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Hello everyone. I am in need of $ at the moment to pay rent and I am in the position to get rid of two larger and one smaller (B5 and A5) journals that I purchased from paperforfountainpens.com back when he sold them a few years ago, a Nanami journal or 2, all brand new, some used ink and a couple used Pilot Metropolitans. Anyway, I think there used to be a classified sub-forum here, but I cant find it anymore. If anyone can point me in the right direction where I might be able to sell these (other than the obvious, like eBay), please let me know. It would be a huge help and I would greatly, greatly appreciate it. Thank you bunches. 😃
This is a brief comparison of 6 different notebooks: from left to right: Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook (Dk Blue cover) Seven Seas Notebook (Brown cover) Midori MD Notebook (Cream cover) Black n' Red Notebook (Black cover) Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook (Blue cover) Spicebox Personal Notebook (Red cover) All are around the A5 size (approximately 140 x 210 mm – or roughly 4.5” x 8”). I have compared them for size, paper type and color, cover composition, number of sheets, construction, price in USD at US websites, price per page and additional items that are part of each notebook. I have included a short spreadsheet to show these characteristics more easily. I then compared and commented on my impressions of writing, including writing sample, ink absorbancy, and ability to bring out the best in my writing. These impressions are my opinions; your experience may differ. Following the notebook discussions, I will provide my personal evaluation and rating (1-lowest to 10-highest). Finally, I will end with a brief discussion of my perfect notebook. First, let’s look at the characteristics of the notebooks. I have also included information regarding the Rhodia Webnotebook, which I have not used, and the Leuchterm1917 Notebook which I used to use several years ago. All of the other notebooks listed I have used as my personal journal or work notebook within the last year. Note: Number of sheets was determined by either counting the actual individual sheets or from manufacturer's website. Also the "price per page" shown above is actually the price per sheet. Size: You will note from the first photo above that the Spicebox Personal Notebook (which I also call Letterbox Notebook), and the Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook are sized signficantly differently than the generally accepted size for A5. The Spicebox/Letterbox Notebook is larger, whereas the Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook is notably smaller. I did not include the thickness measurement as each of the notebooks are about the same thickness except for Seven Seas which is thicker and Paper for Fountain Pens which is thinner. Overall, Paper for Fountain Pens is a smaller notebook than the others. Paper type: Each notebook has its own paper type, except for the Seven Seas Notebook and Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook which is Tomoe River 52 gsm, and Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook and Rhodia Webnotebook which have Clairfontaine 90 gsm vellum. Paper Color: I have sampled a variety of paper colors. To the best of my knowledge, most of the Notebooks are available in either cream/ivory or white, except the Midori MD and Spicebox which are available only in cream/ivory and Black n’ Red which is available only in white. Cover: The covers of each notebook vary, but most are hardcover. The Midori MD cover is a heavyweight paper, and comes with a wax-paper like sleeve. The Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook comes with a cardboard cover, and the Seven Seas comes with a Buckram cover similar to heavyweight paper. The rest are hardcover. Number of Sheets per Notebook: This varies with the notebook from 96 sheets in the Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook all the way to 240 sheets in the Seven Seas Notebook. Note that I am showing the actual number of sheets, not pages that can be written on. Type of Line: Most of the notebooks are available in a variety of line types, from blank, dot, line and grid. The size between lines, dots, and grid vary from 0.5mm (Midori MD, Leuchterm) to 0.7mm (Clairfontaine, Black n’ Red) depending on the notebook. Page Numbers: Most of the notebooks did not have pre-printed page numbers. Construction: All of the notebooks are thread-bound, excepting Black n’ Red, and advertise that they “lay-flat”. My experience with each notebook is that some lay flat much easier than others. Price: The notebooks vary in price from $10.99 (Black n’ Red) to $29.00 for the Paper for Fountain Pens notebook. But when you compare the price per sheet, the cost becomes much clearer. Additional: Each of the notebooks have “additional items” which may or may not add value to the user, from ribbons, to an index, to elastic closures and pockets. The value of these were not taken into account in my final assessment. Notebook Evaluation: 1. Midori MD Notebook: I have a great deal of experience using these notebooks and have used them for my personal journal throughout all of 2018. These are great notebooks and are well made. They come with a heavyweight paper cover with the binding well taped. In addition, the notebook includes a type of wax-paper sleeve which protects the notebook. A Midori leather cover is available which fit the notebook like a glove. The notebook also includes one ribbon. The paper is a standard Midori MD paper that is probably a 90-100 gsm cream-colored paper that works very well for fountain pens. When writing, the paper is smooth, but with a very slight toothiness making the writing experience very enjoyable. I only notice the toothiness when writing with EF or F nibs. This is a less absorbent paper, with slightly longer ink dry times, but the beauty of ink also shines through especially with wider nibs. Also, only under rare circumstances do I notice bleedthrough (when ink pools), and little to no showthrough. The notebook comes in blank, line, or grid configurations. My preference is for the grid configuration which is more of an open grid. 2. Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook: I have used Clairfontaine paper off and on for many years for the occasional letter, but this was my first experience using it everyday. For the month of April, 2019, I purchased a blue Clairfontaine Essentials notebook for my personal journal. It included an index and numbered pages as well as a ribbon and elastic closure. I was hoping to get it in either dot or grid configurations in a white paper, but I was limited to the lined configuration in the ivory color which I did not like at all. I like to “doodle” and the lines were too confining to me. And I personally prefer white paper over ivory/cream colors because I like to see the true color of my ink. Clairfontaine paper is known to be very smooth and fountain pen friendly. I was very disappointed in the performance of the Essentials notebook. As I wrote on the paper, it was like I was “slogging through mud”, or dragging the pen across the page. Also, the paper has some kind of coating which seems to retard ink absorbancy. While dry time is a bit longer, the ink looks wonderful. But I found that this coating was inconsistent across the page and appeared to accumulate on the nib of my stub and wider nibbed pens. Also, when I used my EF or F nibs, I didn’t notice the drag as much. But with wider nibbed pens, the nibs would hesitate and skip like they had baby’s bottom (which they don’t). Also, I was very surprised to find that there was a fair amount of bleedthrough and showthrough anytime I used a wider nibbed pen and ink pooled or was concentrated. This did not seem to depend upon the ink either. Overall, this wasn’t a pleasant month for writing in this journal, and at the end of the month, I retired the journal not fully used. 3. Spicebox Personal Notebook (aka Letterbox): A few years ago, I found these notebooks at Costco for a ridiculously low price and bought several. I was pleasantly surprised that they were, for the most part, fountain pen friendly. I rushed right out and proceeded to buy at dozen bundles of 3, and have been using them exclusively for my consulting work since then. Because they are so inexpensive, I keep a separate notebook for each client; and because they come in some many different colors, I use a particular color for my main clients. The notebooks are well made, come with a ribbon and pocket in the back, and for the most part are sturdy (although the notebook pictured took a spill in the field last week which crumpled the corner a bit). Although the paper is cream colored, it is smooth, with just a touch of tooth, and relatively absorbent, which means faster dry times. But, unless I am using a really wide, wet nib, I rarely see any bleedthrough or showthrough. Overall, a good value. 4. Seven Seas Standard: I have heard about these notebooks for some time, and finally decided to try them. I really wanted their “Crossfields” variety with the crosses instead of dots, but they were not available. I opted for the blank “Standard” instead. The notebook is the A5 size but is thicker because of the large number of sheets in the notebook. It is what I would call a “no-nonsense” notebook with a simple cover and no page numbers, ribbon, closure or pockets, but is very well made with thread bound construction. Even though it is thick, once it has been worked a bit, it lays flat nicely – flatter than most of the others. The paper is my favorite – 52 gsm Tomoe River. While there is some show through, I haven’t seen any bleedthrough no matter what nib I use. The paper is amazing smooth, but with no coating, so the nib glides across the page. While nothing beats writing with a wide nibbed pen on Tomoe River paper, I love using my EF and F nibs because there is little to no feedback – which I much prefer. The website where I purchased the notebooks lists the paper color as white, but when compared to copy paper, it is more of a light ivory color. I purchased two of these notebooks, and I am expecting that with the large volume of paper in each notebook, that they will last for a long time. This is a sample of my bullet journal portion of my Seven Seas notebook. 5. Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook: I purchased several of these notebooks over a year ago and immediately fell in love with them. Why? This was my first exposure to Tomoe River paper. And I love that they were a blue hardcover, thread bound and very well made. I wasn’t wild about the blank, cream colored paper – which is all that they were available at the time – but I used them exclusively for my personal journal for some time. But as I continued using them, the narrow page size began to bother me. I tried turning the pages and writing horizontally to the spine, but that just didn’t work either. I also found that they did not lay as flat as I would have liked. And, unfortunately, when I went to re-order, they were not available - which I have heard is a common problem. But the writing experience on the Tomoe River paper is unequalled. For me personally, I think of Tomoe River paper like a picture frame. It shows of the beauty of the lettering and elegance of the ink to full potential. 6. Black n’ Red Notebook: I originally was not going to include this notebook as it is different from the others in terms of construction. But there are many redeeming qualities about this notebook that I thought I might discuss. It is a hardcover, glue bound notebook that is relatively well made. It is available on Amazon and, in the US, at Staples and Office Depot stationery stores, and is generally less expensive. Although avoid the ones with the big advertising stickers on the front – the stickers do not peel off well, as evidenced by the notebook that I have. The paper, however, is quite nice. It is a 90 gsm Optik paper which is very smooth like Clairfontaine. In fact, in a blind test, I would imagine that few would notice the difference. But, like Clairfontaine, wider nibbed pens seem to drag – far too much for my preference. But, for me these do make an acceptable alternative for work. As I mentioned above, I will give you my completely biased rating, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest: 1. Midori MD Notebook: 8, because of the paper quality and reasonable cost. 2. Clairfontaine Essentials Notebook: 4, because of its poor overall value and the quality of the paper. 3. Spicebox Personal Notebook: 7+, because of the good value and very nice paper. 4. Seven Seas Notebook: 9, because of Tomoe River paper, the high sheet content and great value. 5. Paper for Fountain Pens: 6+, because of Tomoe River which balances the high price and size. 6. Black n’ Red Notebook: 6, because of the low cost and nice paper. So, for me, my overall preference for my personal journal is for the Seven Seas Standard notebook, with the Midori MD notebook coming in a strong second. My preference for work notebooks are the Spicebox Personal Notebook. Although the Seven Seas Standard is close to my perfect A5 notebook, I would much prefer a whiter color with a light open grid format. It would be nice to have a ribbon, but not essential. But I must say, it is pretty darn close, so I am very satisfied.