The people at Field Notes, the producers of the popular pocket-sized notebooks, seem to enjoy making limited-run editions. They’ve made so many, in fact, that anyone trying to collect them all is likely to wind up both crazy and broke. Getting your hands on the rarer books can often just be a matter of right place, right time.
Case in point, for the past few years Field Notes has been creating custom notebooks for the XOXO Festival, an art and technology conference in Portland, Oregon. While these special notebooks can be easily obtained at the conference, it’s a mad rush when they are sold online afterwords. And for the 2015 XOXO edition, it only took about 45-minutes before they became out of stock on the Field Notes website. So, if you weren’t online during this 45-minute window or couldn’t make it to the festival, you are pretty much out of luck. Unless, of course, you’re willing to pay a premium.
Originally sold for $10, a sealed 3-pack will currently fetch 40 to 50 dollars on eBay. Setting aside the artwork for a moment, there’s not anything particularly special about these books that make it worth that price. They contain 60# white paper with a light gray grid, they’re the standard 3.5 inch x 5.5 inch size, and they even use the usual “practical application” list on the inside back cover. Aside from hardcore Field Notes collectors who covet the notebook’s scarcity, there’s really nothing here to warrant a 400% price increase.
I will admit, however, that it’s hard to ignore those awesome cover designs, created by artist Brendan Monroe. If you’re so inclined, check out Monroe’s Instagram feed. He creates a lot of these black-and-white topographical paintings, and it’s easy to lose a chunk of time scrolling through his artwork. In fact, one big upside to carrying these designs in my pocket was that I got to color them in!
Overall, it’s a good special edition, if only for the artwork, and I hope to see Field Notes using other painters (or even more of Monroe’s designs) in the future. It really is a good way to discover artists, as I never would have otherwise heard of Brendan Monroe. Let’s just hope that next time they print a larger run.
- This is the fourth XOXO notebooks that field notes created. In 2012, they made a purple book. In 2013, it was fuchsia. In 2014, they made a “Glitch” edition. You can see an image of these books here.
- Speaking of the Glitch edition, I don’t have a set of these, but they are probably one of my favorite Field Notes designs. Check out the review of the XOXO Glitch edition at The Well Appointed Desk.
- Brendan Monroe has a painting at Facebook HQ in the same style as these notebooks.