On Notebooks

Samples from Exaclair. Sheaffer pen from my collection.

While my return to using fountain pens is fairly recent, notebooks have always been an important part of my writer’s toolkit. I am not a “journaler.”  For me notebooks are for capturing thoughts, writing first drafts, and research note-taking. There must be at least 200 notebooks of various shapes and sizes in my office closet. Somewhere around 5-8% of them have not yet been written in and may not be fountain pen friendly which is a new consideration in notebook acquisition and usage.

For a very long time I have been looking for notebooks that are fountain pen friendly as well as made by a company that practices good environmental stewardship. Paper made from hemp, bananas and elephant poo are great ideas. They do not yet lend themselves well to fountain pen ink.

I’m someone who uses LED and CFLs and permanent furnace filters, composts 98% of my food scraps, works yard waste back into the yard, recycles everything possible, has a gray water system, and tries to make good purchasing decisions for stuff coming into my house. Yet I am far, far from perfect. And perfection can be the enemy of the good. My ideal notebook would be made of recycled material, made locally and I could walk somewhere to buy it for $3. I suppose I could give up paper entirely and just go completely digital. But I love paper and pen, and the act of writing something down with a pen, not a keyboard, helps me to remember things and fosters my creativity.

Apica 6A10, soft cover

For over six years my favorite notebook has been the Apica 6A10 which is 7″ x 10″ and contains 100 pages. It’s a great size for slipping into a bag and writing drafts or notes for extended periods of time. As luck would have it the Apica 6A10 does not bleed through using fountain pens and J. Herbin and Diamine inks. Manufactured in Japan the notebook is hard to find in the U.S. Of late, I have only found it online. Also, I cannot find any verification that the paper is recycled or what the company of Apica is all about. The 6A10 costs around $6.50 not including shipping.

Blueline, hard cover

A year ago I picked up a Canadian manufactured notebook called Blueline. It has a hard cover and measures 7 1/4″ x 9 1/4″. The inside cover states, “This acid-free paper is made of recycled fibers, including a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste.” I like the footprint of the notebook but a significant amount of bleed-through with fountain pen ink comes through the page. While I remember I spent around $5 for the notebook I can’t remember where I found it. It has been difficult to find again and costs more like $7-$8 sans shipping. Blueline owns Rediform which also makes a former favorite notebook, the National Brand Porta-Desk. Based on the bleed-through alone I won’t get another.

Miguelrius has been another favorite notebook, especially the tiny flexible notebook. It’s still a good bargain at $3.99 for the pocket flexible notebook. The notebook, however, varies on bleed-through depending on the ink and the nib being used. Alas, the lack of recycled material is discouraging. As my supply of the flexible notebook is nearing its end I am looking for a replacement for the flexible. The criteria: must be able to withstand being carried in my back jeans pocket, and be around 2 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ in size.

As well, the criteria for any new notebook coming into my office: the paper must be environmentally and fountain pen friendly.

3 thoughts on “On Notebooks

  1. I’ve got one of the Blueline HC books. They are available at any COOP on university campuses in Canada. They are basically used for lab notes.

    I’ve noticed some bleed through. The pages aren’t fountain pen friendly. They look good, and store great, but they are expensive. I’ve still got a price sticker on mine, and I bought it for around $9CAD. It was a blue 8½×11.

    Miguelrius notebooks are fun. I’ve got a small A5, depicting a red riding hood kicking a big bad wolf in the happy sacks. They aren’t fountain pen friendly either.


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