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Recently I've suckered myself into buying a bunch of different A7 sized notepads that attracted my attention simply by being made in Japan, France or Germany, and offered at 'reasonable' prices in retail stores here. Personally I find A7 to be an awkward and almost useless size, because I have trouble writing decently and with a light hand close to (say, within a margin of 8mm to 10mm from) the right-hand and bottom edges of any notepad, and of course the margin-to-useful-writing-area ratio on an A7 notepad is quite significant. However, it's probably not a bad way to test out certain papers. Anyway, I bought this one from Daiso, for the price at which most of Daiso's products are priced locally. At 11mm, the pad is slightly thicker than the Maruman m.memo DMP-A7 line grid notepad, but offers 20% more pages than the latter. The paper weight is not specified, but I expect it to be on par with if not lighter than the Maruman's, which uses 60g/m² paper. The paper is coated on both sides and not quite bright white, but looks very slightly greyish. The dots on the recto side of each sheet are small and subtle, and the verso side is blank like on the m.memo. Unlike the Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad and the Maruman m.memo, the sheets are bound by glue along the top edge. The advantage is that the entire page area is available for writing, instead of losing a whopping 13% of it to the staple and the 'stub' of the perforations; and the disadvantage is that the pages could come loose more easily before you're ready to tear them out, or if you're using the notepad as a reporter-style notebook and folding used sheets around the top edge but wanting them to stand attached. Personally, the binding of this notepad is an overall plus for me. On where the stub of the perforations would be at the top of each page, instead of dots there's an area set out for writing the title and the date of the content, and that could be convenient depending on one's note-taking habits. The paper is quite resistant to feathering thanks to the coating, whether writing on the recto or the verso side, but with such lightweight paper ghosting is inevitable. There are a couple of spots of bleed-through where I've allowed the nib to linger while I tried to get my Pilot Elabo inked with Diamine Iridescink Robert to flex. In that regard, the Maruman's paper performed better. The coating on this Daiso paper seems to be a bit more hardy than that on the Bloc Rhodia No.11, but less so than that on the Maruman m.memo. There was one sheet (not shown here in the photos) where I had a feathering problem with one line of writing in KWZI Azure #2 ink; and, sure enough, when I dunked that page in the sink, I can see that the coating over that line/spot has been 'compromised' by something which has the shape of a fingerprint. (Note: After my experience with the Bloc Rhodia, I now cover the rest of the page as best I could with a thick, clean paper napkin as I write on these A7 notepads, and so that fingerprint was probably not mine.) Most inks that are apt to exhibit sheen did so on the paper in this notepad. On the whole, given I'm unlikely to write on both sides of a page on an A7 notepad, I think this is a better buy (for my purposes!) than the Maruman m.memo in that the printed guide markings (as in the dot grid, line grid, etc.) are great and well thought out, the paper performs well enough, and effectively this notepad offers >35% more usuable writing surface per page/notepad than the Maruman m.memo DMP-A7, but I must concede that the Maruman's paper quality is superior.
The m.memo DMP-A7 notepad produce by Maruman has (almost) the same dimensions as the Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad and shares the same design, including the single staple binding in portrait orientation, the fold-back front cover, and perforated pages. Maruman m.memo DMP-A7 versus Bloc Rhodia No.11[/th][th]m.memo DMP-A7Bloc Rhodia No.11Country of manufactureJapanFrancePaper weight60 g/m280 g/m2 Number of sheets10080Page sizeactually A7 (7.4cm x 10.5cm)nominally A7 (7.4cm x 10.5cm); actually 7.3cm x 10.3cm Page ruling5mm dot grid on recto side only7mm ruled on both sides The lovely, subdued blue cover on the DMP-A7 is less glossy than the orange cover on the Rhodia, but it is nevertheless coated. I haven't tested whether one is more resistant to moisture, dirt and scratches than the other. The gridlines on the ever-so-slightly-off white pages in the DMP-A7 are a very faint grey, significantly lighter in colour than the blue-grey lines on the Rhodia paper. I see that as an advantage, especially when it comes to full 'graph paper' grids. Also, the verso (i.e. reverse) side of the paper is blank without any printed lines, which suits me just fine. The paper itself is very smooth and fountain pen friendly. I have not yet seen any of my inks feather or bleed-through on it, even when writing on the verso side, in spite of the paper being only 60 g/m2 paper and 25% lighter than the Rhodia paper. It is coated and smooth, and conducive to laying down crisp lines with an Extra Fine and/or Italic nib. The coating seems to be rather better than that in the Bloc Rhodia, and I have observed sheen readily on the m.memo paper from a number of different inks. Being so lightweight, some ghosting is inevitable, although all things considered the paper does a marvellous job of resisting ghosting, which mostly only shows when the sheet is laid down against a bright white background, under a light source strong enough to penetrate the Maruman paper and reflect off the backing sheet or surface beneath it. Other than the impractical size of the tiny notepad itself, I'm very happy with its performance, and I must say it's a superior product to the Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad. It is also significantly cheaper per notepad and per page at their respective regular prices (here, at least).
