Lifelong search very nearly solved. I spend a lot of time in stationery stores everywhere I go, all over the world, looking for the perfect notebook. I don't know what I'm looking for, since my purchases tend to be all over the map. But I'll know it when I find it. I have piles of notebooks in all shapes, bindings, covers and sizes on my bookshelf -- all unused. When I was in Paris last October I bought about ten Clairefontaine and Calligraphe softcover graph-paper and bookkeeping-type-rule notebooks, convinced they'd be The Ones. But no go. I know that I like Moleskine softcover day-per-page calendars, but I don't like Moleskine notebooks because they don't stay open on their own. I hate reporter pads and steno books, the vertical page flip just isn't on. For daily notes, I use a tiny Five-Star spirals I buy at the drugstore near where I live.
Anyway, I really like this notebook that I disassembled from a corporate gift I received today. It's larger, but not quite 8.5 x 11. It's got a matte-ish board black hardcover and it's got two blank heavier stock pages before the ruled pages begin. The ruled pages have a title box at the top and are not-quite college and not-quite wide-ruled. And the lines don't touch the edges of the paper. Also I love the paper stock. Not too thick (too pretentious, I think, for a notebook) and not so thin that ink will leak through. It feels like a thicker, finer newsprint stock.
I am such a nerd.