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  1. (Originally posted over here.) I was killing time in Kinokuniya last week, and came across a big pile of A5 notebooks priced at A$4.95 each. That's atypically low for paper products that Kinokuniya chooses to carry, to put it mildly; and these notebooks are not exactly thin, have covers of some material that is seems stiffer and more ‘premium’ than (kraft or other) paper or card, and weren't marked as clearance stock or otherwise discounted that I could see. Every book is sealed in a clear cellophane pocket with a resealable flap; and, being Kinokuniya, its staff were sure to additionally tape the flap down over the store's price sticker, which in turn sits on top of and obscures the human-readable information on the manufacturer's barcode sticker. On only some of the notebooks, which come in three different colourways, there are see-through stickers that describe the product features less-than-comprehensively thus: Notebook 8 page index numbered pages 100gsm acid free paper fountain pen fantastic soft touch cover Lined without disclosing the actual page count, how far apart the ruled lines are, or where the product (or paper) was made. The brand is MEMMO, which I have never heard of until then. Between the incredibly low price and the claim of being “fountain pen fantastic”, I just could not contain my curiosity; and so I took one unit to the counter in the stationery department and asked for more information. The lady there didn't know; and so she offered to open one up to show me, which necessitated cutting the pocket along a seam with a knife, given the additional measures to ensure customers cannot easily unseal the retail packaging themselves (in-store or at home). Each book has 150 numbered pages, and additionally 8 index pages titled Index 2017. (I have now looked inside all three colourways, and they are all stuck equally far in the past) Upon my drawing her attention to it, the lady remarked, “No wonder they're cheap.” The horizontal guidelines on regular pages are ruled 6mm apart; and there is space marked out, with virgules as field separators but no year number preprinted, in the outside-edge corner at the top for the date; so the format is perfectly usable with no distracting outdated markings. The paper itself does not look or feel coated, and the cover material is somewhat rubbery to the touch and stiffer than, say, a latex oven mitt. All nice enough features to raise its standing above the average notebook one'd find in the MUJI store downstairs or Officeworks across the road. The Internet domain name (which is not exactly a ‘web page’ or URL), memmo.com.au, printed on the top sheet alludes to the brand being Australian, but I cannot find any explicit statement of where the product was made or from where the paper was sourced. All the same, it all seems too good to be true, so I just had to risk $5 (but be also mentally prepared to return to the store and buy $100 ‘worth’ of the remaining stock). Well, it is too good to be true. The paper is not bad, but (very loosely speaking) there is visible bleed-through to the other side of the 100gsm sheet from eight or nine out of every ten inks I have tested, although not to the extent of being greatly distracting if there is handwritten text in front of the spots of ink bleed. There is also noticeable, albeit sparse, feathering with maybe half of the inks; and, by that, I mean ink travelling in awkward directions along fibres on the paper surface away from the ink marks, not woolly outlines. Lines of ink tend to spread more than on Rhodia, but may be on par with the recto side of Exacompta FAF 70g/m² paper. If I'm to keep a journal or subject-specific notebook, in which I would typically write with several, or even many, different pens and different inks, I probably won't enjoy writing in this type of notebook, or subsequently rereading what I'd written. In terms of paper quality, I'd say it's on par with the 100gsm paper used in Paperblanks Flexis softcover journals. The Flexis paper is more apt to exhibit bleed-through, but more resistant to feathering; and it's off-white in colour, whereas the paper in this 2017 notebook is a cool white in spite of the coloured edges on three sides. I've subsequently found that the aforementioned domain name, when used as a partial URL (absent the https:// protocol part), does not bring up a website of the same name; it redirects to the website of a different brand/company, although that company seems to sell some similar products (priced at A$19.95 each) of which the description does not match the details of this notebook exactly. The website claims it is “fountain pen friendly” (as opposed to “fountain pen fantastic”). I'm not going to order one at that price to see if it uses the same paper, or is in fact the same product; but for now I strongly suspect it is the case, and just that the details listed are inaccurate in more ways than one and cannot be trusted. So, being a sad, pathetic stationery junkie, what did I do mid-week? Return to Kinokuniya and buy another, of course, since the first book has been ‘ruined’ with my testing so far. I won't use it for journalling — and I already have many dozen new Paperblanks and (better than that) Peter Pauper Press journals here anyway — but there is probably one particular application for which this MEMMO FP paper is suitable, in spite (or specifically because) of its minor flaws: an inking log book. I'm not going to see which inks are more likely to produce feathering and bleed-through, if I keep using Apica notebooks or switch to Clairefontaine ‘Age Bag’ notebooks for my inking log book. On the other hand, keeping an inking log book on this flawed paper would not only tell me the colour of the ink, but also warn me which inks could spell trouble on inferior paper.

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