In this 4K video I review the Red by Black n’ Red A5 Hardcover notebook. This notebook features Black n’ Red’s 90 gsm Optik Paper, a high quality bright white paper as well as an excellent lay flat binding.
Gmund is one of the best paper manufacturers in Europe and while I don’t see many “Gmund” branded products, their paper is often a top choice for use in custom stationery and correspondence as well as high end business brochures and packaging.
Gmund is based in Gmund am Tegernsee, Germany and can trace it’s roots back to 1829. With over thirty product lines (each with numerous variations) there is a wide variety of offerings, everything from the high-tech to the traditional.
The book I am reviewing today is the Bavarian Book with the Vichy-Deer pattern. The linen fabric on the cover is supposed to resemble a fabric that would be used on a Dirndl (a traditional Bavarian dress).
The notebook is an A5 size with 120 blank pages (60 leafs) that are held together with a sewn binding. The softcover is flexible and the linen fabric provides a nice tactile feel.
The Gmund logo is debossed on the back of the cover.
The bright white pages are pretty thick (thicker than 80 GSM Rhodia paper) and hold fountain pen ink well with almost no ghosting. I did notice a hint of bleed-through with the ultra wide 2.4mm Pilot Parallel but for any normal point you should be just fine.
The binding is quite good and with a little use lies flat (as you can see in the pictures).
The design and feel of this notebook are standouts for me and a welcome change from the wonderful Japanese books I have been using a lot lately. The neon green deers, bookmark, and pastedown are great accents to the grey vichy (gingham) cover and bright white pages.
The Bavaria Book costs about $14 and can be purchased at Gmund’s website. Shipping is from Germany and although it isn’t too expensive, it did persuade me to order a few extra things that I will be reviewing in the coming weeks.
Stálogy is a stationery brand that isn’t particularly well known outside of Japan. They have only been around for a few years and while their line is small, they produce unusually well-executed products.
The #018 Editor’s Series 365 Days Notebook (yes, that’s a mouthful) caught my attention with it’s detailed half jacket that highlights its unique features.
When I picked up the sample notebook the first thing I noticed was how thin the pages were. Packing 368 pages (184 sheets) into a 14mm thick notebook is impressive. For comparison, my favorite Kokuyo Century Edition notebook only fits 140 pages (70 sheets) into 11mm and with a little bit of math at 14mm the Kokuyo would only hold 178 pages; that’s less than half the Stálogy.
The next thing I noticed was the thirty dollar price tag, yikes! Naturally I convinced myself into buying it; I mean, it has double the pages so really thirty bucks isn’t that bad…right?
Apart from the thin pages this notebook features a free daily dairy. The top of each page lists months, days of the week, and numbers 1-31 so that you can highlight or circle the appropriate date. The 4mm grey grid has the numbers 0-24 printed on every other line; this is a 24 hour timeline.
I found the calendar to be unobtrusive when I just wanted to take notes but also quite useful when I wanted to keep track of my day.
The paper’s performance was very good but being so thin there are some limitations. I would consider this to be fountain pen friendly paper though with my wider nibs I did notice some bleeding and on the really wide 2.4mm nib on my Pilot Parallel there was feathering.
There is also some show through. It’s not as bad as you get on Tomoe River paper but it’s noticeable.
With the stitched binding, flexible spine and tiny signatures there is no denying that this is a very high quality notebook, one that warrants its high price.
Would I buy another one? For home use there are other notebooks I like better (like the Kokuyo I mentioned above) but if I wanted to carry a lot of pages in a small package this could be a very good choice.
I questioned posting a review of this notebook for a number of reasons. First, I knew it would be challenging to write a review without any dreadful jokes; second, while the product is technically charitable and green it’s borderline distasteful and third, it’s actually quite disgusting. I didn’t think I would be grossed out by this notebook but I was and if you think you might be too there no harm in skipping this post. Bearing all of this in mind let’s get on with the review.
