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Need to learn more about good notebooks


PinyPenner
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I tried a leuchtturm and moleskine notebook.

 

They are not lay-flat... If you are in the first 30 and last 30% of the pages, the short stack of pages is elevated above the table. So for instance if I am on page 1, open the notebook, page 1 is like a (bleep) trampoline, bouncing up and down.

How people put up with this I do not know.

 

I was under the impression that moleskine or leuchtturm were the best, but the more I think about it the more I question this and wonder if it's only branding. perhaps people here would be like to help me understand where I can learn more and give me suggestions for notebooks that are similar in quality, (being slightly water repellent is nice) but don't bounce up and down like a (bleep) trampoline.

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5 hours ago, PinyPenner said:

(being slightly water repellent is nice)

 

What do you mean by that, though? Are you after notebooks with covers that are water-repellant, such that spilt drink on the cover will simply bead up and not soak through the material? Or do you want the paper to be water-repellant? Or do you want the ink marks (i.e. writing) on the page to stay legible and not wash off completely, never mind that the paper may turn to mush with prolonged exposure to moisture?

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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1 hour ago, A Smug Dill said:

 

What do you mean by that, though?

I just mean that the moleskine is slightly repellent itself just on its cover and the tight binding on its pages doesn't at least let water just run completely wild once it touches a single edge.

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2 hours ago, PinyPenner said:

I just mean that the moleskine is slightly repellent itself just on its cover and the tight binding on its pages doesn't at least let water just run completely wild once it touches a single edge.

Are you writing in the shower?

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This is not the focus; you don't even need to acknowledge the idea that I asked for any 'waterproofing'. I listed a bunch of requisites, but if I asked for 1. dry paper 2. green paper 3. paper that can withstand being shot by a pistol you can simply suggest a notebook that fulfills 2/3 of the criteria, which is perfectly fine to me. The water resistivity is a nice feature that the moleskine's covers havebecause every notebook should be able to resist a bit of wet weather.

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18 hours ago, PinyPenner said:

I just mean that the moleskine is slightly repellent itself just on its cover and the tight binding on its pages doesn't at least let water just run completely wild once it touches a single edge.

 

The Peter Pauper Press journals with gilded page edges would provide that sort of superficial water repellence when the book are closed. PPP's journal paper quality and “fountain pen friendliness” is generally good.

 

On 10/23/2021 at 11:51 AM, PinyPenner said:

They are not lay-flat... If you are in the first 30 and last 30% of the pages, the short stack of pages is elevated above the table. So for instance if I am on page 1, open the notebook, page 1 is like a (bleep) trampoline, bouncing up and down.

 

Lay-flat binding simply means it's flexible enough to be bent back at 180° between any two pages without undue resistance when pressed. If there is a substantial difference in height between the stacks of sheets on either side of the spine when the book is open, then one cannot reasonably expect the shorter stack to rest perfectly horizontally on a supportive surface (or structure) below the cover, or that gravity will keep the angle between the pages on either side of the spine at greater than 180°, unless the adjacent pages are not physically touching at the spine but are only loosely held together with binding spirals, rings or discs.

 

If you expect any two adjacent pages will simultaneously rest (almost perfectly) horizontally, then you best stick with books with few pages. The Japanese typically make ‘school’ B5-sized and A4-sized notebooks with only 30 sheets. 

 

p.s. These Muji 60-page notebooks are pretty good:

but I haven't put them to the test either under the shower or using outside in a light sprinkle, so I can't tell you how water-repellent the covers and page edges are.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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55 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

unless the adjacent pages are not physically touching at the spine but are only loosely held together with binding spirals, rings or discs.

 

If you expect any two adjacent pages will simultaneously rest (almost perfectly) horizontally, then you best stick with books with few pages. The Japanese typically make ‘school’ B5-sized and A4-sized notebooks with only 30 sheets. 

This.  At least, my brain is incapable if figuring out how else you could accomplish this end.  Lots of brands claim it, but they always demonstrate on the center of the book. :glare:

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On 10/22/2021 at 6:51 PM, PinyPenner said:

How people put up with this I do not know.

Pretty sure we either hold the page down with our off hand, and/or spend some time bending the cover and pages back in a way that helps the book to stay open a little more.

 

I know there are some binding styles that do better than others at staying open to any page, but finding one with FP-friendly paper will likely be a challenge (if not impossible), and you still have to deal with the physics of unequal stacks of paper bound to each other at one edge (unless they're not bound, but held by rings, as mentioned previously).

