Staple’s Arc Notebook

Staple’s Arc Notebook

Arc System I recently received some Emergent Task Planner Pad returns from Amazon; whoever returned them just didn’t like them after opening the package, and they were still good. I’d forgotten how luxuriously thick the paper is, almost decadently so, and I’ve been using them instead of hand-drawing them every morning. I have been thinking it’s a darn shame I don’t have a suitable binder to archive my used sheets. So I went to Staples, our local office supply megastore, to see what they had in stock.

Arc Notebook I eventually stumbled upon their Arc Notebook System, which is very similar to Levenger’s Circa Notebook System. In fact, the two systems are compatible with each other according to this thread on Fountain Pen Network. The Levenger version, which precedes the Arc by many years, is quite expensive at $40 for the full-sized notebook. Staple’s Arc version was 40% off today, which dropped the price to $12.00. That was more like it.

Arc Notebook Thickness One thing I liked immediately about the Arc was the rigidity of the leather-bound front and back covers. I like stiffer notebook covers, because they are firmer backings for writing. I don’t want my notebook moving around on me when I’m writing. Most pad binders I saw today were plush but wimpy. Another advantage is that you can completely fold the cover back, like with a good double-wire binding, which takes up less space when you are at a crowded coffee shop.

Arc Punch After getting the notebook home, I had to figure out how much paper I could fit comfortably in it. The Arc comes with 60 pages of thin paper in it. I found it nasty, and removed all but 10 sheets of it. I had purchased some dividers, so I put one divider between that and one week’s worth of blank ETP paper (punched with the Arc Punch I also purchased for $39). I also added a 12″ ruler to the front to act as a dual-use strain relief, and a business card holder in the back. And that was all that would fit before the binder started to feel sloppy; following are the slop tests I used:

  • Does the notebook fold back without tension or threaten to pop up?
  • Does the topmost sheet of paper lie flat with the cover folded back?
  • Does the notebook thickness not exceed the ring diameter when laying at rest?

With just 7 pieces of ETP available, this means I have to transfer each sheet to another binder after a week, which is not a bad thing. It forces review of the week, after all. I probably need to buy another Arc notebook (40% off, after all) and a bunch of rings. It’s conceivable that I could also make my OWN out of regular cover stock, the punch, and a set of larger rings. Perhaps I will look into that option instead. Though still…40% off!!!

ETP Notebook First PageETP Notebook First PageNotebook Back Page I’m going to be giving this setup a try this week as my official planning notebook. My other notebook (the Cachet Classic Graph) will become my new modern spellbook for 2013, where I will write down thoughts related learning new subjects as I work. The inspiration for this is Jordan Mechner’s Prince of Persia journal, which took me back to the days when I used to actually write stuff down as a way of remembering it. By the end of my senior year, it had accrued some reputation on its own. There’s a few things I’d like to try with mixed media too (printouts, sketches) after seeing my friend K’s beautiful art journals.

Emergent Task Planner in Arc Notebook


  1. Avrum 12 years ago

    Ah the ARC… one of my better purchases. Looking forward to reading future posts about how you put this to good use (or not).

  2. Lynn O'Connor 12 years ago

    I’ve been using the ETPs in exactly this way, starting way back with Levenger’s wildly expensive Circa systemo (and first using my own printed out pages, then the pads purchased through Amazon), and more recently with Staples Arc system notebooks. For whatever reason, I stopped using this system regularly enough (partly because of Gcal and Omnifocus, i.e. digital systems) but seeing reminded me of how well it worked, and I’m going to use the method again, at least for a few weeks anyway. Whatever my current combination of systems, I loved seeing your pictures, and feel inspired.

  3. Paco 12 years ago

    In Staples Spain is not available yet… So, I am waiting to the next trip to London.

  4. Rhonda Smart 12 years ago

    I’ve been doing exactly this for quite a while. I have bought bigger rings but like to stay with the slimmer ones to force me to purge off to a file folder each week. I think you’ll love it.

    I think the ARC paper is nice enough (unless they recently changed it?) It certainly feels better than the recycled copy paper that I have to print my ETPs on. I did pick up some of the Martha Stewart paper and it’s also nice to write on.

    I think you’ll love it once you realize how flexible it is!

  5. Paco 11 years ago

    I’m sure also. I usually print some documents and put down some notes. So, I’m waiting to the chance to go to London in end of January or Febrary.

  6. Christopher Weuve 11 years ago

    The biggest problems I have had with ARC/Circa are both related to the size of the disks. I like to have a reasonably thick notebook, but (1) with bigger disks the covers have a tendency to slide vertically (i.e., the disks are not longer perpendicular to the cover), and (2) the thick disks make the notebook increasingly unwieldy (because, unlike a bound book but like a 3-ring binder, the thickness of the notebook also determines it’s width).

    The first attribute is annoying more than anything else, but the second is really a problem, and why I find myself constantly asking myself if it’s worth it.

    What I would like to see are elliptical disks for the larger sizes, say 2″x1″. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever tried this (although if I had a 3D printer and some CAD skillz I probably would).

    I think the Arc leather covers are actually superior to the Levenger covers, but I prefer the larger Circa notch over the Arc notch, so I found it worthwhile to shell out for the Levenger punch. Neither manufacturer has figured out that their plastic covers are subject to bowing when store vertically because the covers extend beyond the bottom of the paper.

  7. Ron Manke 11 years ago

    Thanks for this review. Very helpful!

    I recently bought an Arc (small version) and would love to use the ETP with it. Are you planning on making a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 size version for placement in the Arc?

    BTW, Thanks for this site! I just discovered it, and really like the articles!

  8. Cheryl 9 years ago

    Does Arc make an insertable alphabetic address pages?