Initially, I was a bit skeptical for what I was going to use my Steno book when it arrived. So tentatively, I numbered out the pages and set up an index, as I do with all my notebooks. After that I used the first pages slowly, not wanting to waste an inch of this “Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 70# text ‘Bright White’ with a fine, soy based, 1-color application of ‘Double Knee Duck Canvas’ light brown ink”. Now, In my personal experience this is a fine way to ruin the enjoyment of a notebook. Good pages should not be blemished with stress-filled strokes of pencil, made light in preparation of a cataclysmic spelling error. This is a Field Notes notebook after all. The name evokes a sort of rough and tumble, get-it-done sensibility. Needless to say, my enjoyment of this notebook rose considerably once I accepted that mistakes on this paper are perfectly alright.
Onto the actual notebook then. Field Notes’ foray into greater sized notebooks, the Steno came solidly bound between thick slabs of chipboard and coiled together with a double spiral of black coated wire. Flipping back the front reveals a hearty collection of semi-useful information sharing space with the familiar blanks for personal information. Folding the board back further, the first blank page is revealed. The book is gregg-ruled, (as is standard for stenography books) which is a tad unfortunate for a lover of college ruling, and someone with rather small printing, such as myself. However, it’s easy to deal with. The most drastic change between regular ruled paper is the singular line vertically dividing the page in two. Initially, I expected it to feel disruptive as I wasn't planning on dividing my writings into columnar groups. The effect is quite to the contrary, I find. The center line doesn’t draw any unwanted attention when moving one’s eyes across the page and is often quite useful for notes and brainstorming rather than fully-fledged writing.
Beneath the lines themselves the paper is excellent, at least for a lowly pencil user like myself. As a comparison it feels quite similar to the paper in my Rhodia No. 16. There’s very little in the way of roughness and everything I’ve used to write on it glides over the tightly packed fibers. It does seem to be much better than the regular pocket-sized Field Notes. From what I've heard here and there, it seems as though a fountain pen wouldn’t have many troubles on this paper.
Now in the event one decides to flip all the way to the tail end of their Field Notes Steno, the rear cover offers a plethora of further information including a hobo code reference for the travelling stenographer searching shelter, a collection of conversions, though they seem to have little practical use, unlike the “Places with great names” category which features a comprehensive list of places with great names. Excellent for giving a story a completely authentic feel. Why not set your next deep, insightful drama about the incredibly complex human condition, (which you've figured out, of course) in Humptulips, Washington?
If you happen to be a notebook aficionado like myself, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Field Notes Steno Book. If you aren’t, buy a Universal Steno book. They’re thirty-eight cents and provide the exact same function. The only difference is quality. The value of a good product should be based on the enjoyment of unitizing its function. The Universal book may give the same eighty, gregg-ruled pages, but I can guarantee you’ll get more enjoyment out of a Field Notes Steno. Also, think of all the jealous looks you’ll get in Starbucks when your next literary revelation is spit out in true retro style. After all, Macbooks are the writing device of yester-year.