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20 Reasons to Spend $20 on a Notebook

Pricing is tricky. Everyone could have an opinion about what your thing costs.

Even if you price perfectly, some people would be happy to pay double while others will think you're expensive garbage—while on sale, no less. 

We see this a lot in our own office. To our pleasure, plenty of customers (the overwhelming majority) have great Code&Quill experiences and consider their notebooks invaluable.

But we also see consistent comments—on our Facebook ads, for instance—from people who can't see the point because they're just as happy with a $2 bargain-bin notebook. 

For that person, that logic is sound. If you'd be happy with a $2 notebook, why spend $20?

Despite what some claim, we know our notebooks aren't overpriced for what they are. Still, the skeptics' line of thought does beg a fair question: why would you willingly spend $20 on one notebook? 

This article lists some of the reasons we—and our customers—can offer as answers. Sure, we're biased here, but we were people who'd buy $20 notebooks before Code&Quill was even a thing. (And not because we were swimming in money.)

Judge a Book By Its Cover

1. Our notebooks are roughly 10 times prettier than a typical notebook. No one ever stopped mid-conversation to ask about a Five-Star, but we've been interrupted plenty of times while holding a Code&Quill. 

2. Our notebooks can make YOU look 10 times prettier (give or take). Accessories matter—no matter who you are, male or female. The attractiveness of the accessories always transfers, in whole or part, to the person carrying them. It's not just the nice appearance of things, either, but what you can guess about the person as a result—and a classy, understated notebook makes anyone looking guess "sophisticated."  

3. Our notebooks are more likely to be taken seriously from the beginning—especially by their owners. It's way easier to get attached to something, to invest and actually care about a personal possession, when that possession is both attractive and durable. That way, it holds your interest and it will stick around. In Code&Quill's case, the covers are the main reason your notebook can stick with you for a long time. 

4. The cover isn't just cosmetic; it's functional. A Kevlar vest is mighty expensive—but it stops bullets way better than a flannel shirt. Our covers are "awfully serious" for notebook covers—but they last way better than thin, glossy cardboard. And they lay flat!

5. The packaging is part of the Code&Quill experience—and we think you'll appreciate the difference. Presentation always matters. Whether someone is given a ring they'll wear for the rest of their life—or just served their dinner any night out at a nice restaurant—it's the first sight that's most memorable and meaningful.  

We don't advertise our packaging much in advance (on purpose) because we want that to be a fresh experience for customers. Many people have said that our packaging is part of what makes our notebooks great gifts.  


Thinking of someone who'd love using the world's best notebook?
Grab them one!

(How) You Get What You Pay For

6. We use better paper than most notebook-makers bother with. A typical spiral-bound notebook will have paper in the 50-60 GSM (grams per square meter) range. Our closer competitors, like Moleskine, come nearer to 80 GSM. Our paper is 100 GSM, so it's heavier and smoother and less likely to tear. 

7. Notebooks like ours aren't as simple to make as people think. It's just a bunch of paper bound together! you say. But look closely and you'll see how the manufacturing process is really a handful of manufacturing processes in a row.  

We'll go into more detail in a future blog post, but to give you an idea: the paper alone has to be cut, printed, cut again, cornered, folded, and formed into signatures before being sewn into the binding. Meanwhile, the binding (and cover, and patch, and so on) each have to be made separately—and THEN brought together into a notebook.

8. Notebooks like ours aren't as cheap to make as people think. Having read the above, it probably won't shock you to read that, no, our notebooks do not cost us "pennies" to make, even overseas. They cost us multiple dollars apiece, actually—and that's not including packaging, quality control, shipping everything from the factory halfway around the world, or everything to bring it to market (which is still quite a bit). 

9. Notebooks like ours aren't as simple to sell as people expect. This isn't a complaint, just a reality you might not consider about brands like ours: if you're aware of our brand and seriously considering our products, you're in a relatively small group of people. 

