Etranger di Costarica Memo Book Review

I'm always on the lookout for good pocket memo books that play nicely with fountain pens and foutain pen inks, so it's no surprise that this post at The Well-Appointed Desk about the Etranger memo book caught my eye. Ana did a great job of showing the pros and cons of the book, so I ordered one right away from JetPens. I even chose the same color, because green is awesome.

Overall, this is a great little notebook, but this is one main reason why it hasn't become my number one memo book. For me, the lines are just too close together. By my measurement, the lines are 5 mm apart. I prefer something like 7 mm. That said, let's talk about the many things that make this notebook great.

The size

The size is comparable to the standard Field Notes size. It's just a bit smaller on both ends at 3.3" x 5.4". For reference, the Field Notes books are 3.5" x 5.5". The Etranger books pack in quite a few more pages than the Field Notes, however. 32 versus the Field Notes 24. Even though the books has more pages, it's still quite thin and I can barely feel it in my pocket.

The size is great and I can't really tell a difference between the size of this book and a Field Notes unless I have them side-by-side.

Paper quality

The paper quality is where the Etranger book beats out the generic Field Notes books for me. The paper doesn't handle foundtain pens like Rhodia or Clairefontaine, but it does a really good job. This is something that I've never been able to say about any Field Notes book I've used, and everyone knows that the Field Notes paper doesn't typically do well with fountain pens. That doesn't change the fact that I really would like to enjoy both the pocketable form factor and high-quality paper in a notebook.

I've used several different pens in this book so far, and it handles them all adequately. Obviously, it does better with finer nibs. Wetter nibs and inks tend to show through quite a bit, but dry inks and fine nibs do well. The paper is a nice white color, which is something I prefer.

Some inks also tend to feather a bit on this paper, but you have to look closely to notice it. If this was expensive paper, I'd complain, but for under $4, this is pretty impressive.

Now, for the reason that I can't use this book as my #1 pocket memo book: the lines. The lines! They're so close together. I normally prefer lined paper, but this is just too small. I have a Kokuyo notebook with 6 mm spacing, and it's manageable. I really like 7 mm spacing, honestly. But 5 mm is just too much for me. And my OCD won't allow me to use two lines for writing, so I'm stuck trying to fit my words into the tiny space allotted. If they had other options for lines, grids, plain, etc., I'd be extremely happy.

The outside

These books have a cover that is similar to other pocket memo books in that it's a medium-weight craft paper. What's different about the Etranger books is that they also come with a semi-transparent vinyl cover that slips onto each cover of the notebook. I wasn't sure if I'd like this when I ordered it, but after using it for a while, I've really grown to like it.

It feels good in hand, offers much more protection, and gives the plain white notebook a bit of personality. There are many colors to choose from, but I still think Apple Green is the right choice.

The book has no trouble mostly laying flat, and it closes nicely as well.

Overall

This is a fantastic notebook. For the price of a single Field Notes, you get a comparable notebook that has more pages, a vinyl cover, and is more friendly with fountain pens and inks. It's not for everyone due to the small spaced lines, but that doesn't stop me from using it every week. Even with the small line spacing, this notebook is far from a disappointment.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and App.net.)

Posted on July 30, 2014 and filed under Notebook Reviews, Etranger di Costarica.

Platinum Double R3 Action Sarabo MWB-1000F 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil - Chartres Blue Review

Longest. Pen. Name. Ever.

I’ve seen some long, winding, nonsensical pen names before but this Platinum may take the cake. Good thing it is a decent pen or I’m not sure my brain could have handled it.

The Platinum Double R3 fills a spot in Platinum’s lineup for those wanting a complimentary pen to go along with their popular #3776 Century Fountain Pen. The barrel colors are a perfect match - Black, Bourgogne, and Chartres Blue - although the multi pen has silver furniture, while the fountain pens use gold.

The Double R3 features a lightweight, translucent, plastic barrel that is very sharp looking - especially the Chartres Blue. It is very light though, but feels sturdy enough to handle any normal carry situation.

Where this pen seperates itself from its competitors is the use of Platinum’s low-viscosity Sarabo ink in the 0.5 mm ballpoint refills. They are very fine, clean, and impressively smooth. I have never used a Sarabo refill before but it is so nice I would love to see it used in other single cartridge pens.

I don’t use pencils in multi pens very often so I don’t have much to say about it besides it works. What is cool is that it has possibly the largest eraser I have seen in a multi pen before. That’s a nice bonus for my fully leaded friends.

The only hangup I have with the Double R3 is a common multi pen design problem. To switch refills you twist the top part of the barrel from station to station, but if you take it past the far right station you start to unscrew the barrel. This is the nature of the beast until you get into more expensive barrels that feature constant 360 degree rotation.

