Review of my custom Van Der Spek A5 Codex Hobonichi Cousin Cover


I have been in this  Red Janet Leather Van Der Spek A5 Codex cover for the Hobonichi Cousin for a number of months now and I am still loving it. As I have used it though, I have thought about the features I have really used and the features I wish I had added.

I went to town on the design because I wanted to be able to not only show the leather, but also all the design options Van Der Spek offers to customers. So, the Codex cover includes:

  • Bontex stiffener on the back cover (not full length wallet pocket). It provides some structure but is still very flexible [I am so happy with the stiffness/floppiness of the cover. It is flexible but not totally floppy]
  • full length back wallet pocket [I am thrilled with this and use it all the time because a number of A4 sheets slide right in without adding bulk. I cannot imagine having a cover without it]
  • outward facing slip pockets on both sides [I have not used these as much as I thought, because I have so many other pockets to use]
  • ‘Janet pockets’ (ie pockets with credit card slots from top to bottom) on both sides [I have not used these as much as I thought, because I have so many other pockets to use, plus the bits of paper I store tend to be bigger than credit card size. I would use them more in an A6 size]
  • 3 popper fasteners and an extra long clasp to allow for expansion [these have been brilliant. If I had to do it again though, I would have asked for two poppers instead of three, or three and a longer clasp because then you wouldn’t see left hand popper]
  • secretarial pocket [I have used this more than the slip pockets as it is easier to get things in and out and to see what is in there]
  • two slip pockets [See above. If I had to design another one, I would have two secretarial pockets instead because they are easier to use]
  • embossing [I am so glad I had embossing. It is not something I look at and live by every day but the embossing makes it mine.]
  • 3 bookmarks [extra bookmarks are the features I have used the most and I love them. Using hindsight, I would probably have ordered four bookmarks because a Cousin has four calendars. I would probably order them in different colours or with tags at the ends because sometimes they end up in the wrong order, but I love my multiple bookmarks and use them all the time. The leather has worn well and has not loosened or worn at the point the strips are attached to the cover. I would also consider having them longer so I could knot charms on the ends, which would make them easy to tell apart]
  • two pen loops [I use the one pen loop all the time but have not used the second one as much. If I had to do it again I would probably ask for the loops to be designed as a closure as it is an easy way to store your pen]

There are so many other options I could have added – zipped pocket, outside slip pocket, elastic closure. The list is endless! Looking back though, some things (as mentioned above) that I would have done differently

  • I would have had only two poppers or three poppers and an extra long clasp. This means you would never see any of the poppers when the cover is closed. At the moment the left one is visible when on the largest setting
  • I would definitely have had an outside slip pocket
  • I would have ordered at least four bookmarks and requested different colours or with tags at the ends to distinguish them
  • I would have chosen to have fewer credit card pockets and secretarial pockets on both sides.

The leather is absolutely beautiful! It has the same smooshy soft feel of the original Janet Leather, but is a gorgeous bright red. It is looking better the more I use it. There has been no colour loss at all.

If you find the VDS website a bit daunting to navigate (it is easy to become overwhelmed if you are new to VDS because of the customisation and leather options), drop Petra Van Der Spek an email at – refer to this post and take it from there. Petra is amazing to deal with and VDS customer service is second to none.

Author: Janet Carr

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

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