I have been sitting on this post for some time not entirely sure how to approach it. I want to share my thoughts on the stationery limited edition, where I have had experience with them and how I now approach them.
Limited editions are a popular marketing tool used by numerous stationery brands. It is not uncommon to see brands using a limited edition product as part of their standard offering, an annual event or to celebrate an anniversary. In the past I have found myself being pulled in by the lure and urgency that surrounds a limited edition product. In some instances the limited edition may be different with a unique feature, however in other cases the limited edition contains purely cosmetic adjustments.
Field Notes colors and limited editions
The most obvious brand that comes to mind and where I have had the most experience is with Field Notes. They have built a business around offering limited run seasonal colors release where each notebook has a different design and sometimes a different feature. This is where my almost anxious state of snagging a limited edition product started. I used to buy multiple packs of Field Notes after a new release to ensure that I bagged enough of these notebooks. This was without even using one first, my purchase decision was based on a web page, a video, community chatter and the brand alone.
Alongside buying silly quantities of current colors editions I had also been trying to acquire older colors releases looking for editions I believed I would like and that were talked about. I was successful to a point but didn’t pursue this with dogged determination. I got stung a couple of years ago when I managed to secure a pack of the Northerly edition, paying far more than you should for 3 little notebooks, but nowhere near the crazy levels I have since seen, and then really disliking the notebook paper inside.
I started to question my enjoyment and desire for the Field Notes colors editions when I looked back at some of the recent releases. The differences to each edition were small, the internal paper stock was often the same as the standard, readily available Kraft notebooks but perhaps with a slightly altered grid. The cover design was definitely different with a heavier or prettier cover stock with a cool design and maybe there were some different staples. But did this warrant me buying three or four packs of these notebooks only to have them sit in a cupboard? I started to question why I was buying so many of the seasonal release notebooks and where this urgency had come from.
So I changed tact. I didn't renew my subscription because I wasn't using the notebooks I had in my possession as fast as I was buying them. I had been buying enough for a years worth of use each time a new colors edition was released. I also stopped taking part in the mad scramble for those editions outside of the seasonal releases. I decided to stop buying what I didn't think I would use.
Alongside this change in my buying behaviour I also discovered a love of the Travelers Notebook. I like that I can use my fountain pens on the Midori paper, something I didn’t enjoy doing with Field Notes. I buy the notebooks that I need, usually ruled and plain paper which were not common with the Field Notes colors editions, and I don’t hoard as Travelers Notebook don't have limited edition notebooks. It turns out this has become my paper brand of choice.
Limited Edition Fountain Pens
Field Notes aren’t the only brand who create limited edition products and it would be unfair to just recount my experiences with them. The other area where I have fallen for the limited edition buzz is with fountain pens. Lamy is one example of a brand that release a different limited edition Safari and AL Star each year. This year for example it is the Lamy Safari Dark Lilac and the Lamy AL Star Charged Green. Previously I was not that concerned with these limited editions but in the height of my limited edition fever I found myself wanting to make sure I picked one up before they sold out, despite the fact that I already owned a couple of each just not in that years colours.
The Lamy Safari Dark Lilac would usually be a pen that would really appeal to me, however I took a step back, reviewed my current Lamy collection, 2 Safari's and 1 AL Star (modest I know), and concluded I didn't need another Safari. As a sort of compromise I decided to buy a pack of the ink cartridges to use in one of my existing Lamy fountain pens as I enjoy using purple inks and this one appeared to be good. I am far more likely to use the ink than to use several Lamy fountain pens at once.
Lamy are not the only brand that create limited edition fountain pens but they are one of the most affordable options available and the one I have interacted with the most. I bought the AL Star Copper Orange partly because I liked the colour but also because my local stationer actually had one in stock and I was able to see this pen in the flesh. Pilot, Pelikan and Kaweco are just some of the other fountain pen brands that have created limited edition fountain pens in the past.
Other limited edition options
Field Notes and Lamy have run limited edition items for some time however we have seen other brands venturing into the world of the limited edition. Last year Blackwing launched volumes editions of their increasingly popular pencils and this year Write Notepads launched a subscription service with limited edition releases. This suggests that the limited edition model works and that the buzz generated around a strong stationery brand within the market makes this marketing tool a worthwhile exercise. A keen stationery addict could very easily have over $300 on seasonal subscriptions plus additional spending on non subscription based models, such as the Lamy fountain pens, and that is without considering the addicts general stationery wish list.
This post is not intended to be a rant or dismissal of the limited edition stationery item. During my stationery journey and acquisition of new products I had started to notice that limited edition didn’t mean I was missing out on a unique feature.
I am not writing off the limited edition and nor am I saying I won't buy a limited edition item in the future. What I am concluding is that I will not be buying these items without fully considering them first. In the past I have fallen for the lure of the limited edition without considering if I would actually use the products I was buying and I have found that my enjoyment of stationery items comes in the use, not in the acquisition.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on limited edition stationery products and if you agree with my views expressed in this post.