Recently, I picked up a number of different Japanese-made A7 and B7 sized notepads from Daiso. I have yet to get around to using them, but they reminded me that I also bought a Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad several months ago (at 50% off) for A$2. It's not that I can think of a good use for a notepad of that size, but in the case of the Rhodia, the purpose was primarily to trigger a special offer for a free hardcover A6 Rhodiarama notebook (with free shipping to boot, for a reason that was not a term of that offer). The Bloc Rhodia No.11 notepad is A7 in size (7.4cm x 10.5cm), and has 80 sheets of 7mm-ruled 80g/m2 white vellum paper that is made in France. The pages are bound by a single staple near the top edge in portrait orientation, and each page is finely perforated across the top about 1.35cm below the top edge of the paper for easy detachment. As with other Bloc Rhodia notepads, that means the available writing area is rather less than the nominal size of the notepad; in this case, approximately 13% of each page is lost to the binding above the perforations. The paper is quite typical of this line of Rhodia products in terms of smoothness and whiteness, and generally speaking it is quite resistant to feathering, ghosting and bleed-through when used with fountain pen inks. I can see shading even when writing on it with very fine nibbed pens. There's a bit of 'woolly' outline when writing on it with Sailor kiwaguro pigment ink using a Stub nib, but the effect is quite inconsistent from one page to the next. (See images (2a) and (2b).) I attribute that to the obviously uneven application of coating to the paper, even on the recto side. Even though I didn't feel more feedback or friction resulting from that, at some random spots on the page the coating is so lacking and/or defective that half a word may cause terrible feathering and bleed-through see images (3a) and (3b) even though the other half of the word doesn't. On the verso side the inconsistency in the coating is more evident; using the same pen and ink on the same spot, to write exactly the same thing with the same handwriting technique, on consecutive pages can give noticeably different line widths and/or levels of ink spread and feathering. (Compare images (4a) and (4b); (5a) and (5b); and (6a) and (6b).) On where the coating is not defective, ink can take relatively long to dry. The marks seen in image (7a) are not the results of bleed-through from the writing on the verso side of sheet #3, but just smearing from touching the verso side of sheet #2. Frankly, this isn't a product I can find any reason to recommend, even though I'm usually a Rhodia fan. It's expensive, the size is impractical unless you have a really small pocket that can nevertheless handle a 1cm-thick notepad, the unavailability of 13% of the already small paper surface for writing is annoying, and the paper quality is poor on account of the inconsistent coating, not that I expect anyone to put such a notepad to use with calligraphic or artistic endeavours.
Okay, I'm no good with paper reviews, so I'll just skip over that in this case since Kokuyo Campus paper is an old classic practically on par with Rhodia (at least for those of us who love our Japanese/Asian paper!) so it's bound to have been reviewed already. That's my story, etc. But I just HAD to share this totally adorable version that I recently found on Rakuten, because it is a total darling. Just look at that! That's a clip from a Lamy Safari for size: The best part for me, as a big fan of all things miniaturized, is that this is an exact replica of the larger Kokuyo Campus notebooks - all the way through, not just the cover! The paper stock is the same smooth but not slippery perfection, same line spacing, same setup with the two dots for the date top right and the two bold lines top and bottom with dots as guides for vertical lines, basically everything you get in the larger Kokuyo Campus notebooks is here: OMG, cute cubed! What should I use it for. do you think? Do you like miniatures too?