Congratulations to the troubadour of the 20th Century on the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature today! His selection is a clarion call to all poets to remember that their art’s tradition is an oral one — dating back before the printing press was even invented. They need not limit themselves to print and what editors and the publishing world do — or decide not to do — with their work but instead, readily and full-throated, sing their songs from the rooftops like a ‘chanticleer in the morning!’ I would never argue that Dylan’s vocals are especially pleasant, but his use of words has impressed me for some time. His work changed many people’s views of important issues in the world in the last century, and I think he deserves this global recognition. Here, a song for which just the title alone is one of my favorites.
Thank you to Purple Trail.com for sending me a planner for review. The planner reviewed here is an 18-month, weekly “Life Planner” in a horizontal lay-out with 4 add-on optional sections (the maximum allowed) included at the back.
Below is my opinion in a quick listing of “pros” and “cons” about this planner.
- Size — 2 sizes are available; this one is a smaller 6″ x 9″ size, which is convenient to carry and work on in one’s lap, etc. A larger, 8.5″ x 11″ size is also available.
- “Chunky!” — If you like a “chunky,” packed planner — this one can be that, especially if you include add-on pages that are available.
- Cover Design Options — Many colorful designs from which to choose. Customizable.
- Calendar design choices — Vertical, horizontal, and hourly vertical available.
- Choose your own start month — Always a good thing; both 12-month and 18-month options available.
- Paper quality — thicker paper (80 lb.) that would hold up to many pen types.
- Pastel color palette on pages — If you don’t care for pastels, that might be a “con” for you.
- Add-on choices — Not having to pay for types of pages you do not think you will use is a plus. There are many options to choose from (e.g. notes, to-do lists, addresses, etc.), including a 2-pocket folder and set of coiled-in sticker sheets. (Note: Stickers are glossy, not matte finish).
- Thick, sturdy coil — which you will need, especially if you build a chunky book! Note: the full version — 18-month calendar + 4 add-on sections = a coil that seems enormous — about 1-3/4″ to 2″ across. (See photo of Purple Trail planner stacked on top of a “Flagship” Day Designer, below, to get a sense of the size difference.). The size of the coil can also be a con (see below).
- Month/Week Transitions included — That is, if the month ends in the middle of the week, that week gets repeated at the start of the following month. I like that! No looking for the end of the current month’s days in the next month!
- Logo not printed on cover — you’re not advertising where you purchased your planner. PT also has options to put photos, etc. on the back cover.
- Narrow horizontal line spacing — If you choose the horizontal option, the lines are more like “college ruled” than “wide ruled.”
- Price — Varies from a less-expensive option (relatively speaking for online, customized planners) to a higher price, depending on what options you choose.
- Shipping Time — While some reviewers have had an excellent experience with this company in terms of receiving their planners within days, this one took 2 weeks or so. I had to remind the company that it had not yet been sent — (not sure if the delay was related to the coupon code used for the review copy, or not, but that may have been the problem). Of course, for those used to waiting several weeks for a planner, 2 weeks or more may not be an unreasonable amount of time to wait.
- Interior design & print saturation — As might be expected in one of the lesser-expensive choices of these kinds of planners, design on the interior pages is not particularly notable. There are designs on the monthly dividers; however, they are pretty basic. Also, the print quality is very faint, especially with some of the lighter pastels. The small print, e.g., of the current and following month at the top of the weekly pages, can barely be seen in some colors.
- Tabs not laminated — Kind of a deal-breaker for me. Heavy use of a planner almost requires this, in my opinion. The dividers are thick card stock, but laminated tabs would improve their life-span.
- Tabs not labeled on back — Another deal-breaker for me in many ways on a planner. Just white on the backs of the labels.
- Too chunky? — While it is fun for many of us stationery enthusiasts to have a chunky planner, it makes the pages a little difficult to turn — again, though, the customer can control to some extent how thick the planner is with not including the add-ons, etc.
- Weight — Again, depending on how much you load up your planner, the hard-cover version, even in the smaller size, is quite weighty.
- Split Weekends — A deal-breaker for many planner enthusiasts. I want all 7 days given an equal amount of space.
- No bookmark or planner band included/available— For a planner that is so chunky, it would be especially useful to have a snap-in bookmark included, or at least available as an add-on option.
- Hard Cover version does not have plastic protector cover — While these hard cover versions are attractive, they are matte, not glossy, so they will get stained or scuffed up pretty easily. Having either a glossy cover that can be wiped off (like on a hard-cover book) or plastic overlay covers on front and back would protect the covers. Perhaps the plastic overlay covers could be made to be removable for those who did not want to use them, or perhaps made available as an optional add-on?
- No pocket inside cover — While the folder option is available, there is no pocket on the inside of either cover that might be nice to have.
- “Sheds!” — When flipping pages back and forth, the planner actually “sheds” bits of white paper on the table from where the many pages were cut to be coiled. This kept happening and was annoying! Perhaps it would stop eventually?
In looking over the pros and cons list above, one might hope to see fewer cons before investing in a customized online product; however, it depends on what you want in a planner, of course. The many attractive cover designs alone are enough for many planner and stationery enthusiasts to want to order from this company.
Writers looking for a thick, smaller-sized, chunky notebook without the dated pages — I could not find this option on the website. Though the company does offer notebooks with customizable covers, there are not as many pages available. I would enjoy having a notebook, perhaps not quite this thick, but of this size and perhaps a good portion of this thickness, to work in on the go — the hard cover option would make it quite useful in taking notes at a press conference, presentation, etc.
As a planner company, the many cover designs, smaller overall size option (6″ x 9″), and other customizable features are some of the attributes that make it stand out in this large and growing field.
Purple Trail also has “Teacher,” “Student,” “Wedding,” and “Mom” planners available. The company actually customizes many different kinds of products, not just planners and notebooks. It says it customizes “stationery, decor, and gifts,” all available on its website.
Thanks, again, to Purple Trail for the sample copy to take a look at and review!
[Images: Connie Ann Kirk.]
Copyright (c) by Connie Ann Kirk. All rights reserved.
A representative for Staples and Erin Condren reached out to Creative Writing to inform readers that the popular planner & design company is expanding its reach to more Staples stores across the country. In addition to about 500 Staples locations across the U.S., Erin Condren Life Planners and accessories will also now be available through the Staples’ online store. The range available will include exclusive-to-Staples designs of the 18-month Erin Condren Life Planner.
Erin Condren, Founder & Chief Style Officer, commented, “It’s such a thrill for me to offer and design a special assortment of my stylized products to more Staples customers. My motto has always been ‘let’s get it done so we can have some fun.’ This happy, colorful collection of organization solutions is designed to inspire people to get organized and stylized!”
“The expansion of Erin Condren’s line to Staples.com and additional retail stores will give even more of our customers the opportunity to enjoy her inspirational solutions for their work and home,” said Liz Haesler, senior vice president and general merchandising manager, Staples.
Haesler added, “Erin Condren’s collection of beautiful and bold organization products reflect our customer’s desire for stylish organization options for their personal life, home office and workspaces.”
The Erin Condren Life Planner is known for its colorful layouts and its personalization features, including interchangeable covers. The company also sells accessories for its planners as well as other stationery and related design products.
Copyright (c) by Connie Ann Kirk. All rights reserved.