Friday, 3 May 2013

Review of the C.OVER diary/notebook

C.OVER notebook system
Well, this is a quirky little thing. I've been wanting to have a proper look at one for a while and so when The Journal Shop had a 25% off offer and it was also already reduced, I decided to get one. There was limited stock (understandably) so I ended up with a green one that is a shade too close to snot for my comfort, but there we go. [Still not affiliated to TJS. Still an exceedingly happy customer btw]

So what's so special about this little thing? Well, it has a nifty way of holding bound books in the cover, similar to the Midori Travellers Notebook in technique, but with a better fastener (in my opinion. I realise a Midori aficionado will disagree in all likelihood.)

What came in the package?
The cover (made from a soft plastic) (15.6 cm x 9.3 cm)
A 2013 diary, split into two 6 month-long booklets (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
A 32 page address book (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
A 32 page blank notebook (14.5 cm x 8.8 cm)
Credit card holders
A teensy pen
3 spare bands for connecting the booklets to the cover
An outer band to hold the whole thing closed

Top: cover plus the two diary sections;
Bottom: address booklet, notebook, credit card holder, pen and band

Card with three spare bands and instructions for fitting

The blurb says it will hold up to three different booklets (so, three types of notebook, or a notebook and the diaries, or the diaries and the address book etc. etc. etc.). However, if you use the credit card holder, this allows you to have four booklets in it.

How do the booklets fix to the cover?
In the same way as the Midori Travellers Notebook has elastic slotting into the centre of the notebooks, the C.OVER has elastic strands that attach the booklets to the cover. How it differs is that the elastic strands have bobbles on the end which slot into notches on the spine of the cover. There are three elastic fasteners and three notches, but... the credit card holders are designed to have the card holder in one side and a slot in the other so you can slot the cover of a notebook into each side and then add the credit card holder to the cover with one of the bands. The teensy pen slots into the top of the credit card holder too. You can hold up to 6 credit cards in the slots.

All booklets removed and one elastic strand unhooked to show you the bobble
Diary re-attached. Elastic goes up the centre of the booklet and
attaches top and bottom with the bobble

Credit card holder with one booklet slotted into the left hand side
Booklets slotted into both sides, plus some business cards in the holder to show them
Credit card holder about to be re-attached to the cover
All re-attached, including the pen

The cover
As I said, the cover is made of a soft plastic. It's soft to the touch in a way I'm a bit ambivalent about to be honest – it's a bit too soft but not quite so soft that it's truly unpleasant! It does smell quite plasticky though. The spine is a silver-coloured plastic with the brand 'Greenwitch'  embossed on it. The inside has (on the reverse of the front cover) 'C.OVER project Aldo Petillo Italy' The reverse of the back cover is plain. Both the front and back cover came with a harder piece of plastic in the full-height pocket to add some stability/stiffness to the cover I assume, but these could easily be removed to put papers/money/receipts in I suppose. I would have to carry a wallet with me as well as this little book though as there is no way of carrying coins in it.

Bit hard to see but this is the back cover with the stiffening plastic pulled out slightly

The diary:
It comes in two separate booklets, which somewhat randomly (and irritatingly for me) run as a week to view from 31 December 2012 to 7th July 2013 in the first booklet with the second one starting on 8th July. I know! Why would you not start on the 1st? It's a Monday after all.
After the cover, there is a page for putting your details. After that is a double spread with the year to view (6 months in open boxes down each page), called 'dates to be remembered'. I wouldn't find it all that useful, partly because the boxes are quite small and mostly because I would never look at it, regardless of size.

Page for personal details
Small month boxes for date to remember

After that comes a year to view whose sole purpose appears to be to tell you what day of the week each date falls on, though I guess you could circle important dates.

Next up is a list of public holidays and country dialling codes for a selection of countries.

Then is the diary itself. It is a horizontal, week per view, with Saturday and Sunday sharing the same space as a weekday gets to itself. The line spacing is minute (3mm) and there are lines for the hours from 8am to 7pm with some spare lines underneath. The month is given along the header in a variety of languages and the footer on the left-hand page has a list of the dates of the month with Sundays in bold.

After July 7th there is a double-spread of 2014 to view and the very last page is a page for notes.

Both diaries follow the same pattern except the second half runs to January 12th 2014 (making it doubly annoying that it started part-way into July. It isn't as if there isn't enough space to have started later and just had more notes pages at the back of the first one.).

The address book:
This has one side per letter and then six pages for notes at the back. The letters are laminated to make them a little stronger.

The notebook:
The one that came in the package was plain. There are apparently other refills but I don't know where you can buy them The Journal Shop doesn't have them (though they do stock the diary refills).

Paper Quality:
I would put the paper thickness at 70 gsm. Here are the results of the pen tests!

With most of the fountain pens it felt like the ink 'sat up' a bit on the paper. That said, there's not much feathering, even with my wettest combo of italic nib and Waterman's violet tendresse.

But ye gods look at the bleed-through! It makes filofax paper look half-decent! The other side is completely unusable. Not so disastrous in the notebook but in the diary this would be a nightmare. Pencil is okay!

The pen:
Throw it away. It's horrid. (the last line of the pen test was the pen that it came with. My pen-test text says 'The scratchy, unpleasant pen it came with')

The elastic closure:
Throw that away too. It's also horrid and doesn't have quite enough ping in it for my liking. Use a horizontal band and slot a decent pen into it (like with a Ciak notebook).

All in all?
Well, it's quirky and quite well designed but perhaps not so well finished. The idea is great – multiple, easily swappable notebooks/diaries/address books etc. but it's more than a little let down by paper quality and odd things like the second half of the year starting a week into July. My picky tendencies are also irritated that the cover has rounded corners but the notebooks and diary etc. all have squared corners. That lack of care for detail bugs me.

The good news is that Field Notes booklets fit in quite well without too much overhang (despite being a teensy bit wider).


  1. I bought one of these in Japan last year. Do you know anywhere on-line where I could get the diary refill?

    1. I don't I'm afraid. I bought the complete thing from The Journal Shop, bt a quick check on their site doesn't reveal and c.over stuff at all. That said, it's the same size as a lot of other small diaries, so I don't think you're limited only to c.over diaries.