In my last blog post, I talked about why I was using the Archer and Olive A5 BLACKOUT notebook, but I never touched on the quality of the notebook. I have used this journal for a little over two months now and can confidently say that I am very impressed with the overall product. Like everything in this world, it does have its flaws. However, this journal has many more advantages than it does drawbacks. One thing to note is that I am not sponsored by Archer and Olive. These are my personal opinions that I wish to share with the bullet journal community. I will start with the cons and work over the pros.
- No numbered pages
Part of the original bullet journal concept involves the idea of noting the pages you use throughout the entirety of the journal in the index, so you don’t have to waste time searching through your journal for a specific spread. It’s would be similar to an index in a novel or encyclopedia. Another reason why I like having numbered pages in a journal is to see how many pages I have left to better assess when I will need to move into another journal. Just as it is time consuming to look for spreads, it is time consuming to count the pages you have left.
2. No index
Many people in the bullet journaling community don’t utilize the index. I am not one of those people. I like the idea of implementing spreads throughout the month and noting where the pages are in my index. Although creating a spread for my index would be a simple fix, numbering all of the pages in the notebook would be painful for my hand. It is taken into consideration that bullet journaling is used for so many different things, not just planning.
3. Some pages don’t align perfectly
Most of the pages in the BLACKOUT journal align perfectly. There can be a few pages that are slight off. These crooked pages are nothing that is extremely noticeable at first glance, but can be difficult to work with when creating a precise spread. It is very rare to get multiple pages with the dotes not being perfectly aligned, but it does happen. Specifically, look at the distance from the first row of dots to the top of page in both photos.
4. Not as many pages
The majority of the bullet journal pages that Archer and Olive have are 160 pages. This is huge difference compared to ￼250 pages in the leuchtturm1917. The BLACKOUT journal I have been using since the beginning of January, is almost complete because I create quite a few memories spreads or add an additional spread to continue my list or tracking. Archer and Olive do sell a notebook that has 192 pages for around the same price as an alternative to the normal journals, but none come in the black pages.
5. High in price
The BLACKOUT journals are currently listed on the Archer and Olive website for $38. This does not include the $5 standard shipping you will have to pay if your order is under $69. On a day that Archer and Olive is not having any sales and you only get one BLACKOUT book, your bill will come out to $43. As a college student, $40 can get me a week’s worth of groceries. The prices of these journals are pretty outrageous for a student like me, but it is all up to perspective when it comes to pricing. I would recommend waiting for a sale or saving up for your purchase.
6. Light grey dots
All the BLACKOUT journals come with light grey dots. From a distance, these dots are not predominant to the eye. When you get in close, they become more visible. I put this element in the cons because I often find myself having trouble seeing the dots clearly when working in a room that isn’t brightly lit up. Not everyone has this problem, but there have been times where my writing went haywire because I couldn’t see too well.
7. Foils tend to rub off
When you pay $40 or more on a single notebook, you tend to have high expectations on the product you have just purchased. One thing I found relatively disappointing was the life time of the foils on the notebooks. Like I have said earlier, I haven’t been using this journal for that long for the foils to start fading on the side of the papers and the front cover. The foils are mostly intact, but show clear signs of ware. To the right is my current cover design with small fading on the middle left hand side. Below, the side of pages.
8. Less range of supples to use
When working with black pages, most ordinary writing utensils don’t show up because they were made for white paper. When starting out with black pages, make sure you have enough supples to satisfy your bullet journaling needs. After working with strictly black pages, I have noticed that my supplies for this journal are much more limited compared to rest of my stationary collection.
9. First Layer comes off when erasing or removing something sticky.
When erasing too quickly or removing some unwanted washi tape, I often find parts of the first layer of my black pages coming up with it. Despite little specks of paper coming off with friction or something sticky, never once has the page torn on me. I just found it extreme odd. It almost reminds me of black construction paper.
