23 March 2016

William Hannah - The Notebook/Planner

I was in conversation with someone in Toronto the other day and he was asking what it was I blogged about.... Oh no I thought what will they think... So I sent them the link to Philofaxy.

They came back with a link to a friend of theirs who had created a notebook/planner product. It is a customisable disc bound notebook/planner, but the way in which the discs are linked is different compared to the Arc disc bound books. So I went and had a look for myself and I was quite impressed with what I saw.

The brand name is William Hannah Ltd, they are based in England and their website is very detailed and I was able to message the company to get answers to one or two questions about the products and their responses came back very quickly.

The cover is made from Italian leather and is available in 5 different exterior colours and in total there are 15 different colour combinations of exterior/interior colour. The interior is in a suede finish. It looks well made and should last a life time.

The mechanism is based on a disc system but the discs are slotted on to a bar, this gives the system some rigidity not present in other disc binding systems and I think this is a definite improvement. The spacing is similar to the Staples Arc disc system but the holes in the paper are a slightly different shape. The discs are made with stainless steel so they won't rust.

The paper and inserts use good quality 100gsm paper. It is described as having a smooth finish, so it should accept fountain pen ink quite well. Naturally this will vary depending on the nib width and type of ink.

The number of inserts available include a week per page diary, undated week planners, lined paper, plain paper, graph and dotted pages, there is also a sample pack. These are all at very reasonable priced for A5 inserts on good quality paper.

Check out the launch video from last year. 

The website: http://www.williamhannah.com

The Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamHannahUK/

You Tube Channel:

Have you ever used a disc bound planner/notebook?

Thank you to William Hannah for permission to use their images in this post which are their copyright of course. 


  1. This is beautiful !
    I'm a fervent disc bound notebook user (The Belgian Atoma). I'd love to try out this system ! I'm volunteering to do a review of this Steve ! Do you think they would lend us one ? Sabine :)

    1. I have one on order :) So I will be doing a more detailed review of the notebook and the paper and the ordering process in the near future.

  2. Looks good!

    I was just thinking of experimenting with a disc bound combination - an Organised Mum diary cover with a staple arc inside.

    Cheap and cheerful, but if I find it works this William Hannah setup might be near ideal.

    Steve - do you know if they would have any plans to add to the customizations? I always find a use for slip pockets :)

  3. I love arc system. I find more comfy than spiral bound. In arc system you can add any paper sheet you want, using a normal arc puncher. Of course i used only economic arc planner as staple and happy planner, but now i'm going to see this website. Thanks for this review

  4. Looks beautiful but how do you add other documents or your own print outs? Is there a hole punch?

  5. Interesting product....Thanks for sharing it, Steve....

    Looks like they are nicely done....

    Like the disc mechanism, looks stout....

    Really look forward to your review....

    Just scanned website and unless I've overlooked it, find some info is lacking.....

    For example, they don't have a good set of images for the different colors of the outer leather, just some small solid color squares.

    Think price is OK, given the handwork involved and made in England, but I'd like to have a good idea of what the leather I'm selecting (especially, for a bespoke one...) is like before I see it arrive in a package.

    Also, no closure strap available on binders. Would be nice if there is option for strap.

    As others mentioned, what punch can we use if we want to add our own inserts? Will my Levenger punch work?

    Some nice inserts, but only see weekly diary pages, no daily page option.....

    So, overall, seems like a good start for a product line, but not fully baked yet.....

    Again, look forward to your review soon...


    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your positive comments, and for taking the time to look through the website.

      In answer to your point about the leather colours, the leather and suede that we use for the custom notebooks is the same as the off-the-shelf notebooks - there are potentially 45 combinations (5 leather x 9 suede), so we only sell 15 off-the-shelf, and make the others available through a custom build process (although that means you can also choose your stitch colour and add a monogram). If you visit the main notebook pages, there are hi-res photos of the leather, and then the coloured squares in the customisation process are simple representations of these. The feel of the leather is lovely, though - a point that I hope Steve will agree with when his review notebook arrives ;-)

      You are also right that our range can still be developed further - and that is very much the plan. I have so many great ideas and things that I would love to develop, but I had to draw a line and get the notebooks to market, otherwise my obsessive attention to detail would have meant that I would not launch the complete product range until some time in 2020 :-)

      If there is any further information I can provide, please let me know.


    2. Hi David,

      Thank you for your reply and input...appreciate it.

      Please note that I fully understand your situation of needing/wanting to get your product out there and develop it further over time. Makes a lot of sense, business-wise.

      Understood about the leather selections.

