Scratch Notebooks (Draft)

Scratch Notebooks (Draft)

Chris Murphy · 20 September, 2020

Summary: In this pricing walkthrough, I’ll explore how I’d approach reimagining and repricing a 2012 product, repositioning it for sale in 2020. This is me thinking though the pricing and positioning for the scratch notebooks I’ll be selling at

My super-talented friend, Andy McMillan, sold five scratch notebooks for $10 in 2012 via his ‘designer supplies store’: Draft Supply Co. He described them as follows:

Your ideas should be celebrated, not your notebooks. They shouldn't be collectors’ items, or more famous than their owner. They should be filled with ideas, and your ideas want to be messy. —Andy McMillan

As a designer, I see things differently. Why not celebrate your ideas and your notebooks?

Your ideas should be celebrated, so too should your notebooks (and if they're collectors’ items, even better!). —Chris Murphy

Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks reside in the British Museum – over 500 years after his death – and we celebrate those. Perhaps you’re the next da Vinci? (In which case we need to get you some scratch notebooks tout-de-suite!)


The Scratch Notebook System

When Unit Editions launched their Kickstarter to publish Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973–1982 – I backed it instantly. Ever since I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1992 + 94, I've kept my notebooks using a personal organisational system

I love process and I believe process can and should be celebrated, which is why – when McMillan moved to the US – I bought all of his scratch notebooks. I'll be selling some of them soon, and I thought a walkthrough of my pricing might help others.

A Pricing Walkthrough

In this pricing walkthrough I’ll explore how I’d reimagine and reprice these notebooks for sale in 2020. I think McMilland priced the notebooks too low and I'm increasing the price.

You can see the scratch notebooks as McMillan positioned them via the wonderful Wayback Machine. You should probably take a round-trip there, to look at the scratch notebooks and the way they were positioned, before reading this.

I’ll be building a similar website to sell these notebooks (which I’ve bought lock, stock and barrel), but I’m adding value to the notebooks by including additional touchpoints and downloadable templates.

Reimagining the Product

I think five scratch notebooks for $10 is a little on the low side as I need to return a reasonable profit. I think Field Notes’ pricing – $9.95 for three Kraft notebooks – is closer. Field Notes notebooks are considerably smaller, but their brand is considerably larger and more well-established.

Thinking long-term, there's no reason why I can't build a brand around drawing materials aimed at designers. I just need to start.


Touchpoints Matter

I'd like to include little gifts – postcards, stickers, handwritten notes… – in our packaging, and I need to factor these in and cover their cost. I'd also like to consider associated products, other products a designer would use, for example, selling pen loops with The School of Design branding from Papelote.

The product range and the touchpoints are important because they're a part of the overall brand experience, and their cost needs to be covered. The kind of gifts I have in mind:

  • Stickers
  • Postcards
  • NFC Stickers
  • Pencils
  • Badges
  • Post-Its (Branded)

Lastly, the Draft Supply Co. scratch notebooks were essentially ‘just’ notebooks, albeit beautifully printed. I think there’s an opportunity to use product storytelling to develop the brand further. (This slidedeck, by me, at Notist explains Product Storytelling.)

I think I need to:

  1. Share more of the story of the printing process. The notebooks were printed by Oddi, a highly-respected printers with very high production values. We should share that story.
  2. Dive into the details (paper, print…) using some of the strategies that Field Notes use, as I explored in my Paint a Product Picture slidedeck.
  3. Imagine how these notebooks might be considered as the heart of an organisational system for designers. (Based on the system I use, which I'll explain.)

In closing: There’s an opportunity to reimagine the product, using product storytelling to position them at a higher price point.

This whole entry needs imagery. I need illustrations here or it’s too dry. I can use some from my Field Notes product storytelling slide deck. (Ensure all images are 16:9.)


Selling a System

I'd like to design and include downloadable and printable templates that extend the scratch notebooks purpose and value. Again, this adds value to the product, building out the story of the system and how I use it.

The downloadable and printable templates are inspired by two products: one imagined and designed, but never actually realised; and one real.

  1. In ~2008, I sketched out and artworked a set of grids for a series of bespoke printed scratch notebooks that would include a range of grids, from applied to absurd:
    • Dot Grid
    • Ruled
    • Diagonal / Isometric
    • Patterned
    • Calendar (Week, Month, Year)
    • Random / Experimental
    • Etc.
  2. In ~2019, I noticed Moleskine’s supplementary, membership-focused My Moleskine Beta, which makes a variety of templates for your Moleskins.