THINKERS Notebook: Pen and Paper Meets Digital Collaboration

Products Reviews
(Image from thinkersnotebook.com)

Notebooks are meant for writing and creating, but they aren’t generally thought of as a means of collaboration… until now. The THINKERS Notebook, while still an analog notebook at heart, was designed specifically for people who want to easily share their thoughts and ideas with others.

What is the THINKERS Notebook?

The THINKERS Notebook, at its heart, is simply a good quality physical (analog) notebook. But there are a few features and additions that really set it apart from most notebooks.

  • Lay-flat 9”x6” design allows for compact use on a work surface
  • 50 sheets of paper
  • Disc binding allows for page re-ordering
  • Both a dot grid (5 dots = 1”) and a lined column (9/32” spacing) page layout (one on the front and the other on the back of each page)
  • Premium 100 gsm Double A white paper
  • Easy 100-page re-fills available for purchase
  • Free access to THINKERS mobile app for digitizing and collaborating with others on your handwritten notes
The front and back of each page give you two different page formats from which to choose (Image from thinkersnotebook.com)

The Digital Features

It may seem a bit strange to be talking about the digital features of paper-based notebooks, but we are in 2020 after all. Yes, this analog notebook has a ton of digital features when paired with the free THINKERS Notebook mobile app (for both iOS and Android). Below are the main features of the THINKERS Notebook when used in conjunction with the free mobile application:

  • Secure cloud storage of all your notes
  • Intelligent and automatic tagging of your notes
  • Real-time commenting system
  • One-click capture

The intelligent tagging mentioned above works with the four icons to the right of the “Date” field at the bottom of each page. Each of the four icons is already assigned to a defined tag (the paper and pen is “Notes,” the light bulb is “Ideas,” the funnel is “Refinement,” and the two crossing arrows are “Share”). Simply mark through any or all of those 4 icons on the page and that page of notes will automatically get tagged when scanned in by the app. The benefit of tags is that you can categorize your notes into various categories and then filter the notes within the app to show only certain tags (which makes it a lot easier to go back and find the note you are looking for). The THINKERS Notebook also has the ability for you to define and use custom tags.

Automatically assign tags to each notebook page and then filter by tags to find your notes easier (Image from thinkersnotebook.com)

Real-Time Commenting System

The feature that truly sets this product apart from any other notebook is how the commenting system was implemented. They put it right out there in the name of the product, THINKERS Notebook, a notebook that is meant for sharing and collaborating on ideas. So of course they are going to build in the capability for others to comment on the notes you share with them. But they took commenting one step further and allowed you to share your notes with someone else and allow that person to comment on your notes, all without having to sign into a website or an application. This is a really nice feature as it removes a barrier that most systems have, which is the walled-garden of the system itself. So how does this work? It’s pretty simple, really. The first step is to digitize your note or notes with the free THINKERS Notebook mobile app and then utilize the share icon to send a web link to someone you want to collaborate with. When that user opens up the URL, they are taken to a website that allows them to select parts of your notes and add comments, all without having to login to an application. The comments are added to the notes in real time (they show up on your iOS version of the note immediately), but in most cases you won’t be viewing the note concurrently so the app will send you a notification that you have a new comment.

This is the view you get when someone sends you a URL for a note you want to share. Just touch the place on the note you want to comment on and make your comment. (Image by Skip Owens)
After you have made comments, the images above are what the sender sees in the app. There is a list of all the comments that have been received and the option to view what each comment is. (Image by Skip Owens)

The reason I find this particular feature so compelling is that it removes as many barriers as possible from the collaboration process. Collaboration can be difficult even in the most optimal environments, so removing friction from that process is huge. I also really like how the combination of analog input and digital storage and collaboration straddles the best of both worlds.

More to Come

The THINKERS Notebook was released in October 2019, but apparently that was only the beginning. Sean Jackson, the creator/maker of the THINKERS Notebook, has recently announced that starting this summer over on Product Hunt they will be launching a new version of the THINKERS Notebook. Check it out over at Product Hunt and sign up for updates and you will receive a 40% off discount on the new notebook when it is released. It looks like they have been taking customer feedback and are looking to evolve the THINKERS Notebook with additions like a new app and handwriting recognition (OCR).

Verdict

Overall the THINKERS Notebook has a great weight and feel to the paper and the form factor is compact and handy for creative sketching and taking notes in lots of environments (in particular, near the keyboard of your computer or laptop). The disc binding system is secure yet versatile giving you the ability to easily reorganize the order of the pages within the notebook (which makes it a viable option for people keeping a commonplace book). And finally the technology that goes along with the THINKERS Notebook really does add a lot of capability to the notebook for those looking to collaborate or to digitize their notes.

Pros:

  • Nice high quality paper with each page having the option of lined or dot grid backgrounds
  • “Title” and “Date” fields on each page
  • The perfect size for quick notes, ideas, and sketches
  • Disc binding allows for page order to be shuffled without damaging the paper
  • The ability to solicit comments from people who don’t have the app is nothing short of magical

Cons:

  • At $19.99 the initial notebook is a bit pricey (but refills sheets are available for a significant discount)
  • The built-in support (Knowledge Base) only has a single entry, so not a lot of built in help
  • No OCR (optical character recognition) support (but is coming in the next version)

The THINKERS Notebook is available now for $19.99 over at their website.

Disclaimer: I was given a THINKERS Notebook for the purpose of this review, but they had no input into the review content.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

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1 thought on “THINKERS Notebook: Pen and Paper Meets Digital Collaboration

  1. Thank you so much for this review, Skip, we appreciate it!

    We’re here to help with any questions anyone might have so we’ll watch this space to help if needed. 🙂

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