Jump to content

Notebook suggestions?



Recommended Posts

doclocs13

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for journal/notebook suggestions. I am looking to start journaling but I find myself frustrated when trying to write in journals/notebooks with bindings that make the pages arch up when opened. And unfortunately, many of the wire bound notebooks I've seen look like I am back in high school taking notes (I can't do that again). Are there journals/notebooks that you'd suggest that either don't have or minimizes this issue? I have been searching Goulet pens, Pen Boutique, Bertrams Inkwell, and its just a bit overwhelming. In my day to day writing I use Rhodia; I gave away my Rhodia notebook because of the issue above.

Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 21
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • doclocs13

    6

  • LizEF

    3

  • ParramattaPaul

    3

  • arcfide

    2

I use a Rhodia Webnotebook (Rhodiarama appear to be the same thing, just in color) and find the arching is not bad at all - the notebook flattens with my hand on the page - I usually use a blotter sheet as bookmark and under my hand, just in case.  It's going to be a little worse toward the start and end of the book - as expected, but even there, I've been able to write within a few millimeters of the margin with no problems.  Note that it may help to bend the covers open all the way until they're touching each other, and then repeat in various parts of the book.

 

Given my impression of the Rhodia is so different from yours, I'm thinking, spiral bound - perhaps top bound - or maybe soft-cover books are the thing to look for.  Particularly thin books, like Midori MD (or thinner) might be another option.

 

Just tested my non-spiral bound notebooks...

  • Bond Travel Gear is about the same as, maybe a little better than Rhodia Webnotebook / Rhodiarama
  • Leuchtturm1917 hardbound seems about the same as Rhodia
  • GLP Creations' The Author (soft cover) is much worse (but I imagine some "working" would flatten it out - it's brand new, not yet used).
  • Paperblanks journals are much worse (also not yet used)
  • Midori MD lays completely flat once the pages you open to are pressed down (sort of like un-creasing paper - press down the binding to flatten it, and it stays completely flat).  This plus a nice reusable journal cover seems like your best bet.

Edit: Here's a link to JetPens' Midori MD page, for reference...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hrm. Okay, I've found this to be an issue as well, personally. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Thinner paper tends to lay over easier
  • Thinner notebooks tend to be easier to manage
  • Notebooks with soft covers have bent over easier for me and are easier to guide into laying flat than those with hard covers
  • More quires and a stitched or properly glued binding usually means that they are easier to get to lay flat

So, from my experience, one of the best in this respect are any of the classic University form, 30 - 34 sheet count soft cover Japanese style notebooks from the makers like Tsubame, Apica, Life, Itoya, Kokuyo, Kobeha, or Kanabashi. These all have stitched, single quire books, but because they are so thin, they are designed to be bent around and moved all over the place, making it much easier for you to bend them so they lay flat, and their thinness makes them much easier to work with when writing. Among those makers, you can't really go wrong except for not getting a good paper matched to your ink and pen and writing preferences. Apica tends to be grey-white with hard, smooth paper. Tsubame is a little softer paper with more feedback and maybe a little yellower paper (still white), Kobeha is exceptionally premium, high feedback Tomoe River class paper. Kokuyo's Campus line uses a flexible, sturdy glue binding, so they are highly flexible. Itoya has a little more ivory with interesting rulings (Profolio Oasis) and a softer paper, while Life's paper is cream/ivory and hits somewhere between Tsubame and Apica in paper feel. For such notebooks, you want to avoid the staplebound ones if you care about lay flatness. 

 

However, if you want a higher page count, then you're going to have to start getting a little more picky. For easiest "lay flatness" I would *avoid* Life Noble notes and Tsubame's W100S line and such, as they are bound with large quires. Though they are excellent notebooks with great paper, and their laid watermark sets them apart, they won't lay flat as easily as others. However, Apica's Premium C.D. notebooks have a *lot* of quires in them, and use a silky, relatively thicker notebook paper. It's probably the easiest layflat notebook I've seen with that degree of paper thickness. Midori's MD notebooks also have a high quire count, thinner paper (with more ghosting) than the A.Silky 865 paper from Apica, but with a higher feedback (so more of that nice scritch on the paper that you might enjoy) and a distinctly ivory paper tone. These have a harder cover than the Apica's, but they lay flat very well due to their thinner paper and design. The Apica paper is softer and more absorbent, meaning you'll see less sheen, but it's a great writing experience if you like that silky feel. MD paper is harder, with distinct feedback, but much less absorbent, so you'll get more sheen on that paper. These are both premium type books though, so they are a little pricier. 

 

However, Kokuyo makes an 80-sheet Campus High Grade MIO notebook that is extremely affordable, but has terrifically good paper in it. The MIO paper is a high-quality diary style paper designed as a portable writing paper. It's relatively quick-drying (designed around wet gel pens) so you won't get a lot of sheen, but it's a nice grey-ish white color that isn't too glaring, and the glue binding that they use is remarkable for how sturdy yet flexible it is. Because of the sheer flexibility of the book, you can twist and bend that thing any which way you want, and it not only stays flat very well, but when you close it back up, it tends to stay closed. It's the best book I've seen for this behavior. Just keep in mind that its design means that it's easier to tear the surface of the paper with your nib and get bleedthrough from overwriting, and you won't get the high levels of sheen and shade that you would from Tomoe River style paper. 

