Stillman & Birn Soft Cover Sketchbooks


Stillman & Birn sent a few of their soft cover Sketchbooks and I am really enjoying them. The quality of S&B paper is always excellent and the hard cover version has been in my arsenal for years. It is equally fantastic for fountain pens, watercolors or mixed media. The soft cover has proven to be an even better match for my needs in several ways.

  • The soft cover journal weighs a little less than the hardcover. It’s enough to notice a difference carried in my travel pack.
  • The pages bend back a little more easily than the hardcover and become extremely flat. No barriers to painting across a two-page spread.
  • The corners are rounded which is a nice touch.
  • The soft cover has two more sheets of that lovely paper.
  • The cover is stiff enough that I can hold the book in my lap or hand to work.
  • The cover material is less inclined to slide on my desk than the hard cover version.

The question that remains is how durable the soft cover is compared to the hard cover and whether any difference is enough to matter in everyday use. My journals tend to get pampered with duty largely at my work table. They often look pristine even after months of use and so far the Stillman & Birn soft cover looks just fine. This is where the rounded corners are of benefit since they fray less easily than squared ones. Put that down to thoughtful design.

Frankly, you can’t go wrong with Stillman & Birn paper regardless of the application. Just match your paper selection to the intended use. Either cover will do the job so it’s a matter of personal preference. Both will protect your pages and provide a serviceable platform on which to work. This is truly the good stuff and very highly recommended.

Brenda Swenson review on YouTube and a second review here. Liz Steel review.

Portrait and landscape are both available at Amazon.


  1. Hi Margana, Stillman & Birn has definitely been my go-to paper for the last few years. I recently purchased a small, pocket sized softcover Beta and have really enjoyed it for zentangle. Despite this, I am about to crack open a Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook for 2017. I have always been a fan of the Leuchtturm grid notebooks for journaling, and I wanted to see how the sketchbooks work out for me. I bought this particular sketchbook a while ago, and it has been sitting around collecting dust. My goal in 2017 is to have ONE notebook going at a time. We’ll see how it goes. My other goal for 2017 is to use up the items that I have stashed. Abundance is always a good thing, but I am finding that, lately, my cup overfloweth a little too much. 😉 Happy new year to you!


    • Hi Karen! One notebook at a time? That’s too easy. Just grab it and write whatever the subject. I did it for many years and admittedly wrote a great deal more than the following years since subjects have been relegated to their own journals. However, now I can find entries for my blog and other activities. I like Leuchtturm, but opted for Staples Arc for pens, art and projects. Reusable pages greatly improve organization and allow for growth. The Quo Vadis Plan & Note gets daily notations. Musings go in a PaperForFountainPens.com hardback journal. You know the one. It gets less use and will last for years.

      Five notebooks is a complicated arrangement, but all except the daily journal will get used for years. I wish I’d started this long ago. My fountain pen notes are all over the place and a nightmare when I need something specific. Switching to separate notebooks is more useful since I can locate relevant entries easily.

      Do you have a special place for your stash? My paper, inks, pens, and paraphernalia need their own room or at least a ginormous closet. Too often finding what is needed for my latest project amounts to a time-consuming delay. Do I need a larger home or a smaller collection? Unfortunately, the latter is more likely.

      Happy New Year to you,too.


  2. I keep saying that I need a larger home!! It certainly would make things so much easier, wouldn’t it? I like your organization set up. I have a Staples Arc too, and have thought about making better use of it for everyday writing simply because it does give me the ability to better organize entries. Glad you are enjoying the paperforfountainpens.com journal. I have one too, and it’s lovely. I have vowed to better use my Hobonichi for everyday planning purposes, like work stuff, this year, as well. Ah, who am I kidding? There is no way that I’m whittling down to only one notebook. I might as well embrace the madness. I tend to have a set up similar to yours, whereby different notebooks have a specific purpose. =)

    I have a few separate places for my stash. I have a large bookcase that houses my inks and various other paraphernalia (which really could benefit from better organization). I also have an under-the-bed storage bin where all of my paper goods are tucked away. I too can relate to the time consuming process of finding what I need!


    • Aren’t the Arc notebooks convenient? In addition to the three medium ones for pens, art and projects, I keep two of the small ones to catalog pen and ink tests and notes. It’s hard to keep so many journals happy, but I try.

      Does your bookcase have a door? The dust here creeps into everything and paper suffers the most from it. I’ve ordered zippered plastic bags to store some of my inventory at least until a major reorganization happens. Once the paper has a more permanent home, the bags can be used to store clothing or linens. Sometimes simple, inexpensive solutions work very well.


  3. Nice post, thanks! I have a webshop where I sell the cutest little notebooks, http://www.vainilladesign.com, check it out 🙂


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