ANTOU Design Book NOTA Notebook review – customize your notes, endlessly

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CROWDFUNDING REVIEW – One notebook, endless possibilities. This is the value proposition presented by the NOTA ANTOU Design Book. This Kickstarter campaign is for a notebook system that lets you configure and control every aspect of your notebook setup, from paper to page templates. Let’s explore this unique design to record your brilliant thoughts. To the review!

What is that?

The ANTOU Design Book NOTA notebook is a customizable notebook system.

What’s in the box?

My test kit comes with all the components needed to customize a laptop:

  • recycled leather cover
  • 2 binders
  • Assorted Sample Pages
  • The A5 adapter kit
  • The punch to add pages
  • An EDC envelope

Your ANTOU Design Book NOTA Notebook kit will vary depending on the level of commitment you choose for the Kickstarter campaign.

Design and features

The Book NOTA Notebook is a DIY design that allows you to configure your notebook to your personal needs. It starts with a sturdy cover and a metal spine that serves as the foundation for your build.

My tester’s cover is made from a recycled leather composite that’s tough, flexible, and a little rough around the edges (in a nice, natural way). You can upgrade to a vegetable tanned leather cover, but I really like this material.

The spine of the notebook is supported by an inlaid cork strip for an elegant accent. An elastic cord and tab matching the fabric of the cover are mounted in the center of the spine…

… and is used to close the notebook once completed. The closed dimensions of the binder are approximately 227mm high and 166mm wide.

This base for your ANTOU Design Book NOTA notebook is now associated with binders to build your tailor-made solution. These binders are made from an aluminum alloy with a magnetic strip that runs across the back of the binder.

You have two options for completing your notebook. The first is to insert your pages into the binder as shown below.

You will then use the included silicone rubber bands to lock the pages in place.

Then you will snap your insert into place when the binder magnets connect to the back of the laptop.

One of the unique things about the Book NOTA Notebook is that you don’t have to buy proprietary paper to use it with the system. You get a punch tool with your kit that puts these end notches in any A5 size paper, or you can use A4 paper folded in half. The Book NOTA team even provides online templates for different paper sizes (grid print, weekly planners, to-do lists, etc.) that you can print, cut and punch to create the configuration you want.

Note that the binder will take up to 20 folded A4 pages or 40 individual pages at a weight of 100 GSM or less for a maximum of 40 pages per fill. They also recommend trimming A4 pages by about 20mm before folding and inserting them for a better fit.

The second option for paper is an A5 laptop adapter. You’ll start with the binder and silicone band from the previous examples, but this option adds a felt insert for the binder and an extra elastic cord.

The elastic cord is threaded around the felt insert, which then slips into the binder.

This insert is then locked with a silicone band and your laptop slides under the elastic cord.

This binder now snaps against the book spine with these magnets, and you’re ready to go!

You can use pre-made A5 notebooks for this or make your own from loose paper.

The ANTOU Design Book NOTA Notebook team also manufactures additional accessories like receipt pockets and bulk items and business card holders.

Performance

If you want to control every aspect of your notebook experience, you’ll find a lot to like about the Book NOTA Notebook. This system is a do-it-yourselfer’s dream come true, with endless configuration possibilities.

Here is an example of how I used it. I like to keep my notes separate from my to-do lists. I use the A5 notebook insert for my running notes…

…then I flip my notebook over to access my to-do list in the second section. I’m using graph paper here, but I could print to-do list templates, daily planners, etc.

I particularly like this setup because I use a rough variation of the bullet method for my note taking. I keep my running notes in one notebook and my collected to-do lists in the other.

The dual-notebook setup works very well in general, with plenty of room even for a third notebook if you had an extra binder. I would for some of the additional additions like the pocket pouch and card holders. The cover design also allows for fairly deep expansion.

I especially like how individual sheets can be pulled from the notebook on the fly. I’ve seen other rechargeable solutions that aren’t particularly safe. The paper falls. This anchor system is tight, but still allows you to quickly remove a page if you want to share pages.

I also appreciate the opportunity to bring my own paper to the party. You don’t need to pay premium for exclusive top-ups here. Choose your paper type, print your templates, and use the puncher to incorporate any paper into your book. I always play around with different formats to decide what I want to keep in my race kit.

I will note that the binder/back design has some good and bad points. Binders stay locked in place with these magnets, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out. But the design means you have multiple layers of stuff on the back of the notebook. Things aren’t quite flat, especially if you’re using two workbooks.

I have also noticed that A5 notebooks can float a bit. They’ll go in and out fairly easily, but they’ll move around as you open the book and settle in. You can remove the notebook to avoid some of these problems.

When I first started using the NOTA ANTOU Design Book, I found myself put off by some of these delicate elements. It was just a little weird for me. But after poring over it for several weeks, I found it to be a minor issue. You may need to make some adjustments to get your page to lay flat, and you may lose some of your page margins. But these issues are outweighed by the flexibility of the design.

I’m not worried about the build quality here either. I haven’t seen any wear on the core components so far. The construction is simple and extremely well done. I could see the silicone bands wearing out, but Book NOTA sells these components as replacements if you need them.

What I like

  • Infinitely configurable and rechargeable design
  • Bring your own paper and create your own page templates
  • Well built
  • Supports both loose paper and die-cut A5 notebooks

What I would change

  • Pages are not completely flat

Final Thoughts

After a first period of adaptation, I really enjoy my time with the NOTA ANTOU Design Book. The design is different and takes a bit of getting used to. But I’m really preparing for the possibilities of adding my own patterns and setups to the notebook to match my style of work, knowing that I can change things up as I experiment with new techniques.

If you like a big book with hundreds of pages for in-depth note taking, this probably won’t be your thing. But if you’re struggling to find a laptop that meets your specific organizational needs, that might just be your problem.

Price: Kickstarter pledges start at $115, which gets you the recycled leather cover and basic accessory set. Upgrades include options for vegetable tanned leather covers and matching accessory sets. You can also add individual accessories to your engagement.
Or buy: Kickstarter
Source: The sample of this product was provided by ANTOU Design.

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About Cecil D. Ramirez

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