Review of Whitelines Perfect Bound Books.

A month or so ago, we received a package of books from Whitelines (see also the US site), a Swedish company who makes very fine books with a unique feature: WHITE LINES. That’s right. The lines are white, while the paper is a very light grey. Does it make a difference to this pencil user? Read on!

Cover Material: Coated cardstock.
Paper: 80 g acid-free; grey-tinted paper with white lines.
Binding: Sewn.
Size: Assorted; A5 and “pocket” as tested.
Page Count: 48/36 sheets (96/72 pages).
Unique Characteristics: White lines on grey paper.
Origin: Sweden.
Availability: Online, even on Amazon.

We were sent two of the Hard Bound books and two of the Perfect Bound books, one each in black and white. What’s immediately striking about Whitelines books is both the color scheme and the construction. Covers are strong. Corners are rounded precisely (even more than Moleskines and Field Notes, to tell the truth). The bindings are tight. The package containing our four review samples was actually pretty badly damaged by the mail service; the stuffing was everywhere from a large hole, etc. The A5 Hard Bound book suffered minor damage, but the A4 Hard Bound book had two corners badly crushed. I know this was not Whitelines’ fault at all. I mention it because, although the package went through hell, the large book’s binding was completely intact. Intact enough that we’ll do a second review of the Hard Bound Whitelines in the near future, featuring more of the company’s history. These books merit it, for sure.

What I’ll mention in this review of the Perfect Bound books is a little about the concept behind Whitelines.

“Whitelines® is the new generation of writing paper. The concept is patented and yet very simple: Since markings from pens are dark they interfere with the traditional dark lines of ordinary paper. On Whitelines® there is no visual interference between the lines and the pen colour. Whitelines® makes your writing and sketches stand out.” (More.)

The lines also disappear under copymachines, and the paper comes lined or with a graph print. We tried both. The graph spacing is just right, and the lines are also very well-spaced for graphite writing.

I have to admit that I was skeptical of two things. First, I didn’t think that slightly grey paper and white lines would really be easier on my eyes. On the contrary, I assumed that they would be more difficult to see (especially since my daughter broke my unbreakable titanium glasses, and I haven’t had time to go to the eye doctor yet). I was also nervous that graphite (which is grey-to-black) would not show up on grey paper very well.

I was wrong on both counts. The lines are not difficult at all to see, and the paper just seems, for lack of a better word, mellow. Rather than shining up at you, begging you to write on it, it’s just grey and relaxed. And, while I was afraid that graphite marks would be more difficult to see, the opposite was somehow true. I checked with my wife, and we both agreed that writing stood out at least as well as on white unlined paper – perhaps more. (If more, don’t ask me how that works. My degrees are in philosophy, not physics or physiology.) In my own experience, the claims of the benefits of Whitelines’ paper prove wonderfully true.

But how does the paper handle graphite? Ghosting is not perfect, but it’s on the better side of standard, that is, very good. Graphite ghosts less than Field Notes (way less than Moleskines) and us up there with much thicker paper like EcoJot‘s recycled paper. To be clear, I’ve never found anything (even cardstock) that doesn’t ghost at least a little with some of my favorite softer pencils. The texture of the paper is similar to a Field Notes book, which is to say smooth, but with a nice tooth. Writing in a Whitelines book is as easy on one’s hands as on the eyes. Aside from Whitelines’ own special features, where this paper really shines is its smearability, which is on par with Rhodia paper – paper that lots of us know is very very smear-proof. It took some very soft leads and hard rubbing to product any smearing at all. In short, Whitelines books have nice paper that resists ghosting and smearing much better than most papers, with gentle white lines and grey paper to boot. You can’t lose.

Add to this the tight and durable binding of the Perfect Bound book (which spent no less than two weeks in my backpack) and the thoughtful sizing, and you’ve got a very nice book. The A5 we tested fits well for meeting and reading notes; that’s what I used it for during the test period. The “pocket” size is similar to a Moleskine or Field Notes, only thicker. The pocket version is no less durable than the A5 version. As we promised Whitelines, I beat them up quite a bit. And they survived, looking pretty new, too. And stylish.