- Thick Paper (160 GSM)
One of the biggest selling points of this journal is how thick the paper is. This 160 grams per square meter (GSM) paper can take watercolor, gauche and acrylic paint extremely well. Although the paint does crinkle the paper a bit, it often does not ghost to the next page. Copic markers do bleed through, but the ink doesn’t make it through the following page compared to the Leuchtturm 1917 or the dingbats notebooks.
2. Pen Loop
It is always a pro to have a pen loop on your journal especially if you have black pages. I always keep a white gel pen in my loop. If I was to forget my pen bag while rushing out the door, I couldn’t just use any black pen in an office. Any regular black ball-point pen wouldn’t show up in these pages, so always having a pen that works with my specific pages is a necessity.
3. Folder in the back
In almost every bullet journal known to man, there is a folder in the back of the journal. If your utilizing bullet journaling for a more decorative and an artist way of planning, then that back folder is a necessity. It can hold almost anything you need it to. I mainly keep stickers, ticket stubs, receipts and small scrap paper in my folder. I love it because I don’t have to bring another pouch with me when planning for my day or creating a new spread. It is more efficient and fun to look through after completing your journal!
4. Packaging is stunning
One thing the brand, Archer and Olive, kills every time is their packaging. When pulling out your newly arrived package, the product is sealed in plastic wrap to keep the product in mint condition. With almost every book order, your journal comes in a small white box wrapped in white paper. The box is only the beginning of the excitement. After taking your journal out of the box, you are informed with all the benefits of the product with a cute cut out paper around the journal that you can easily slide off. Opening your journal for the first time is the start to an exciting experience of bullet journaling.
5. Sleek Designs
Almost all the designs are foiled into the cover of the notebook. In my opinion, they are simplistic and stunning. The notebook designs vary to please an array of personalities. The material of all the journals can also change depending on the design. Most of them being made out of cloth material. Part of why I believe the small business is so successful is because of the image they successful put out to their audience. Here is the cover of my BLACKOUT Journal:
6. Journals lays flat
When working in a journal, one of the breaking points of loving or hating bullet journaling is whether or not you can actually write in the journal successfully. Before I seriously took on bullet journaling, I had a small spiral notebook that I tested out. Since the metal spiral on the notebook consistently got in the way of my writing, I was never able to fully accept the idea of bullet journaling. Having the ability to write in a journal that lays flat is critical to me when examining the quality of the notebook. It makes my process of organization smoother and more enjoyable.
7. Quality Paper
To the touch, the paper in the blackout book is extremely smooth. Brush pens that are able to show up on black paper last longer on quality paper because the brush pens won’t stray while being used with this paper. The smooth paper also helps make any writing process easier compared to rough water color paper.
8. Supportive of a woman business
The Archer and Olive company is a small independent business that is run by a woman named Bonnie in the city of Fort Lauderdale. She has a small team that helps with production of her business that also consist of women. They are all super creative and share a common intent of bullet journaling. It is super inspirational to see their work and set an example for any other women entrepreneur out there.
9. Two bookmarks
I really enjoy having two different bookmarks because I can work in two different spreads at a time without losing my spot in my journal. It is convenient and does not get in the way by any means.
10. 100% vegan
From my understanding, the journals does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. To add, the products are free from animal testing. Despite the fact the brand name comes from two cats, the brand Archer and Olive, (not the cats) make it clear they are complete animal lovers and would do no harm to the animal kingdom.
11. Bound by hand
I love the personal touch aspect of anything that I am buying. It makes the product feel more well thought out. It also shows that someone thought deeply about bounding the book. It shows craftsmanship and care. That is always the difference between a like and a love towards any product.
12. Can fix mistakes with a black marker
Almost everyone has a black marker whether it is permeant or a washable. Fixing mistakes in this journal is way more easier than having to going out to dig for some cute scrap paper or running out to the nearest place to grab some white out. In my opinion, the black marker does a better job of concealing the mistakes with black pages. It is easy because you don’t have to wait for anything to dry or make some random sticker work that doesn’t necessarily fit your spread as much as you would like it too.
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