Buying notebooks …

Well, I’m trained as a scientist and engineer, so I keep a notebook. This is something I have done religiously since I was in grad school, much to my wife’s dismay.

Since 1991 I have loved the National brand Chemistry Notebook (number 43-571), but National was bought a few years ago and the new owners cut a stupid corner by reducing the notebook from 128 pages to 120. Worse yet, this notebook has become rather expensive to buy, costing upward of $10 per book. The pages are still numbered for me, but the reduction from 128 to 120 remains an irritant. national-brand-43-571-chemistry-notebook

So, when I recently changed jobs and, at the same time, ran out of notebooks I decided to switch to the Clairefontaine 9542C.  This is a smaller notebook with paper that is slightly more opaque and quadrille ruled 5×5 to the inch.

9542C_3

Oddly, despite the fact that it is made in France and described with metric dimensions (14.8 cm x 21 cm) the ruling is specified as 5×5 to the inch.  I agree that this is a convenient grid size for technical notebooks, but is there no metric ruling that matches?  0.5 cm comes to mind, since that would end up very close to 5×5 to the inch, since 5 x 0.5 cm is 2.5 cm, and 2.54 cm is an inch.  Perhaps it is marketed as 0.5 cm square grid in Europe but as 5×5 to the inch in the US?

Anyway, I needed to buy some more of these notebooks.  Normally I pick them up from a stationery store near my apartment, but that is inconvenient and expensive.

I tried looking for them on Amazon (amazon.com, to be precise).  While I can find them, it’s hard to tell which product is being sold because Amazon’s product information for these Clairefontaine notebooks is dreadful.  And they’re expensive.

After being frustrated by the unusually low quality of Amazon’s offerings I tried searching Google for “clairefontaine 9542c”.  To my surprise, I found an amazon.de page near the top of the organic results.  Even more of a surprise was the fact that it was offering five of these lovely notebooks for about 10 euros, or only a little bit more than I was paying for one in the US.

Not reading German I decided to try amazon.co.uk.  There I found these notebooks, again better described, priced at ten pounds for a package of five.  I ordered two packages.  Even with shipping to the US these notebooks come out at about half the price that I pay for them in the US.