PooPooPaper (FKA: The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Company) is a company that turns animal poo into paper. They started with elephant poo and expanded the line the include dung from cows, pandas, donkey, moose and horse. Their web shop actually lets you shop products by poop type.
Their products are green because they are recycled and a portion of the proceeds goes to support animal conservation efforts. The notebook came with a very long pamphlet all about their product (and yes, it’s full of poop jokes).
The paper itself is quite strange. The front feels like a paper bag and the back feels like (and sort of looks like) a paper towel in texture.
The paper is a cream color but it’s not uniformly so; you can see different sorts of fibers that stand out on the page and are a bit distracting to look at. It is also lumpy in spots; I found dead bugs and gross unidentifiable material in the paper (I chose to exclude the pictures from the post).
It’s a very absorbent but fountain pen ink tends to bleed and feather. It’s not a nice paper to write on. It’s rough and probably not safe to use with fountain pens.
The notebook measures 8″ x 7.75″ and contains 20 blank pages for $16.99. The notebook itself is nicely put together but the paper is terrible to write on and to look at. This notebook is disgusting in my opinion and if you want to help conserve wildlife there are much nicer ways to go about it.
For those unfamiliar, Romeo is Itoya’s store brand and under than name they sell pens and pen related items. The products I have seen bearing the Romeo name are all of very high quality unlike typical store brand products.
The Romeo A5 spiral notebook is designed for use with fountain pens and even has a nib and ink bottle embossed in gold leaf on the textured black cover. The interior contains 70 sheets of cream colored paper with a grey ruling and a rather precise 102.9 g/m² weight. This is heavy weight paper and by comparison Rhodia’s paper is only 80 g/m².
As you would imagine that paper handles fountain pen ink link a champion. There was no bleed through in my test and only some minor feathering. Compared to other papers/notebooks I have tested this one is one of the best in terms of ghosting; there is almost none to speak of.
The paper is smoother than Rhodia’s, so if you like a lot of feedback, steer clear. I normally prefer a bit of feedback but it is nice to have a Rolls-Royce smooth ride every once in a while. I like to pair this paper with my fine and extra fine nibs as it makes them feel smoother than normal.
The double spiral binding is made out of brass wire and feels quite sturdy as does the stiff 600 g/m² cover.
This is a great notebook that I have been enjoying using. They cost only 800YEN (or about $6.5USD these days) and for that price you get a lot of notebook. They also come in blank and grid versions and I have seen them for sale on Rakuten (no affiliation).
Il Papiro is an Italian company that has been producing hand decorated paper products since the 1970s. While in Rome earlier this month I spotted their shop and the street and ventured inside. The small shop was filled with beautiful books, stationery and rubber stamps.
The marbleized books immediately caught my eye.
I picked one off of the shelf and the friendly saleswoman proceeded to show me the same book in a couple of sizes and in many different colors.
Because the books are marbleized by hand no two books are exactly the same.
I selected a green book with 10cm x 15cm pages.
The blank pages are of an excellent stationery-grade paper. The paper is watermarked with “Il Papiro Firenze” and their logo.
The paper holds fountain pen ink very well and you should have no problems writing on both sides of this paper.
The paper provides pleasant feedback while still feeling smooth.
The book has a stitched binding and small signatures, though not as small as those seen in high-end Japanese notebooks.
The cover has a nice texture that is pleasant to the touch. I really am enamored with this notebook.
So what are the drawbacks? As I am sure you can guess, it’s the price. My little notebook cost me 27€ (or about $30 USD at the time of this writing). I will buy more of these in the future but as a fountain pen user these notebooks are a luxury and not a necessity.
“Ambition” is the 25th release in the Field Notes Colors series of limited edition notebooks.
The three pack contains a datebook, ledger and memo book.