At $16.50 it isn’t exactly cheap, but it is a fair price for a complementary pen. It’s great looking, feels nice, and the ballpoint refills are excellent. Well done Platinum.

(JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

Posted on July 28, 2014 and filed under Multi Pen, Pen Reviews, Platinum.

Ink Links

-- Palomino Blackwings Review (The Finer Point)

-- Bexley Columbus Pen Show 2013 LE (mycoffeepot.org)

-- Montblanc Albert Einstein (inklode)

-- When (Decent) Fountain Pens Were Sold at Staples (The Gentleman Stationer)

-- How do you use your notebooks? (All Things Stationery)

-- Sheaffer 300 Roller Ball Pen (My Supply Room)

-- The Pen Hunter (Uni-Ball Signo RT)

-- The Esterbrook Bandwagon (Pen Pursuit)

-- Nakahara-shiki (中原式) (Crónicas Estilográficas)

-- Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 40P Fountain Pen - Masuyama Broad Stub (Gourmet Pens)

-- Moore Safety with Wahl #2 nib (The Passionate Penman)

-- Staedtler pigment liner and Moleskine notebook (Matt Gemmell)

-- Nock Co Brasstown & Hightower Review (Nib Creep)

-- Review: Zebra Sharbo-X Multi-Pen in Mint (The Well-Appointed Desk)

-- Sparky's Pens, July 2014 (MacSparky)

-- The Desks Of Gear Patrol (Gear Patrol)

-- Pilot Metropolitan — A Brief Review (The Cramped)

-- Yard-O-Led Ink Review (The Desk of Adam)

-- Ink Notes: Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite Cartridge (Fountain Pen Quest)

-- Caran d'Ache Chromatics Idyllic Blue (Write to Me Often)

-- Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil Set by now&then (The Clicky Post)

-- Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen review (Peninkcillin)

-- Refreshing! The Kaweco Skyline Sport (Mint) (From the Pen Cup)

-- Parker Vector Navy Body Fountain Pen (No Pen Intended)

-- Sailor Jentle Grenade ink review (Pens! Paper! Pencils!)

-- Pen Shopping in Paris and Copenhagen (THE UNROYAL WARRANT)

-- The Pilot G-2 (The Pen Hunter)

-- Pen Review: Nakaya Neo Standard (The Pen Habit)

Posted on July 26, 2014 and filed under Links.

The Demise Of The Pen Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

I am as digitally entrenched as anyone I know. I work in IT, read all the tech news, buy the latest gadgets and apps, and am the neighborhood tech support guy. I love the digital world, but pen and paper are, and will always be, a huge part of my life.

My Twitter feed blew up tonight with links to a New York Times article by Nick Bilton titled "Fare Thee Well, My Pen." Mr. Bilton, it seems, is in love with his finger:

Unlike pens, fingers don’t run out of ink, they’re free and you always have one with you. I use mine to take notes on my phone, highlight books on my Kindle and draw pictures on my iPad. I don’t have to worry about losing this work because, unlike a piece of paper, my digital notes live in perpetuity online.

I, too, use my fingers quite frequently. They are pecking away at a keyboard typing up this post as a matter of fact. And yes, I would be sad if all of my digital notes up and vanished one day. But this digital form of expression is nothing compared to putting pen to paper.

Writing is more personal. It's more passionate. There is more meaning behind it. Writing a daily journal entry is cathartic. Sending a handwritten letter shows how much you care. I find it sad that Mr. Bilton's girlfriend will never find a handwritten love letter on her pillow. Maybe he can send her an email.

From a business perspective, he writes:

Not surprisingly, some pen makers have seen declines in the United States, including Bic, the maker of those iconic plastic disposable pens, which said sales of pens fell slightly last year.

Any reader of this blog needs only one guess as to why Bic's sales are down. Let me enlighten Nick: They make a bad product. There is a reason Microsoft is laying off thousands of people this week. Consumers vote with their wallets, and like Microsoft, Bic has lost touch with what consumers want.

My evidence is purely anecdotal, but from where I sit, the pen and paper industry is as strong as ever, especially for those willing to innovate. Yes, the traditional brick and mortar store has seen a huge decline, but that is not a problem limited to the pen industry. Online retailers are thriving more than ever, pen communities like this and others continue to grow, and new pen and paper addicts are being created daily.

Drew Magary, closet pen junkie, breaks down the entire Bilton article hilariously in a piece called "Asshole Cannot Find Pen; Writes Entire NYT Trend Piece About It", which is worth a few giggles.

I feel sad for Nick Bilton that he will not get to experience the joys of pen and paper for the rest of his life. Maybe I should send him a care package - with a hand written letter.

Posted on July 24, 2014 .