 

There are a number of makers producing various Tomoe River notebooks, and I have every confidence that many of them are very lay flat as well. The paper is set up right for it. However, the same would apply as above in terms of looking for small, stitched quires and soft covers. Additionally, some people find working with the high dry times of Tomoe River in a notebook form for daily use somewhat trying (blotter paper helps, but then might ruin the ink properties you are aiming for on the page). Additionally, while Kokuyo's THIN and MIO paper are both designed to have resistance to ghosting and a fair level of stiffness in the page for their thinness, the TR paper is exceptionally flexible and soft for the same weight, meaning that it crinkles much easier, and ghosts a lot more. 

 

The way it would break down for me would be like this:

  • If I had to have the absolute best in ink properties for my page, I'd use a Kobeha Graphillo (A5 or A4) thin notebook or a Tomoe River stitched notebook like those available from JetPens, Goulet, Elia or others. 
  • If I cared about how my ink looks but needed something more on the typical spectrum, and I didn't care about ivory paper, or preferred it, and liked a high feedback paper, then Midori MD would be my selection hands down (their MD Notebook, not the Light notebooks, which are staplebound)
  • If I cared more about ghosting and wanted softer, thicker white paper instead of thinner, harder paper, I'd go for Apica's Premium C.D. books
  • If I couldn't stomach the prices of the above, or wanted something with even more flexibility/flatness, I'd look at a Kokuyo Campus High Grade MIO
  • If I didn't mind fewer pages, and wanted to optimize for sheer ergonomic writing comfort, I'd pick any of the thin university style notebooks from Apica, LIFE, Tsubame (kind of the OG), Kokuyo Campus, Itoya, or thin, smaller equivalents from other makers whose paper I liked the most.
  • If you prefer European paper, then there are various composition books that might suit you for this same basic concept, but often the European books use thicker paper with larger quires for compositions books that don't lay as flat. You'll just have to figure out what you like. Rhodia makes a composition style notebook I think, and it's stitched, but it's 80 pages and you'll likely have to bend the book a lot to get it to lay flat. Baron Fig is another name in the game. The Moleskin look-alikes could work, but you'll have to be prepared to do a lot of bending of the book each time you want a flat page. 
Link to post
Share on other sites
inkandseeds

I use Blok journals from Blok Books in Mesa, AZ.  They have a website. They lay flat.  No bleed through.  Paper seems fountain pen friendly, not aware of any feathering with the inks I use (mostly Noodlers permanent inks).   Paper is thicker, binding is stitched.  A little pricey at $25 for 126 pages.  Have been using since 2015.

Link to post
Share on other sites
ParramattaPaul
2 hours ago, doclocs13 said:

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for journal/notebook suggestions. I am looking to start journaling but I find myself frustrated when trying to write in journals/notebooks with bindings that make the pages arch up when opened. And unfortunately, many of the wire bound notebooks I've seen look like I am back in high school taking notes (I can't do that again). Are there journals/notebooks that you'd suggest that either don't have or minimizes this issue? I have been searching Goulet pens, Pen Boutique, Bertrams Inkwell, and its just a bit overwhelming. In my day to day writing I use Rhodia; I gave away my Rhodia notebook because of the issue above.

Thanks

 

Problem solved at this website: A5 Classic Notebook – William Hannah Limited

Link to post
Share on other sites
doclocs13

Thanks for such thorough replies!! You've given me more information than I expected to receive. Much appreciated. There is so much to learn in this hobby. I think I am going to try Apica's Premium C.D. notebook. I will keep my eye out for Rhodia web notebook and Bond Travel Gear.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think form factor is important, and of course personal.  My preferences are evolving based on my experience with notebooks, so I would suggest not limiting yourself.

 

I like A5-sized notebooks.  This is something that has NOT changed over time.  Note that while A5 is pretty close to the size of a U.S. letter page folded in half (which is the size Moleskine uses), an A5 sheet is about 1/2" wider and I definitely prefer that additional width.  But this isn't generally a concern: most of the market uses A5, the notable exception being Moleskine, and Moleskine's horribly inconsistent paper means you'll avoid them anyhow.

 

I like notebooks with a 200+ pages, preferably closer to 400 if it's thin paper like Tomoe River, but at some point thickness becomes a problem.  I find that I am more commonly purchasing notebooks with blank sheets, placing homemade guidesheets with 7mm ruling behind the paper.  That makes turning the page a bit of a chore because I have to move and re-align the guidesheets.  My preference would be a 7mm dot grid, but nobody does that.  Second choice would be 7mm lines, but that's still very limiting, although the Nanami Writer is a great notebook if you want 52gsm Tomoe River with cream paper and 7mm lines.

 

I prefer Tomoe River 68gsm paper, white.  But Tomoe River 52gsm, Midori MD paper, and A.Silky paper are all very nice, too.  They all have their own tradeoffs.

