Dingbats notebooks

After reviewing the Nuuna notebooks I started looking for a vegan alternative, as I discovered the glue they use is based on the fish industry. After a quick research I found out that Dingbats sell vegan and eco-friendly notebooks. I contacted them, and they kindly sent me a sample to review, in A5+ format.

I’m not sponsored by Dingbats, however some links below are affiliated links that help me get a modest income from the blog if you order something from their website. Thank you for your precious support!

The Dingbats A5+, Wildlife Green Deer Notebook

The company

Dingbats is a family-run business that started in Lebanon. The notebooks are now made in Turkey.

First impression

I was very please to receive the notebook, and felt it was well-made. The finish is really nice. I immediately noticed how smooth the paper is. The notebook lies perfectly flat once opened, however you need to prepare it by opening it at more than 180° several times. Be gentle!

Size

Below you can see a comparison with other brands. Some values may vary depending on models or may be missing:

ModelPagesWidthHeightThick.Weight
Dingbats A5+192215mm160mm
Nuuna L Light176220mm165mm16mm500g
Nuuna L256220mm165mm21mm600g
Moleskine L240210mm130mm249g
Moleskine XL192250mm190mm445g
Leuchtturm 1917249210mm145mm17mm420g
Rhodia Goalbook240210mm148mm18mm372g
Dingbats A6+192145mm095mm
Moleskine S192140mm090mm118g
Nuuna S176150mm108mm16mm200g

Features

All the covers have the same style, and as I really like the design I’m very happy to know I can get different versions of it. If you like to keep your notebook in order and have them nicely aligned, you’ll be pleased. They are all hard covers bound with 100% vegan PU leather. The color of the Deer model I got is gorgeous!

While the design is minimalist the Dingbats come with an elastic closure, an inner pocket, a bookmark and a pen holder. For sure it could be less, yet the final result looks very simple and pleases the minimalist in me.

No soft cover option or light version are available, which is a bummer because it makes many other notebooks a way better option for travelling light.

Wildlife series

The cover on the Wildlife Series are all minimalist drawings of animals. All the pages are micro-perforated. This might bother you if you want to make a bullet journal; in this case you may prefer the other series below. However, the perforations are very tiny, and the pages would not go away by themselves as it would with the Moleskine perforated pages. You really need to want to remove them. Being sometimes a bit messy I have to say this feature is sort of a benediction for me! The pages are NOT numbered, it’s a nice thing if you want to make a two-sides notebook or would rather number only the relevant pages.

Some of the wildlife series models

Overall, the wildlife series is more minimalist, without any bullet journal features like index or future log, which makes it my favorite. Behind the cover you can see the animal footprint, depending on the animal you choose on the cover. Cute!

Earth series

The cover on the Earth Series are minimalist drawings of nature. It has additional features, with a second bookmark, three index pages, two key pages, and a future log. Only the last 16 pages are micro-perforated. It’s clearly oriented for bullet journaling, but I’d rather have fewer features and custom my index and future log. The pages are numbered and the useless Dingbats logo has finally been removed (you may see it on older pictures).

Some of the wildlife series models

They also added a new feature, the page tabs, that allows you to mark pages with color. I haven’t tested this feature.

The paper

The Dingbats are made of a 100gsm acid-free silk-cream paper. It’s FSC certified. You can choose between dot grid, blank, lined and grid ruling. The paper is a bit creamy.

The dotted grid

The grid is a standard 3.8mm per centimeter dotted grid, which makes 5mm spaced dots. It’s the same spacing on the smaller A6+ version. The dots are not too dark.

The grid is very well aligned and there is no gap in the middle. The outer gutter is minimal and it will please you if you like to make use of all the space for double pages layouts. Overall, the grid is almost a perfect, there is only 1mm missing to make an absolutely accurate horizontal transition between pages. I have never seen that precision in any notebook, though.

Paper comparison

Below a quick comparison of the Dingbats’ paper with other brands:

ModelDot space (mm)Paper weight (gsm)
Dingbats A5+5.0100
Moleskine5.070
Leuchtturm 19175.080
Nuuna Large3.5120
Rhodia Goalbook A55.090
Dingbats A6+5.0100
Nuuna S2.5120

Pens test

Overall the Dingbats does really great with most pens, including fountain pens with wet ink flow. The dry rollers pens will leave a strong mark in the paper.

Note that on the picture the Tombow Fudenosuke hard is bleeding, but I believe the pen was defective, because my used one worked just fine.

The Dingbats notebook: pen test. Verso have been mirrored for easy comparison.