      My main point is that I'd like to see a page that has larger (maybe around 5 - 6cm square photos of the actual exterior leather choices next to one another so I can really understand what the leathers look like.

      You do a good job of illustrating what the standard interior suede leathers look like. So, unless I've just missed seeing it on your website, the other option for showing the exterior leather selections is to have a page with the 'flip side'(ie, exterior leather) of the binders shown.

      If you can let us know the hole to hole spacing of your inserts, I could check my Levenger Circa hole punch and see if it would work with your binders.


  6. YEAH! My favorite colors. SOLD! I love notebooks. I love the new style rings. I don't like the current arc disc systems out there. I could have used these 30 year ago in grade school.

  7. Looks beautiful but how do you add other documents or your own print outs? Is there a hole punch?

  8. There are a couple of similar notebook reviews over on gadgeteer(dot)com....in case nobody has spotted them

    1. Here as well http://penpaperpencil.net/atoma-and-arc-notebook-systems/ we linked to this on on Travellers Notebook Times last week.

  9. Hi Everyone.

    Thank you so much for the positive comments - it is wonderful to engage with such an informed and appreciative community of users.

    Unfortunately we do not have our own punch at the moment, and although it is on the long-term development plan, it is probably more likely next year than this. The profile of our rings is most similar to the Atoma system, and their punch works very well for our notebooks. The profile of the Arc rings is slightly taller/rounder/narrower but the spacing is the same. I understand that pages punched with an ARC punch will fit, but the page turning experience may not be quite as smooth as our own paper/ring combination. I will visit our local Staples tomorrow and see if I can buy one of their punches and give it a go, and report back here.

    With all of the other requests for inserts/slip folders/etc, I am certainly open to suggestions - the diary pack didn't exist until a customer asked for it, and although I cannot promise, I would always be happy to evaluate any suggested inserts and templates.

    If anyone has further questions, please do not hesitate to drop me an e-mail (the support address is in the Contact section at the bottom of the website front page), or leave a comment here, and I will check back regularly. I am based in the UK though, so I may be sleeping when many of you are awake, so please bear with me...

    Thank you again for your comments, and for allowing me to write an overly-long reply - I let my passion get the better of my brevity sometimes :-)

    (Founder of William Hannah Limited)

  10. David, I was at the Roundhouse on Sunday and never saw your stall, i'm so annoyed with myself!

    1. Oh no Dawn - what a shame.

      It was a lovely event, and we met such a lot of very nice people....

  11. As promised, I visited our local Staples store today, and purchased one of their ARC punches. I have tested it out (it seems a very nice robust punch, and very good value for money) and the spacing of the holes matches our ring spacing pretty well.

    However, my concern, as stated previously, remains, i.e. that the profile of the ARC rings/holes is taller, rounder and slightly narrower than ours, and this reduces the smoothness of the paper turing experience. The holes made by the ARC punch are about 2mm narrower than our own, and whilst this doesn't sound a lot, it does mean that paper punched with the ARC punch catches on the side of some of the rings - this is what reduces the smoothness of the page turning. In summary, ARC punched pages do fit, and they do turn, but not as smoothly as our own.

    We do try to price our paper supplies as reasonably as possible and I would be happy to consider any new layouts that would appeal to multiple users. Our paper is also a very nice, 100gsm stock, which writes very well with Fountain Pens, and we have had some very positive feedback in this regard.

    We also sell packs of plain, pre-punched A5 paper which may be suitable for home printing, but this will very much depend on the way that each individual printer feeds paper through, as to whether this is an option for every customer.

    I hope this has helped to answer the question, and apologies if I have gone-on a bit, but it is my policy to be totally honest about every aspect of our notebooks :-)


    1. Thanks for your follow-up, David.

      Think everyone here appreciates hearing info directly from the source and from someone like you that really cares about delivering a great product that is just right.....

      Look forward to seeing your products develop further.


  12. Oh, I love William's Instagram. The quotes and accompanying thoughts are always such a treat. Discbounds hold a special place in my heart, I've used the Martha Stewart ones and my boyfriend the Arc ones. We would drool over the Levenger Circa ones whenever we'd receive the catalog. Love the main cover and the rod design - super clever! :)

  13. I am interested if the Levenger/Circa punched paper works in your disc system, I like the look of the rod and obviously being British made I would love to give you my business. I avoided the Arc system as I really enjoy the selection of Discs provided by Levenger, such choices! I use my system to present to clients ( Im a designer) and I always try and tailor the colour scheme to the feel of the project.
    I see someone already asked twice if the Levenger/Circa punch works with your system so please confirm or deny whether it does please. Then I can hot foot it over and buy up all your stock!!!