Saturday, September 28, 2013

Paper Love IV: X47 MaBook Notebook

Okay, the title is a little misleading for it's more like "leather love" but that just sounded wrong. :-D The X47 MaBook is a modular planner/notebook system not unlike a rather sophisticated Midori Traveler's Notebook. A range of refills is provided by X47, mainly diaries but also notebook inserts with plain or ruled pages. That's about the point where the similarities end!

As I was interested in this book X47 have offered a discount for a review. Thank you, X47! Still trying to be as neutral as possible reviewing this great piece of craftsmanship.

X47 MaBook notebook

X47 products aren't aimed at the youthful traveler but rather the distinguished businessman. Being neither of these I still like both systems and appreciate the variety. The MaBook immediately gives the impression of being extremely well made. The books are sewn by hand here in Germany using fine calfskin. The leather has a glossy surface which doesn't show minor scratches and also should be pretty immune to stains and discoloring. It should keep its pristine look for many years - no patina intended. Still - and very importantly at least to me - there is no plasticky feel to the surface and at the spine or the pen loop you can feel the leather is soft and supple.

The front and back cover seem to have some sort of stiff inlay so the book provides a hard surface to write on even if it's just resting on your legs. Let's look inside!

 X47 MaBook notebook - inside the front cover 

This is the inside of the front cover. There is room to insert an additional A6 notebook which is really neat. The one I'm using right now is slightly smaller than A6 (but it has Tomoe River paper! :D)

I'm not sure what the thing above the notebook space is for. It's a stamp sized opening with a leather flap which you can pull out. I've tried to imagine some use for this but can't really find one. Storing passport photographs maybe? Someone definitely put some thought into this so I'd like to find out. Let me know if you have any ideas!

X47 MaBook notebook - the lower end of the spine and beautiful ribbon bookmarks.

It's plain that there are no Midori-like rubber bands here. Also there's apparently nothing going through the middle of the refill notebooks. So how do you put a refill in there?

The answer lies within these slim metal rods. The curvy parts belong to the MaBook covers. The straight parts can be taken out and have two thorns which go through the spine of the refill. The ready made refills provided by X47 already have a rod attached to them so exchanging them is quick and convenient. They're also not hard to "hack". Remove the rod from the original refill and attach it to any cahier you'd like. All you need to do is punch two small holes into the spines at the right location.

My MaBook now houses a Midori MD light, a Rhodia and a Semikolon cahier. A fourth notebook could be added but as the Rhodia is pretty thick I'll stick with three for the moment.

X47 MaBook notebook - inserts are held by slim  metal rods

Here's the metal rod holding the Midori MD notebook in place next to one not holding a refill. The system is nice because it takes very little space inside the MaBook, much less than rings, and of course looks more elegant than rubber bands. On the other hand it's an additional effort if you want to use your own refills.

As you can see above there are three differently colored ribbon bookmarks sewn into the spine. The ends of those seem to be dipped in resin or glue, they are a little stiff and won't unravel for a long time. Another one of these well thought out and beautiful details.

The X47 MaBook notebook is full of nice details.

There's also a pen loop large enough to hold fountain pens. These last pictures show the color best (the light wasn't too great when I took them), a deep chestnut brown. They also come in black and red with various finishes, even crocodile print if you're into that.

The inside of the back cover has additional room for some business cards. X47 have told me there is already a new generation of the MaBook with extra space for some sticky notes but I'm just as happy with the old one. They come in A5 and A6 size, mine being the A5 one. It weighs 570 grams with 3 refills. The manufacturer can be found here: X47

How do you like the MaBook? I have to say I feel a little intimidated by it sometimes as it's such a nice piece of work and I feel like I'd need to become some bigwig CEO to use one. However the book still appears slim and subtle and unobtrusive enough to use in any daily context - even if you, like me, don't plan ever to be a bigwig of any kind.


  1. What a lovely notebook system! (Though, I feel sorry for the poor baby calves...may they live on in peace, where ever they go, after sacrificing themselves for this beautiful holder.)

    The name amuses me, I have to admit. Being an American, the first thing I think of when I see "MaBook" is "Macbook"---like the computer---or somebody trying to talk in slang. But your pictures show that quality triumphs questionable names here.

    It's my opinion that the little stamp area with flap looks big enough to hold business cards. That way the CEO using the system could carry them during meetings and give them to potential clients without rummaging through pockets or wallets. Is it the right size?

    The grid lines are bigger than I'm used to, and I'm surprised that they extend all the way to the edge of the paper. It seems quite bulky. But the metal rod system for holding notebooks looks very unique! I do wonder if it adds extra weight, though. Is it aluminum?

    After everything, I still have to say my favorite part of this review is the pen. Your Extra Lucens looks as alluring as ever---even in the background of the last picture. I can see the ink shining through the barrel and it is beautiful. <3

  2. Well yes, I'm also not really sure if their choice of name was well made - the product, however, most certainly is. ;)

    The opening with the flap is too small for business cards, it's really more the size of a stamp or a small passport photograph.

    The grid notebook didn't come with the MaBook but was "hacked" into place by me. ;) It's a (rather slim) sample that came with my Design-Y journal. It was the only A6 cahier I had around at that time. I have noticed that it is advisable to put something there, else the "hole" at the inside of the front cover will be noticeable when writing on the first pages of the first refill.

    The MaBook weighs 570 g with 3 refills. A Midori TN (larger size) with 3 refills weighs 330 g. My handmade leather journals are heavier than both, mainly due to the thick leather: 720 g (wow! Wouldn't have estimated that much).

    I think the rods are aluminium but they're really slim. They surely add considerably less weight than the rings of a Filofax or similar system.

    Omas love! <3 This is my Omas year, I traded for a "Bibliotheque Nationale" lately and I'll be getting another Omas in November, the Ogiva Vintage LE (how does anyone look through all their LE stuff? There seem to be dozens a year) in Arco brown. Beautiful pens. (Also I'm a bit disgruntled with Nakaya at the moment and Danitrio's too expensive right now, so it's a good time to focus on European pen makers.)

  3. The Mabook seems good but not for me...It is big and clumsy. The Tomoe river made refills will lighten the weight of the notebook.
    By the way, would you please clarify your disgruntlement with Nakaya?

    1. Nakaya disgruntlement is nothing major, just a defective pen. Been there before, though not with this brand. It will pass.

      The MaBook is actually not much bigger than the 3 refills inside of it. If you want A5 size, it doesn't get much slimmer than this. Less heavy maybe when plastics are used instead of leather. Some pen enthusiasts in the German forums like a notebook system by RoterFaden called "Taschenbegleiter", those are made of textile/plastics and refills are held by metal rods of some kind. I've never tried them but they should be lighter than the MaBook. Less pricey as well.

  4. Thank you for the review and some very attractive photographs.

    The Mabook appears really enticing. One problem a purchaser faces though is that the X47 is not found in stores (Geneva), and therefore a first hand look and feel before actually buying the Mabook is not quite possible. I do hope the Mabook and other X47 products would soon become available through stores.

    I did however find something similar whilst inquiring about Mabook in stores. This is the Swiss "whitebook" system, and it may be seen at: It is in in a similar price bracket and I did get one in medium size, red premium leather. It works well.