Let me say right off the bat that I do not have any use for a datebook or a ledger and I would have liked more memo books in any of the standard formats (dot grid, blank, lined, etc…). That aside, I think this is one of the very best Colors editions.
I love the subdued covers with gold embossed logos, gold colored staples, and gold leaf gilded edges. These books are nice.
The paper holds up to fountain pen ink quite well though thicker and juicer pens will bleed through.
I hope the Field Notes decides to make the Ambition memo book part of their permanent line. I would happily pay a premium for it over the standard memo book.
I love items that crossover my interests and the Hermès Ostrich GM notebook/agenda cover is just such an item. It combines my interest in stationery with my interest in fine leather craftsmanship.
The agenda is Hermès’ GM size which stands for “Grand Modèle” and is their second smallest agenda. The cover measures 9 cm wide x just over 13 cm long.
The cover is made out of a beautiful natural color ostrich skin (the pictures look much more orange). Ostrich is a bit of an obnoxious looking exotic leather but once you get past that it really is an excellent and long lasting skin. Hermès puts blind stamps in all of their products which allows me to date this cover to 1997 and at 17 years old it doesn’t look too bad.
The saddle stitch is done by hand and is of the highest quality. The benefits of a saddle stitch is strength and repairability. If a stitch becomes loose it can be easily repaired by an Hermès craftsman.
Hermès uses very high quality stationery grade paper in every notebook and agenda that I have seen and this is no exception. The GM size comes in a number formats to choose from. There are two agenda styles as well as a blank notebook and a lined notebook.
I normally prefer the lined version but they were out of it so I ended up with the blank version. The paper is very thin with a gilded edge but it holds fountain pen ink like a champion. The only bleeding I saw was with the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V10 which is a fat juicy 1.0mm roller ball.
There is minimal ghosting which is impressive for a paper so thin. The corners of the pages are perforated so that you can quickly jump to where you left off. The binding is ring bound with a split in the middle that allows you to bend the notebook into the clips of the agenda cover.
The blank and lined notebooks are $30 each and the agenda refills are $100+. As for the agenda cover the last time I checked it was right around $1,000. There is no denying that this is a luxury product; nobody needs a small notebook cover that is this expensive.
You can find these notebooks second hand for around $100-$200 depending on condition but be warned that there are fakes; Hermès wont sell anything with sloppy workmanship so check for tight saddle stitching a clean Hermès imprint. If you go used I recommend Japanese sellers as Japan has very strict laws on selling fakes.
I recently had the cover serviced by the Hermès craftsman in San Francisco and it cost $125 to spruce it up which is something Hermès recommends every three years.
2013 marked the 100th year that Kokuyo has produced western style notebooks and to celebrate they have released a limited edition notebook called the Century Edition which I picked up in the A5 format. The notebook features 70 sheets of 100g paper with a 6mm rule.
The look of this notebook is exceptional. The black cover is textured to feel like cloth. The combination of the black “cloth” with gold print and diagonal text block pattern (they also do a woven pattern text block version) creates a luxurious retro look.
The the pastedown and free endpaper is made from a single piece of thick red paper.
The luxury ruled ivory “Kokuyo Ledger paper” is designed to be used with fountain pens and is ultra smooth.
It handles fountain ink without any bleeding or showthrough. The dry time is surprisingly fast (for a smooth paper). This isn’t an absorbent paper but I have been using this notebook as a journal and upon review I am not seeing any of the usual smearing I see when compared to my Tomoe River and Rhodia journals.
The Century Edition has tiny little signatures and the binding is so good that I cannot for the life of me find the stitching with the book open. The binding lays quite flat on it’s own and improves with use.
I haven’t been wowed by Kokuyo products in the past but this is the finest notebook I have ever had the pleasure of owning. The cost? 1,000 YEN (about $10 USD)! It’s not expensive and it makes a Midori notebook look like a sloppy first attempt (okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration). I highly recommend the Kokuyo Century Edition notebook. I know I will be buying more in the future.