Review: City & Premium Notebooks by Minimalism Art

My bullet journal starts in July, which is approaching fast! I’m trying to minimize purchases and am using any opportunity to save money. Though content with my current one, I do like changing it up… So, I bought Minimalism Art’s City Edition Journal on Amazon. I also had the opportunity to try their Premium Journal when they offered to send it to me after I’d joined their mailing list. Here is an honest review of the two journals.

PLEASE NOTE: Images may look a bit dark, as they’ve been left unaltered to reflect the true colors and opacity of the pages. I tried taking these photos in the best natural lighting I had available.

While structurally similar, they’re also very different.

First, the specs of these two specific journals by Minimalism Art (abbreviated as MA in this post). The underlined features point out their differences!

Premium Edition (Pink)

  • White, 120gsm, 240 numbered pages
  • 1 page (double-sided) Table of Contents
  • 2 bookmarks, pink & white w/ gold trim
  • A5 size, with Pink elastic closure strap
  • White flyleafs and expandable pocket
  • Hardcover leatherette gold logo design

City Edition (San Francisco)

  • Ivory, 120gsm, 234 numbered pages
  • 1 page (double-sided) Table of Contents
  • 1 bookmark, plain white
  • A5 size, with Brown elastic closure strap
  • Art-print flyleafs and expandable pocket
  • Hardcover linen art-print design
I love the San Francisco artwork for MA’s City Journal! It has a wrap-around design, but there are no repeated landmarks.
The brown elastic strap fits the color scheme & looks chic against the white background and little specks of greenery.  
Only 1 bookmark in the City Journal! I rarely use it, anyhow…

Miscellaneous Features

The City Notebook’s cover looks exquisite: the linen’s understated metallic sheen is pleasing to the eye. Inside, the flyleafs display matching artwork for continuity. The Premium notebook’s leatherette cover is nice to touch, it’s a smidge thicker, more protective, than the other.

An expandable pocket concludes both journals and they’re surprisingly generous at ~2cm at the widest. The expanding flap is dual-layered with paper on the inside, and a textured fabric-like material on the outside; it’s sturdier than other journals’ pockets I’ve felt. I won’t worry about ripping the pockets out accidentally.

Another common feature between both journals is a Table of Contents, which I’ve found somewhat lacking with only 1 double-sided page (two pages).

I was somewhat disappointed, but not necessarily surprised; many other journals around this price range, between $12~$15 USD, do not include a TOC or numbered pages at all—MA’s Premium & City Edition Journals have both.

No matter how limited, I’m glad that this budget-friendly journal includes a built-in TOC… although, I’d love if they offered more pages for it in future journals. *hint~hint*

So far, I love all of these features. But most importantly, how is the page quality?

What page belies this adorable, San Francisco-inspired artwork? Owners can write their names and addresses on this
front endpaper… however, for safety reasons, one should always write an email address instead of physical address!!

Page Quality

As I’ve described previously, the Premium has true white pages while the City has ivory pages (above photo). The above picture is slightly bit dark but in the next few photos, you can see a true reflection of the City’s ivory pages. 

You can very clearly read ‘test page’ on the
Premium Notebook from the backside!

Using Crayola Supertips, I tested the same three colors. You can see that the City’s ghosts less than the Premium’s. The Premium papers are thick to prevent bleeding, but they seem to be rather opaque and transparent. Similar reviews on Amazon report the same thing for the Premium Notebook.

It may appear that the City ghosts badly too, but it looks extreme due to lighting. See the photo below comparing the City’s paper quality (right) to Rhodia’s Goalbook (left).

Compared to Rhodia Goalbook, MA’s City Edition ghosts less and is brighter than Rhodia’s creamy 90gsm paper. I liked the Goalbook’s generous TOC and layouts, but the paper’s opacity and very yellow tint have bothered me while using it.

While I’m rather happy with City’s notebook’s pages—and I’ll be using the San Francisco edition come July—I was curious why the Premium didn’t have the same paper! I took to asking customer service: Will future Premium notebooks switch over to the same paper as the City’s?

This was their answer below:

Hopefully, by the end of next month, their Premium Notebooks will have the same quality paper—although it may take some time for Amazon to sell out of older notebooks. Amazon may or may not distinguish if the items in the listing are the old or new version, so be wary that you might get sent the old version.

Another page quality factor to be considered is the dot alignment. Most of the pages have very similar alignments… a small fraction do not.

The space between the very last row of dots to the pages edge on either left or right sides varies somewhat—note that they are all perfectly aligned vertically. Variation ranges between 0.4cm and as little 0.15cm from the page edge.

Most pages are consistently around the 0.35cm-mark for me to use this journal regardless, but there are a few pages (~10, give or take) that are very close to the edge. This is enough for me to raise it as a concern with Minimalism Art’s paper supplier and/or quality control.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I’ll certainly enjoy using Minimalism Art’s
City Notebook throughout the next year!

Minimalism Art’s City Notebook is near perfection. I’m glad to have found a journal that addressed all my needs right now: numbered, light-ivory colored pages, very little ghosting, and budget-friendly. It has its faults, which may be considered grievous for some… this includes inconsistent dot alignment, a small Table of Contents, and the ghosting it shows, even at 120gsm. Personally, I don’t mind it at all when the San Francisco City Notebook is so inexpensive, at only $11.95 (at the time of my purchase).

The (old version) Premium Notebook gets docked down to 2.0 out of 5 stars, and this is for its see-through white pages alone. However, the new batches of Premium Journals will include the same paper as the City’s from now on. After this transition, I gladly bump it back up to 4.5 stars.

Would I buy this journal again? Maybe! If my two main issues are addressed in future versions of this journal—the slight differences of dot alignment and small table of contents—I’d definitely continue purchasing Minimalism Art’s products as my staple bullet journal brand.

Originally published on my old blog, The Plant That Never Blooms (on Blogspot)

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