Unboxing Panobooks

4 or 5 months ago, I came across the Panobooks Kickstarter and remembered the frustration I had when I first started my office job, balancing a notebook or tablet with a keyboard, trying to keep both in front of me, within easy reach and all. I tried small, top-spiraled notepads, turned on their sides, but they were ultimately unsatisfactory. And it was this memory, long ago solved, rather than some actual need or use case, that led me to back the project…

Last week, they arrived… designed in Austin and printed, bound, and shipped from Dallas, I got them quickly, and I’m really impressed.

They cover has a great feel to it, with a rubbery, almost a suede-like finish to it, it’s really lush. The paper stock is a nice weight, with a subtle dot pattern to it instead of lines, and layout marks for 3 16:9 boxes, and midpoint marks. I imagine these would be particularly useful to designers, and who knows: they might come in handy for photobook layout, though the format of the book itself is maybe a bit wide for that purpose. And the books come with a little slipcover, so when you’ve finished with them, they can line up pretty and labelled on a shelf.

The whole package exudes a quality feel, that makes the rather high price ($20… I can get 25 of the notebooks I use, with change leftover for that) seem worth it.

I have one quibble with them… The spiral. During the unboxing, while removing shrink-wrap from the first panobook, I bent a couple of loops very slightly. Now the book doesn’t open smoothly, the pages make that crinkly, ripping sound when I turn them, and I have to force it to flip the front cover around to the back. I’m afraid this is going to be a major point of failure for these and spirals are the reason I moved from spiral-bound to tape-bound notebooks about 10 years ago.

Also, and this isn’t a complaint so much as an observation, Panobooks feel special and fancy, and for $20, you don’t want to just fill them up with scribbled rants and doodles. Especially with sexy cover and the slipcase. At $3.50 for 5, I still have trouble messing up my Muji notebooks. Maybe that’s just me. Allahu Alim.

Purpose
Price
Craftsmanship
Ease of Use

I have no idea what I’ll use them for, and I half expect them to sit around until I find someone to gift them to that will have an actual use case for them. I’m sure they’re very useful to some, if a bit expensive, and they’re seemingly well-made. The only real problem with them is the danged spiral, so, overall, I’d give Panobooks 3.5 stars.

You can order Panobooks direct from StudioNeat. The best part about them, for me, is maybe how local they are to me. Studio Neat is out of Austin, but Panobooks are printed and assembled by the Odee Company in Dallas, and I’m all for supporting local businesses, so maybe give them a try if you’re in the market for some fancy landscape-format notebooks.

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