Review of Red Janet Leather Hobonichi Cousin (Codex) cover from Van Der Spek

Over the past few days I have been taking candid shots of my Van Der Spek Codex cover in red Janet Leather as I have been using it. I will post those here and also give a small review of what I personally think of the cover thus far.

I designed this Codex as a custom order and I included as many options as I could in my design so that my readers and Van Der Spek customers can see the options available. The only thing on my list of options to try that I did not add was an external slip pocket.

So, here are photos of it out and about. As you can see it is filling up day by day. I never aim to set something up fully on the first day. I just add the basics and let my setup grow organically from there. About once every two weeks I have a clear out and remove things (receipts, vouchers, notes on bits of papers, business cards) that I do not need.

This was taken on the bus one day as I was going through my to do lists and notes

Candid shot of the inside of my handbag. My planners always tumble around with the rest of my things in my bag so I need a leather that either does not show marks, or which marks and ages beautifully. It is not practical for me to put them in a pouch or bag because I do most of my work in my planners on the run and I cannot faff around taking them in and out all the time. The first mark always hurts the most, and after that I love getting marks because it means it is working hard for me and doing what it was made for. 

Those pockets are filling up now – my sentimental bookmarks given to me by Ashley and Nati have found their way in there, as have discount vouchers, receipts, business cards.

This side has stamps, loyalty cards I use less often, a voucher for an Yves Rocher gift with purchase, my freebie card from my hairdresser (the 10th time I go there I get a free product)

I had 6 A4 pages in the full length back pocket when this photograph was taken and they did not add bulk to the cover.

Verdict so far:

  • Leather: has held up well in its first week. Scuffs rub out and I imagine any stains will blend in over time. I have no stains yet to prove this theory, but I am sure they will come in time!
  • Weight: actually not that heavy. The Hobonichi in itself is a very light planner due to the Tomoe River paper which is half the weight of Filofax paper. Janet Leather is not that heavy either.
  • Bulk factor: surprisingly low. The cover is A5 size but is less bulky than my personal size ring binders because there are no rings and I cannot overstuff. For me the problem with my ring binders has never been size but thickness. The fact that I like 30mm rings and overstuffing means they end up feeling like a brick. Totally my fault of course!
  • Design: See below


The features I have loved the most so far (in order) are

  1.  the extra bookmarks are my favourite of all the options I chose – the Cousin has 4 calendar sections yet the Hobonichi covers have two bookmarks. I chose three because I only really use the monthly, weekly and daily. They are the perfect length and really make a difference
  2. the full length wallet pocket. I pop single papers in there during the course of the day and then file them etc when I get to my office. This means they are not scrunched up in my bag and are easy to find.
  3. extra poppers and longer clasp. These are so useful if you need to expand the cover. Some Filofaxes have them (for example the Belmont), as do some Mulberry covers. I wish they were more readily available
  4. credit card pockets. This pocket constellation is informally known as ‘Janet pockets’ by Van Der Spek because I have them on all my custom covers, no matter whether it is a ring binder or a TN cover. Even if you don’t have credit cards to put in them, it is an easy way to categorise your bits of paper. Have one pocket for each category (I always have my travel card receipt in one, discount vouchers separated according to shop) or do them according to date (I sometimes put discount vouchers in the order they expire)
  5. secretarial pocket. What is nice about this is that you can lift it up to see what is inside. I chose a combination of secretarial and fixed slip pockets to show what options are available but if I had to do it again, I would choose secretarial pockets on both sides.
  6. outward facing slip pockets. I have always loved these because it is easy to slip things in without opening your cover the whole way. You just undo the clasp and slide it in.

If you are interested in this, you can find the Codex on the Van Der Spek webshop. You can also join our Van Der Spek fan group on Facebook where people can help you choose colours, leather, design and guide you through the purchasing process if you feel overwhelmed by all the different choices. Van Der Spek is also on Instagram. Naturally you can ask me any questions you like by commenting below or using the comment form in the right hand sidebar.


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. I use the ‘Pencil Board’ (one of the Hobonichi Accessories) with my Hobonichis. The A5 Cousin Avec is for my daily journaling this year (Techo sized last year), and the Weeks for my Daily Planning. As I use fountain pens for journaling, I like the firm base the pencil board provides. It also takes the place of a bookmark. I actually have 2 pencil boards in the A5, one behind the daily page and the other behind the current week. Orders open tomorrow, and I am looking forward to getting my 2018 books! This will be my 5th year using Hobonichi and I can’t imagine swapping to another system. I’m even considering buying one to use at work even though we are provided with diaries.

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