 

The Bond Travel Gear notebook was the best lay-flat binding I've used.  Not just because it lays flat, but because of how easily the pages lay flat.  Other lay-flat notebooks I have used at some point require some small bit of pressure to get them to lay flat.  I think most people aren't bothered by it: just run a finger down the center when you turn a page, but it bugs me.

 

Unfortunately their notebook has been out of production for a long time, and the company shut down, too.  The people from Bond Travel Gear have since created a new company, Lochby.  But Lochby does not make that notebook.  Their focus seems to be on systems using the lower page count (eg 72 page-ish), with cases.  I've read good things about them, but personally I prefer notebooks with higher page counts, and the extra bulk of that case is not something I want, regardless of how well made it is.  As for that form factor: there are a lot of companies making covers that will hold 3-4 of those 72-page inserts, and I can see which people would like that kind of thing.

 

I'm currently using my first C.D. Notebook, using Apica's A.Silky paper, and I'll second arcfide's recommendation above.  It's nice paper, lays flat.  But I prefer Tomoe River paper.

 

The Midori MD notebooks lay flat quite easily, that paper is nice, but toothier.  And the Midori notebooks are inexpensive.

 

If you want Tomoe River paper, I recommend nanamipaper.com if you want 52gsm.  And Taroko's "Enigma" if you want 68gsm.  The Enigma used to only be available in 5mm dotgrid, but a few months ago they started selling blank sheets.  Nanami and Taroko seem to have on-again off-again stock.  

 

I have no idea where you live, but if you're in the U.S. and near a Kinokuniya then I recommend checking one out.  Nothing beats flipping through the notebook in person before you buy, and they have a large selection of Japanese paper, and some non-Japanese as well.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot recommend Baron Fig strongly enough.  They actually do lay flat; have FP-friendly paper; have cloth covers that i find very durable; and come in multiple sizes and colors, and multiple page designs.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
ParramattaPaul
On 1/15/2021 at 5:23 PM, ParramattaPaul said:

 

Problem solved at this website: A5 Classic Notebook – William Hannah Limited

I neglected to mention that the William Hannah notebooks allow easy removal of pagers for writing (my preferred method as a left handed writer).  They can then be easily put back in the notebook.

Link to post
Share on other sites
BaronWulfraed

Something between the "school" wire-bound and sewn-in notebooks might be one of the disk systems:

 

Levenger Circa

Office Max/Depot Tul

Staples Arc

more https://allaboutplanners.com.au/guide-to-discbound-planners-frequently-asked-questions/

 

Buy a punch and you can use your favorite paper stock.

 

Levenger USED TO have a 2-disk skinny pocket notebook (2x4.5"), 3-disk reporter notebook (3x5" common notecards), 6-disk side-opening book (4x6")... But now seems to just have US-letter and US-Junior (half-letter) sizes.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
ParramattaPaul
1 hour ago, BaronWulfraed said:

Something between the "school" wire-bound and sewn-in notebooks might be one of the disk systems:

 

Levenger Circa

Office Max/Depot Tul

Staples Arc

more https://allaboutplanners.com.au/guide-to-discbound-planners-frequently-asked-questions/

 

Buy a punch and you can use your favorite paper stock.

 

Levenger USED TO have a 2-disk skinny pocket notebook (2x4.5"), 3-disk reporter notebook (3x5" common notecards), 6-disk side-opening book (4x6")... But now seems to just have US-letter and US-Junior (half-letter) sizes.

 

 

I have to wonder why Levenger doesn't carry more metric size options.

Link to post
Share on other sites
doclocs13

Thanks again for all the suggestions and information. Now I am sure I will find something that works for me. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
doclocs13

So my Apica's Premium C.D. notebook was delivered today. I am very happy with it. The look and feel of the notebook expresses quality. LizEF's description was perfect. It has a nice silky thick paper. Kind of perfect actually. I used my ASC Gladiatore Medio Arco Bronze (F) with Waterman Intense Black. This pen is pretty wet for a fine nib. I would guess that the dry times were >25 seconds but that is not a problem since I am using it for journaling, not notes. Best of all, it lays flat! Such a joy to write when you're not wrestling with the pages. I will find opportunities to test out many of the other suggestions provided.

Thanks Everyone, 

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, doclocs13 said:

Oops I did! Thanks @arcfide!! 
Though @LizEF, I will likely also be trying Midori MD also. 

 

:) I think you'll find both the Apica Premium and the Midori MD notebooks at the top of their classes. They are excellent notebooks, but both are a bit "frustrating" to me personally, despite, or maybe because of, how good they are. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, doclocs13 said:

Though @LizEF, I will likely also be trying Midori MD also. 

I'll be interested to read your reaction and comparison.  Paper is as personal a thing in this hobby as pens and inks. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with all of the other recommendations for Midori MD. I filled my previous journal in about 3 months.

 

Currently using a TR Blank from Galen Leather, but once I fill it, definitely going back and staying faithful to the A5 Midori MD Journal. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Announcements


×
×
  • Create New...