 

On 10/22/2021 at 6:51 PM, PinyPenner said:

(being slightly water repellent is nice)

If it doesn't need to be FP friendly, Rite in the Rain brand books even have waterproof paper.  Otherwise, I suspect any of the fake-leather covers would handle a few drops, as long as you dried it off as soon as possible.  A cover or zippered case might also take care of this need.

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5 minutes ago, LizEF said:

Pretty sure we either hold the page down with our off hand, and/or spend some time bending the cover and pages back in a way that helps the book to stay open a little more.

 

I put something under the cover on the side of the shorter stack to equalise the height if need be.

 

5 minutes ago, LizEF said:

If it doesn't need to be FP friendly, Rite in the Rain brand books even have waterproof paper. 

 

Stone paper is marketed as waterproof or at least water-resistant; and there are different brands of notebooks in the market that use stone paper. I don't think whether that qualifies as,

On 10/23/2021 at 11:51 AM, PinyPenner said:

… notebooks that are similar in quality,

though. Writing on stone paper with a fountain pen is a sucky experience.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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17 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

I don't think whether that qualifies as,

On 10/22/2021 at 6:51 PM, PinyPenner said:

… notebooks that are similar in quality,

though. Writing on stone paper with a fountain pen is a sucky experience.

Good point.  I tested stone paper with Pilot Varsities - turns out you can use it as a wet-erase board. :D

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On 10/23/2021 at 8:51 AM, PinyPenner said:

How people put up with this I do not know

 

Quality sketchbooks, such as Stillman & Birn, do lay flat once the spine is cracked, it's something to do with the way they are stitched as well as the hard cover being very supportive.  I get around it with journals by putting another notebook or pad under the thin side when I'm writing.

 

open_book_sm.jpg.d825ad937809759dd668790d0346961e.jpg

It's all about the greys...

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On 10/24/2021 at 11:24 AM, PinyPenner said:

This is not the focus; you don't even need to acknowledge the idea that I asked for any 'waterproofing'. I listed a bunch of requisites, but if I asked for 1. dry paper 2. green paper 3. paper that can withstand being shot by a pistol you can simply suggest a notebook that fulfills 2/3 of the criteria, which is perfectly fine to me. The water resistivity is a nice feature that the moleskine's covers havebecause every notebook should be able to resist a bit of wet weather.

Please note there is some humour included in some posts.

 

If you need the cover to be a little weather resistant then it might be a better idea to go for a thinner cover and obtain a reusable leather or vinyl style cover.

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In addition to the already good suggestions above, assuming that you are not working with extremely heavy applications of ink or very misbehaved inks, the Kokuyo Campus MIO High Grade notebook in A5 has a few features that might be right for you. It has a polymer-coated soft card stock cover, so it will hold up to the odd drip on it. The paper is soft and thin, so it does not have the bulk of some of the other papers. It uses a different binding which is also not bulky. The spine is flexible right out of the gate. This means that you get a fairly high number of pages for little width, so your main issue with the early and late pages in the book not touching the ground will not be as pronounced. The main issue that some people don't like about these books are that they are very flexible, so they don't have a hard backed surface to write on, and the way the binding works means that some of the pages will not be perfectly straightly bound, which bothers some people.

 

Another options is the Kokuyo Soft ring notebooks, which are lay flat by design, but with soft rings so that the rings do not impede your writing hand. 

 

Many vendors offer notebooks with Tomoe River that have a fairly good page count with good bindings of various sorts that are quite lay flat and will not be too thick. Many people consider these the absolute best paper for fountain pens (though there is ample room for debate on this point). Other thin writing papers include Cosmo Air Light, Kokuyo THIN, Kokuyo MIO, various onion skin papers, Midori MD Cream, Kokuyo Smart Campus.

 

Many vendors also make soft cover, thread bound notebooks that are lay flat and because of the soft cover, do not have as much bulk and depth. However, most of these will still have that dead air between the writing surface and the page for the early and late pages in the book if they have high page counts. Nonetheless, they are thinner than a Leuchtturm1917 by a fair margin (for the typical hardcover Leuchtturm1917). In this category there are notebooks from Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm1917's softcovers, Apica Premium and standard CD lines, Tsubame Note, Midori MD, and a host of others. 

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