This is why we're thrilled to "find our people" — 90+ percent of people don't care about notebooks and never will. Then, to make it harder for us, the 10-or-fewer percent who DO care are scattered far and wide. Sure, maybe you technically "found" us, but it took a surprising amount of effort (and some resources) to spread ourselves to the places where you could find us—and that's daily work for a lot of people like us. 

10. Relative to most goods, we're still manufacturing in "small batches." The misconception that our notebooks would cost "pennies each" to manufacture might persist because of what educated consumers know about economies of scale—that companies, especially big ones, can produce goods more cheaply the more they can manufacture at one time. The same consumers understand that this means better profit margins (and/or more competitive pricing). This is all generally true—in fact, it's Econ 101. 

The only "but" is that Code&Quill is still small, relative to the world of manufacturing and its standards for pricing—which just means we're further away from being able to pass along manufacturing savings. (That's the economics of small-batch anything.)

 

Hop on the Bandwagon

11. We have amazing customers who write amazing things about us. It's nice to be liked. And it certainly helps people come look at us.

12. We've been liked from the start. Not in the sense that we won any popularity contest—but rather, in the sense that we were started with crowdfunding. Paper to the people! (Check out our original Traveler/Origin Kickstarter campaign here and our second Monolith Kickstarter campaign here.)

13. We stick close to customers as we adapt. We're always looking for feedback and ideas, whether they're for existing stuff or not. Customer feedback is what prompted our first product redesign; it's driven a lot of our blog and social media efforts; it's a big influence in the development of new goodies. We actively seek out and reward helpful feedback, so chime in whenever!

14. Certain pockets of people LOVE our stuff for their own particular reasons. For example, we've been very popular with programmers, designers, and other technical people because of our classic split page layout. They speak highly of the design in general, but they fall in love with the features that help them think.

15. Our notebooks, and the community supporting them, help people cross interests and think about their work in new ways. Not only do niche specialists like programmers think more deeply in writing, but most any person with a Code&Quill can think more broadly. Features like the slightly-wide dimension, specialty page layouts, lay-flat binding, and paper quality really do relax a lot of minds. 

 

Spacious working, smooth writing, sophisticated design.
Awwww yisssss.
 

Let's Do Some Math

16. One of our notebooks costs way less—per hour of use—than many other kinds of fun, hobbies, or vocational practice. A 200-page notebook could easily take you 50-100 hours to complete. Not only is that a conservative estimate for many of our customers, but that's only the time spent filling the notebook. 

So—in this one sense only—our notebooks really do cost pennies at a time.

17. Similar to #1: you're probably going to enjoy using one of our notebooks roughly 10 times as much, and that's where you'll sense the difference. It'd be enough to say it's a handsome, durable, highly functional notebook—but it's also way more fun to use than a bargain-bin notepad.

There's a reason people smile while driving Ferraris, and it's not because they're driving on better streets than the Fiats; it's because they're driving the same streets with much greater joy and precision. 

18. Most of us spend money which is, by comparison, patently stupid. Ever gotten a parking ticket because you were unlucky (and too lazy to drive 100 more feet to find an open spot)? Well, there goes $30. That's a Code&Quill and a half—in a merciful city.

How much have you spent on drinks out... that you didn't even finish? (You get it.) 

19. If you want a notebook that houses something very important, it's much easier to justify, no matter how miserly you are for everyday notebooking needs. This one you can fill out for yourself, if it applies to you.

20. Our company creates free stuff to assist and amuse people just like you... whether you buy one of our notebooks or not. For this last reason, we get to cheat a little bit—because if you've read this far, you've probably proven us right!

 

If you're in the market for a notebook, head on over to our store!
If you want more than one, check out our discounted notebook bundles!
If you just wanna say hi or look at pictures, come see us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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1 comment


  • Well said. I’m convinced. Just purchased a couple and I’m waiting for them to show at my doorstep.

    I’ve been keeping journals for more than 10 years now. Went to an electronic format because, well, my handwriting is atrocious.

    So we’ll just have to see how this goes…

    tom on

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