pages is something that should please any Harry Potter fan.
Finally, the question remains did I find the affordable note books I was looking for?
Yes, and I was very pleasantly surprized with quality of the notebooks I bought, all of them exceeded my expectations and I do believe they are all good quality and represent excellent value for money.
Of those reviewed would I recommend any of them?
Tough question to answer. Each notebook has its merits and from each I could pick different features to combine into a single notebook, but that is a discussion for another day.
So, as it is my job to make a recommendation here it is. Whether you are buying for yourself or as a gift for someone else I would recommend the Insight notebooks; they are excellent quality, very competitively priced and they offer a range that should mean there is something for every Harry Potter fan.
Quick Review Table
Disclaimer:All of the notebooks were purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.
All prices given were those paid at the time of ordering.
Currency conversions courtesy of Google and correct at time of writing – 20thJan.’19