I go through a lot of small sketchbooks because I’m constantly scribbling in them. I have one where I watch TV, one in my office, one in my coat pocket and at least one in each of my sketching bags.
I’ve tried using Field Notes notebooks. I use the ‘mustache’ notebooks I wrote about at one point. These are wonderful because of their toned 4×6 paper that take fountain pen ink well. But for my sketching bags I like to have something that’s just a wee bit bigger, with a spiral binding so I can fold everything back and have just the sheet I’m working on in front of me. It still has to be cheap, fountain pen friendly, and of a practical size. For that I’ve been cutting 9×12 spiral-bound, 60# sketchbooks that I cut in half, creating 80-page 6×9 books that cost me less than $4. All of these solutions suffer when I try to add even light washes of watercolor.
What is a problem is that while I like the cheap Fabriano paper in those 6×9 books, they’re just large for the purpose, being too large and too heavy because I’m also carrying my regular S&B sketchbooks.
So, when I saw Canson’s XL Multi-Media book in a 7×10 size, I knew I’ve found my answer. Cut in half (I just run it through my bandsaw), it provides two 60-sheet 5×7 sketchbooks and the best part was that the paper is 98lb paper that takes watercolor washes quite well. No, I’m wrong. The best part is that these books only cost $3.50. I put one of my sketches on the front just to spiff it up a bit.