Coincidence recently brought me together with Matthias Buettner, CEO of X17 and X47, who introduced me to his product-portfolio and kindly assisted me with help and advice in bringing to you a series of blog-posts on book-by-book note taking-systems, of which this entry is the first part of. For this post here, Mr Buettner generously made available a X47 A6 notebook – many thanks for that.
A premium book-by-book system
Let us start by, first of all, shedding some light on what a book-by-book note taking-system actually is. Well, it basically is a flexible book-system that kind of allows you to incorporate whatever paper style or form you might want to use within your notebook. I was familiar with such systems from the world of time planners, such as Filofax, which for my taste have always been way too bulky. It was new to me to see, however, that such systems also do exist for slimmer notebooks.
So let’s dive right into things and start out by taking a closer look at the X47 Steel. You can get the notebook in a variety of sizes (A7, A6, A5), leather types, colors and features. Depending on the choices made here, the notebook’s price will range somewhere in between 40 and 90 €. I got the A6-version in a bright cognac-colored cowhide.
The leather smells amazing when you unpack the notebook and it has a beautifully structured look and premium feel. It is soft in the hands while still being stiff enough to make a good surface to write on when the notebook’s not laying on a desk – a reason that often made me choose regular hardcover notebooks over the sloppier soft cover ones.
The X47 Steel I have here has room for accommodating two exchangeable notebook-journals. You may separately also chose a page marker in any color you might want – I got an ivory colored one here.
Handmade in Germany, leather from Italy, and thin high quality-paper
The notebook is “HandMade in Germany” while the leather is from Belgium and Italy. The standard-equipment of the notebook is a note-mix that it comes with, i.e. one journal in plain ruling and one in squared ruling, each with 64 numbered pages, slightly rounded edges and an off-white paper that has a silky feel to it.
The ruling of the squared journal has a quite tight grid (a square being 2.5 x 2.5mm), allowing for narrow writing that saves space and, hence, paper. The paper itself feels pretty thin. Not more than 70 g/sqm I would say. This might be due to Buettner’s philosophy of keeping the notebooks really slim. Anyway, I tried some of my favorite pens on that paper: the Stabilo Pen 68, Faber-Castell Finepen 1511 Document, Faber-Castell Broadpen 1554 as well as the Pelikan Inky. All were only slightly shining through the paper’s backside, as with any other premium quality notebook paper. It was only the Inky that bled through. Just a wee bit though, making the backside of the paper still perfectly usable. I would say that the paper is really good, given these properties on such thin paper.
An (almost) fully customizable notebook
These respective inlays also bring us to the heart of the X47 Steel as a book-by-book system which becomes especially evident when you look at the notebook’s spine. It looks like this when closed…
…and like this when opened:
It is this visible steel system that lends the notebook its name. While my notebook here as two of those steel systems, it is also available with only one or up to three of them, giving you full control of how much paper you would like your notebook to be able to carry.
Now, this is where the book-by-book-thing comes into play because you can customize the interior of the notebook just the way you want to while you will always be keeping the leather-wrapper. Meaning: you can add any book you want (book-by-book) that is available on the X47-store to your notebook.
The X47-store offers a total of 17 different inlays/journals/books (for the A6-version) that you can choose from and add to your notebook. Available inlays range from a myriad of time planning journals, note paper rulings, and dividers to birthday planners, teacher journals or household account books.
Since the notebook lacks the gusseted pocket that other notebooks normally come with, it comes with a double-sided plastic pouch instead that does the trick equally well and accommodates all your receipts, business cards and other stuff.
A high precision steel-system from Switzerland with a lifetime-warranty
Now, how do you customize your notebook or change the journals once they are filled? The answer lays in the steel system – it carries the single journals and allows for a simple and easy exchange of them. You simply sort of push the whole journal upwards and eject it from the holder.
You will then see the steel-system exposed, ready for carrying another (new) journal:
…you can also see the way you attach the page marker band…
While you may think that the steel system looks a bit filigree, the company gives you a bold 47 years (yes, years) of warranty on it. This is because it is a Swiss-made precision high-grade steel system.
The exchangeable journals themselves carry the counterpart of the steel system on them with which you latch them back into your notebook:
Those tiny steel tubules come attached to any new journal, which (with the high paper quality) probably also makes them a wee bit more pricey. A single A6 journal (e.g. blank ruling) with 64 pages costs about 8 €. Compare that with, for instance, the A6 hardcover Moleskine (192 pages) for about 15 €, the X47 inlays are about a third more expensive – that is if you calculated per page. However, the X47 Steel offers you a fully fledged note-taking system that you can adapt exactly towards your needs beyond blank pages. And if you are tired of the black journal’s cover, you simply tear it off and it reveals a white counterpart:
If that still does not do the job for you, you may still go to the X47-webshop and choose from tens of other journals with different colors.
I removed the black wrapping, because I thought that my cognac-colored notebook looks so much better with the white one.
Before (with black journals):
After (with now white journals):
Conclusion: hello, gorgeous
All in all, the X47 Steel-system is an extremely flexible book-by-book system that might fill the gap for many note-taking and planning purposes and just adapts to your circumstances. The journals have a thin premium paper that does not compromise on quality. The leather wrapping is amazing in look and quality and probably accompanies you a lifetime. The steel system also comes with a (sort of) lifetime-warranty.
Sure, the notebook is a bit more expensive than a regular notebook, but that is just how it is with premium products. Nevertheless, if you compare the system to other premium book-by-book systems (e.g. RoterFaden), the price is still really fair.
And, last but not least…ah, let’s leave it aside with rational reasoning…just look at it.