I am so excited to be writing this post. As many know, Stillman & Birn, my favorite sketchbook company, released a line of softcover sketchbooks not very long ago. Sadly, what most also know is that there were manufacturing problems with those books and they had to recall all of them, at great expense, from around the world. I applauded them for this as it hit their bottom line hard, but they didn’t want we artists to bear the pain of the problem.
Excepting the manufacturing problem, these softcover books looked like a dream come true. Available in all of Stillman & Birn’s great papers, in a variety of sizes, and with cover colors that reflected the paper type. The covers had an almost suede-feel to them. They weighed only 55-65% of the weight of the equivalent hardcover and they were much thinner. A dream come true for someone like me who carries several sketchbooks and walks a couple hours a day to sketching locations.
Stillman & Birn sofcover prototypes
Well, they’re BACK!!! Or at least almost back. Stillman & Birn says they should be available ‘real soon’ and they sent me a couple of their prototype books to get my opinion about whether the problems are fixed.
To that I can say, they are fixed and then some. I’ve gone through both of my prototype books, one page at a time, and the problems we saw with the initial release are gone. But it’s better than that. These books lay flatter than their early softcovers and certainly better than the hardcovers. I didn’t have to bend them backwards as you do with the hardcovers to get them to lay flat. They just do, though I still recommend going through each page, folding it out flat before using the book. I do that with any sketchbook, regardless of brand.
As I said, the books they sent me are prototypes. They came with Delta and Gamma paper so I could check both the 150gsm and 270gsm binding. The covers are the same material as the production versions but these aren’t color-coded; they’re prototypes. Still, they are amazing books and I’m downright giddy that I have them to use. I was planning to get somewhere to do a sketch for this blog post but a snowstorm prevented that. Truth is, everyone knows how great Stillman & Birn paper is so I decided it was more important to get this announcement into the ether. So here it is, without a sketch. Here’s the money shot of the books laying flat. Ain’t they gorgeous? Coming soon to an art store near you.
Stillman & Birn softcovers, laying flat.