Whitelines - great idea, tried it and gave up long before I ran out of pages.


Why so few long term reviews of  Whitelines notebooks and papers? Maybe customers are just not using them long enough? 


You can also watch my German YouTube video on my short lived BuJo experiment using the Leuchtturm1917 A6 Whitelines.

I am disappointed. It started great. I bought an A6 Leuchtturm 1917 Whitelines for my next bullet journal notebook. Noticing that Leuchtturm1917 were selling them a a really great price, I prepared to immediately order a few more - though fortunately I decided to hold off my purchase. My entousiasm quitckly waned the more I was writing pages. I looked at my other ready to use notebooks. I checked how many pages I completed, how long it would take to finish the notebook. Until I gave up and switched to the Jottbooks. Here is why...

I don't like hardcover notebooks and the lack of choices (colours, cover type). I don't like writing on that Whitelines paper anymore. I experienced differences between the top of a page and the bottom like with no other notebook so far. The first lines where good, then the ink got a bit weird, lighter, yet drying took even longer. Even when starting at the bottom, it seemed different compared to the top. Quite a bit of writing "real estate" is lost to the QR codes, the margins around the grid are quite a bit larger. That maybe not so important on larger formats, but A6 is small, 1cm here, 5mm there are significant relative to the small size of the A6 notebook. Initially I liked the look Whitelines paper, but overtime I associated everything I disliked with this paper with the look and therby initial appeal turned quickly faded away. My enthusiasm was replaced by frustration.

The ball pen experience is weird as well. I love writing with my Victorinox Signature swiss army knife. On this paper, the ball pen sinks in as if writing on a rubberized surface. I am exaggerating a little, but I am very sensitive with this, always was. 

I have not been using the app often. Not a surprise, as I did not intend to 100% digitize my Bullet Journal. The currently biggest selling point of Whitelines is the quick and easy scanning experience. For the few occasional scans, I can use other apps. They take a bit more time and so far I have not found a way to quickly get rid of the grid pattern. And they will become even better as more and more people scan everything using their phone. Just look at how superbly the Post-it app scans sticky notes brainstorm boards and converts the handwriting to digital text.

Other apps using scanning features take a full user experience. What to do with you scans, quality of the result and ability to turn even average scans into great quality results. The user experience is actually quite good, the app feels as if they stopped developing it, not even coming close to full potential. Why stopping at Evernote and Dropbox? Why not offering other backgrounds than white for the scan result? Why not transparent? Integration in office productivity?

About a decade after their launch, I feel as if Whitelines SA has so far missed its' chance to generalize their technology. I believe, that their opportunity would be much better focussing on the scan tech and digital services, rather than on the proprietary paper. It limits their potential growth as they need to have partnerships with paper notebook producers and brands. Both Whitelines and their partners need then to convince customers to use these specific products. The Whitelines proprietary paper is only offered in Whitelines clolour branding. Grey pages, black cover, orange contrast features. 

Apple might be able to dictate a certain design and turn it into a best selling feature. A small startup product needs a huge amount of appeal and must-have benefits to pull off such a strategy. If not, the lack of choice and customer preferences outweigh the potential benefits. Scaling and growth are hampered by self-inflicted limitations. I assume that Whitelines have had big ambitions and plans to improve their app capabilities and services which need financing. It looks to me as if Whitelines couldn't decide whether they are a paper tech company, a product brand or a tech start-up.

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