My favorites pens on the Dingbats notebook:

  • The Kuretake: I was amazed of the render and the feeling of this pen on this paper. While on my Nuuna I wasn’t happy about it, on the Dingbats it was simply perfect. Pure black, smooth, no bleeding…

  • Pentel Touch: I was very pleased to notice that they are really working well on Dingbats. The ghosting is way better than on most papers I’ve tried.

  • Rotrings Isograph: I love the contrast of the gorgeous Rotring ink on the Dingbats’ paper. Just be careful with the sharp nibs and be aware it will bite the paper. You will get bleeding if you make fillings. Even though it bleeds, I still recommend it because it just look so good…

  • Any famous fine artist pen gives great results, Faber Castell, Micron, Uniball, stabilo…

  • Stabilo highlighter: they do not bleed, nor do you get ghosting, even if you pass them slowly on the paper. I was impressed!

Using Rotrings isograph on the Dingbats

The pens I do not recommend

  • Ecoline: lot of bleeding and ghosting.

  • Pilot V-pen : bleeding and ghosting. The ink will react in a very strange way in time, it looks like the chemicals in the ink are reacting with the paper.

  • Any dry roller pen: the nib will not only mark the other side of the paper but also the next ones.

It’s possible to use watercolor on the Dingbats. Just be careful not to use too much water. The paper dries very nicely and the waves disappear. However, I got some strange interaction with the dry ink of my Rotrings that ended up bleeding.

A vegan and eco-friendly notebook

Most notebooks on the market are assembled using animal-based glue. Dingbats uses a vegan glue, and from what I heard from other brands, it’s more expensive. For a small business I feel it’s a real engagement from them.

They have a vegan certificate as explained on their “we’re green” page. They claim to be the first and only vegan notebook, and while it’s hard to verify it’s true I couldn’t find any other.

It is said on the website that “all materials used are degradable, vegan and recyclable”, however the cover being made of PU leather I do not totally agree with this statement. While the PU leather may degrade, it's certainly not a good thing to spread micro-beads of plastic in the nature. However, real leather is worse and is not degradable (unless it’s a chemical free leather).

Price

At around 18€ at the moment for the A5+ format on Dingbats official website, the price of this notebook is standard for this quality of paper and finish, but you also get the vegan glue and the eco-friendly fabrication. The A6+ and A4+ models are respectively sold around 14€ and 30€. Don’t forget to add the shipping cost.

Issues

I only have noticed minor issues:

  • Some inks have a tendency to dry a bit slowly. I am not a very tidy drawer and I made a lot of tiny ink spots during my first mandala. I guess it will teach me to be more careful! It’s the price to pay to have no bleeding on some pens that usually bleed, including wet fountain pens.

  • The pen holder is fat and you feel a bump on the side. I would remove it if I could but I’m afraid to make a mess. I’m pretty sure you can, though. Less is more, and I believe the notebook will be better without it. It seems possible to remove the inner pocket too, but you will probably leave a glue trace. I read some critics on Leuchtturm notebooks because you have to buy the pen holder separately, but as far as I’m concerned I think it’s a wise decision.

  • You can also feel the pocket after the first half of the notebook and it gets quite noticeable around the end. If you are drawing and picky like me you might be annoyed by this. Again, removing it seems like an option here. You can glue the last page to hide the potential mess… but you will lose the animal footprint decoration. A small price to pay!

  • The page marker left a mark in the paper during transportation. I reported the issue, and they apparently plan to move it in the center before shipping to avoid the issue. I will check in next order.

Customer service

I contacted the customer service to know if they were interested by my review, and they offered to send me a free sample. They replied quickly and were really friendly. They answer my picky questions and seem interested into quality feedback. I can tell that they really want their product to be the best.

Buy it

You can buy the Dingbats notebook directly from their official website or from Amazon. To support Dingbats I recommend ordering directly on Dingbats website.

Conclusion

The Dingbats is an excellent notebook and definitely one of my favorites. If you’re vegan, looking for a good paper quality, like creamy paper and standard dot grids, then this is most likely THE notebook for you! If you’re looking for something wider, a smaller dot grid or white paper, have a look at my review of the Nuuna Notebooks

I like

  • The paper quality
  • The price for this quality, with the eco-friendly FSC certification
  • Vegan notebook
  • The perforated — but not fragile — pages
  • Unnumbered pages on the Wildlife series

I don’t like

  • The pen holder and pocket bump
  • No travel-friendly options
  • You may get addicted to it!

You have some questions or want to share your opinion? Feel free to comments in the section below or on twitter.

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