Friday, May 07, 2010

Package From America

When I arrived home from work today, this was sitting on my door step:

I’d been waiting for it since last month, it having made a rather circuitous route to my home. First, I’d spent several days tracking it down on the Internet. Then, because about an eighth of the world doesn’t know the other seven eights exist, I had to have it shipped to my son in the US so he could send it on to me.

And this is what I was waiting so expectantly for:

Yes, they’re paper pads.

But not just any paper pads, these are number 30-721 Ampad memo books. Aren’t they beauties?

I’ve been using them for as long as I can remember. They have 50 lined sheets and are small enough to fit neatly in a shirt pocket or the back pocket of my jeans. For size and convenience, I have never found anything to rival them. I call them my Perfect Paper Pocket Pads.

Back in the States, I could buy them at Wal Mart, and whenever I found them I always bought out the lot. When I came to the UK, I brought enough over with me last, well, about eight years. And so, eight years later, I began my Internet search, only to discover Ampad no longer makes them. The Ampad representative, however, was able to put me onto the company that had bought out their stock.

So now I’m flush with PPP Pads, just as I found another (I’m such a paper pad slut).

This new pad won’t take the place of my cherished PPP Pads; it isn’t like I’ve found a new love that I’m abandoning a long-time partner for. It’s more like a mistress, one I acquired by accident.

This is how it happened: Last weekend, I was short-sighted enough to leave the flat with nothing to write on. I’m sure you’ve been there, and know the gnawing panic that comes from being unable to jot notes on the run. So I slipped into the local book shop, grabbed a pad from the display, paid and left.

It wasn’t until later that I began to realize how much I enjoyed taking notes with it. I usually hate to write in longhand, but here I was writing outlines, plot sketches and even short articles. The book was small but held ample, sturdy pages that begged to be written on. In the back was a pocket for holding odds and ends, a serial number on a sticker and a leaflet telling the history of the pad.

It was a Moleskine product, and the story behind the notebook was every bit as inspiring as the price was breathtaking. Having come to understand that they are considered the fillet mignon (with a side of broiled potatoes and French-cut green bean) of notebooks, I belatedly checked the receipt; it had cost ten quid. (About $15)

I didn’t let that put me off, I just considered it a nice gift to myself.

So now I carry two notebooks; my PPP Pad for writing messages and organizing my ToDo lists, and my Moleskine notebook, for jotting ideas and letting my imagination wander into places where a word processor can’t fit. They seem to work together well. But I haven’t introduced them yet; I’m not sure how well they would get along.


  1. very nice. :)
    listen, a stupid do you insert pictures throughout the blog, in the middle and wherever you want? Is this a blogger or a different site?

  2. Thanks, Scary. And yes, the photos can be inserted via Blogger. I'll send you an e-mail.

  3. Anonymous8:15 pm

    I love notebooks. I have a large number of different ones in use all the time. Small, large, squared, lined, blank. Each has a different purpose. I keep a couple of blogs too, but my paper notebooks are my first love.

  4. Yes, there is something about a nice clean notebook; it's so full of possibilities.

  5. Mike,

    I just came across your post about the old Ampad memo pads. Can you share the contact information for the company that bought out the stock? I too have been in a futile search for those little guys. I agree with you - Moleskines are the best!

  6. I wrote to the Ampad folks, this was back in February, and this was the response I received:

    Thank you for writing Ampad.
    Wal Mart unfortunately did drop this product 3 years ago.
    You can try website : for Ampad # 30-721
    Not sure if they go to the UK or not ?
    Ampad is sold out.

    I think I ordered them off of the menards website. They are not making new ones, just selling the stock they acquired from Ampad, so I don't know if they have any left.

    Good luck!

  7. Found your blog when searching for Ampad 30-271 notepads. I'm a hobbyist leather carver, and have made several western style notepads sized for these Ampad refills over the years. (Ex: Also like you I was VERY disappointed to recently learn that Ampad has discontinued making them. I have located a potential replacement though; USA Custom Pad Corp. ( - I've ordered some of their NPR 24RW white, 2-1/4 X 4-1/4 lined pads. They are 1/16th inch smaller than the Ampad notepad refills, but otherwise appear to be very similar. If they are, in fact acceptable, I'll follow up here with a note to that effect. (The site has lined and plain pads in white and ivory...)

  8. Lou, I can't believe someone found this post after all this time, but glad you did. I am still struggling with trying to find a suitable replacement and that link you sent looks like it might fill the bill. I'll have to do a test order from them and see. Thanks!

  9. Mike, I just received my order from (I'm going to refer to these pads as npr) I had ordered the minimum (10 each) of the ivory and white pads. The total S&H charges inside the U.S. were $3.95.

    The pads arrived inside a bubble-pack, kraft envelope, and had no shipping damage. Inside the envelope, the twenty pads were packaged in four heat-sealed plastic envelopes, containing five pads each.

    There is one major difference between the ivory and white pads, (other than the obvious difference in color) - the white pads also have a protective cover, made from a mid-weight, light-gray woven textured card-stock. If you are using the pads without a separate leather or vinyl cover, the card-stock cover would be a definite 'plus' for you. If you use the pads within a separate cover, then the card-stock cover tends to get in the way, and you'll probably end up removing it with small, sharp scissors.

    In both pads, the backing is a stiffer, better quality stock than with the ampad. The pads are constructed using a single staple, glued, and have a woven textured, color-coordinated tape. And, in both cases, the sheets are perforated, and tear cleanly, and 'crisply.'

    The paper accepts ink well, and does not bleed even when using Sharpie fine-point or extra-fine-point permanent markers. There is some bleed-through when using the Sharpie markers, but it is a little less than with the Ampad tablets (which do exhibit some bleeding when using the Sharpie markers.)

    The only other obvious difference between the Ampad and the npr pads are the line spacing; the Ampad has 4mm spacing, whereas the npr pads are 5 lines per inch (5.5mm spacing.) I find this larger spacing a little more comfortable to use.

    All-in-all, these replacement note-pads are very usable, are of good quality (better than the ampads that they are replacing,) and are affordable.

  10. Follow-up:

    An image of the npr pads is available at

    The leftmost pad is the ivory; the middle pad is the white pad, with its cover, and the right-most pad is a white pad, with the cover trimmed away.

    Also, re-read the last post, and would like to clarify that the ampad exhibits some surface bleeding when using the Sharpie markers, in addition to the slightly worse bleed-through.

    The better bleed-through should probably be expected with the npr pads, as they have 40 sheets per pad, whereas the ampads have 50 sheets per pad, and the pads are approximately the same thickness.

  11. Argh! Typo!

    Link should be:

  12. Lou,

    Thanks for the review, the npr notebooks sound great, and just what I was looking for. And thanks for re-sending the link, I did check the first one and found it didn't work. I still have a few of the Ampads left -- I did get a big order -- but I think I'll order a batch of npr pads this week just to check them out and have some on hand.

    Thanks again.

    1. Anonymous10:33 pm

      Thanks to all,

      You have just saved me a lot of time. I'm down to my last 3 Ampad 30-721s and have been searching the Internet for about 10 minutes. Although I had already found, I was still hoping to find the originals. No need for that now. I can live with only 40 pages per tablet in view of the improved paper quality.

    2. Glad you found this! I know what it's like to be bereft of Ampad's ;)