In our up-coming review of the Hard Bound books, we’ll talk about Whitelines’ environmental commitment also. Stay tuned.

15 Replies to “Review of Whitelines Perfect Bound Books.”

  1. J.G. – what do you think of the perfect-bound books? I’ve never loved them, preferring a moleskine-style binding that lays flat, or wire. These sound like the paper is trick enough to overcome the binding, so just curious your thoughts on p.b. journals.

    1. I like ’em a lot. These lay pretty flat, though not as much as a Moleskine or spiral. But! Whitelines does make spiral books, too, though I haven’t gotten to try them. : )

  2. I like the idea. I like the formats. I have all sorts of them – hardcover, softcover, coil bound, glued pads. Some ordered directly from Sweden at considerable expense before they had distributors.

    Of course, there may be various differences between paper runs and models. That seems to be the norm among all of these larger brands.

    Unfortunately, I find Whitelines products to be generally anti-pencil and anti-graphite. I don’t think the paper is at all similar to Field Notes. Pencils just don’t seem to properly glide along the paper surface or adhere. I think the products are aimed at gel pens/rollerballs or perhaps ballpoints.

    1. I haven’t tried ink on mine, but I’m really liking the paper for pencil. Maybe a very very different run? I’ve found that graphite adheres better than Field Notes and feels like a less smooth Rhodia paper at times. It does feel kinda…thin for inky pens, but I thought the same about Daycraft (and was very wrong).

      1. Hi all-

        I just bought mine three days ago and agree with everything people have said. The paper is high-quality and feels great to write on; the notebook works well with ballpoint and excellent with B-lead .7mm automatic pencil. I tend to stick with hardbound notebooks (I’m an engineer) and I’m just, well, really enjoying using it. Interestingly, I get a lot of compliments on it when I go to meetings – I have the A5 white hardbound product. Believe it or not – it *is* an eye-catcher, with the neon-orange ribbon, orange stripe and orange curtain-pages.

        Minor downsides:
        Some people have made comments about bleed-through with fountain pens and markers- so be aware of that, but apparently if you adjust your writing pressure the effect is mitigated. I’m a lefty, so using a fountain pen is not going to be an issue with me :-(

        Also, as stated, the corners (especially on the A5 size) tend to get banged up because they’re square, and as you all know Moleskins, Picadilly’s and the like are rounded. Just be careful and they’ll be fine, but mine came in the mail a little crunched, too.

        I wish it had the side ribbon-holder, but I know they make other notebooks that have them (just not the white-cover model). This is pretty minor, because the elastic tends to get stretched-out anyway.

        I suggest them highly. I find them to be absolutely the best quality for the money.

  3. John

    Great review. I just reviewed the whole Whitelines line at Frankfurt Paperworld show. I have been testing out my Palominos on these past two days. Blackings on Whitelines. Very Nice. We’re working with them on adding a number of these items to our offerings at hopefully in the next one month. Stay tuned.

    1. It’s when graphite traces onto the facing page when pressure is made on the reverse page, like how you can can trace with graphite if you put a drawing facedown on top of a piece of paper and then rub the back of the paper with the drawing on it.

      1. Is it like, when you write on a notebook and what you have had write mark the facing page and the writing is backwards?
        Thanks in advance for the answer.

        I love this Whitelines. It´s a so simple concept but at the time so revolutionary, I mean, who can re-Think a line on a paper? and make some money in the process…

        1. “Is it like, when you write on a notebook and what you have had write mark the facing page and the writing is backwards?
          Thanks in advance for the answer.”

          Yup, that’s it! :)

  4. John,

    While browsing the internet for virtually no reason I stumbled upon this site and, subsequently, this review. Needless to say, your review was compelling enough to force me to buy no less than 6 perfect bound A5 Whitelines from Amazon. As your review promised, I am considerably impressed. The paper takes pencil incredibly well, feels weighty and strong but responsive and soft, and simply looks pretty.

    Long story short, thank you for spurning the desire to revolutionize my almost constant scribbling. The size and writeability of the Whitelines notebooks has made an incredible impact.

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