Get Ready For Black Friday With Pen Chalet

The biggest shopping days of the year are upon us and Pen Chalet has all of your pen and ink needs covered.

From Friday, November 28th through Monday, December 1st, Pen Chalet will be discounting all items in their shop. That's right - ALL of them! The coupon will be live this Friday and will be valid on already discounted items as well.

You can get a sneak peek of some of the big discounts on Pen Chalet's Black Friday Sale page, including great products from my favorite brands such as Pelikan, Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor. And keep checking back for more deep discounts as the sale progresses.

Start checking those gifts off your shopping list, and maybe pick something up for yourself while you are at it. And don't forget there is free shipping on all orders over $50 - an easy mark to hit with all of these great deals!

My thanks to Pen Chalet for sponsoring The Pen Addict this week.

Posted on November 24, 2014 and filed under Featured Sponsor.

Baron Fig Apprentice Notebook Review

The Baron Fig Apprentice and I got off on the wrong foot. I had a remote writing session planned, taking the kids with me to Starbucks on a Saturday and hoping to knock a few reviews out. I grabbed a handful of pens, some paper, and grabbed one of the new Apprentice notebooks Baron Fig was kind enough to send me fresh from the 3-pack.

We settled in at Starbucks, me with a tall coffee and the kids with awesomely overpriced cake pops and Sanpelligrino. But hey, it's an outing, and I'm glad to get out of the house for an hour or two and write and draw with the kids.

I was anxious to spend some time with the Apprentice, so I cracked it open and started testing a few different pens and inks on the back pages, as you do. I immediately noticed that the pages and covers wouldn't stay flat. Then I took this picture:

Crooked Fingers.jpg

Not a happy maker. See how the stitching is crooked and almost wraps around the binding? That causes the inside pages to lay awkwardly and makes for an strange writing experience. If the stitching was straight - no issue at all.

Customer service in an always online world is a funny thing. It's hard to get right, both from a customer expectation standpoint and a business standpoint. Everything Baron Fig did to correct this was fantastic. Let me give a few tips on how both consumers and businesses can work together to come to a happy resolution:

  1. As a customer, don't be an asshole. Mistakes happen, problems arise. I was not happy with my notebook, and while I wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, I wasn't a jerk either.
  2. If you are going to call out a company on social media, have the stones to include their handle so they may see the problem you are having. If you are going to blast someone and not link to them somehow you are giving the company less of a chance to make things right.
  3. As a company, own the problem. Most customers are understanding and appreciate the honesty and two-way conversation.
  4. Have a solution, and deliver. Any company worth their salt should be able to explain how they will handle the issue clearly and directly.

To their credit, Baron Fig did an amazing job following up with my issue. I tagged them in my Instagram pic and they responded before I had even left Starbucks. And they didn't just respond, they owned the issue, made me smile, and emailed me right away stating a replacement was on the way.

That is how you do business.

I wanted to go through this entire scenario because sometimes first impressions cloud our judgement. We are all guilty of this, myself included. But first impressions can be changed, and that all depends on how you and the companies you deal with handle problems.

That huge digression aside, how is the Baron Fig Apprentice as a notebook? It's good. Not exceptional, not awful. But good, and that is ok. This is a notebook made to be used and abused and it is perfect for that. The cover feels sturdy enough to take a beating, and the paper handled most inks I threw at it, with the exception of a few of the inkiest fountain pen and marker inks.

The main difference between the Apprentice and many other similar notebooks are the dimensions. A standard memo book runs 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" while the Apprentice runs 3 1/2" x 5". They call this Smart Dimensions to make the page more breathable, but to me it feels stubby and less breathable. It is more pocketable this way though, but those who like to use specialty covers with their notebooks may have a little extra wiggle in the fit.

At $9 for a 3-pack, I think the Apprentice will do very well for Baron Fig. The Confidant has a large and loyal following and the Apprentice is a great compliment to their product line.

My thanks to Baron Fig for sending me BOTH of the 3-packs of Apprentice notebooks for review. Be sure to check out the excellent interview with the gentlemen behind Baron Fig at Tools & Toys.

Posted on November 24, 2014 and filed under Baron Fig, Notebook Reviews.

Three Questions With Bruno From Cronicas Estilograficas

I'm not sure I have learned more from another blog than Bruno Taut's Cronicas Estilograficas. The items he gets his hands on - primarily vintage Japanese - and the knowledge he shares have been supremely helpful through the years. My thanks to Bruno for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

You ask about the role of analog tools and not about what I use and how often… That is a tricky question. I do not think in terms of what is analog and what is digital when using that specific tool. In fact, thinking about this point, and checking other people’s responses, I came to realize that I do not have a clear idea anymore of what is analog and what is digital.

Yes, I use pens and papers everyday, but there is nothing special on that. I use those because I like pens, and that is all about it. I think, though, that the popularity of stationery goods might be very well related to the fact that we can bring some fun – those products — to very tedious and routine tasks.

What other analog tools do I use? A pair of loudspeakers, albeit I am enjoying silence more and more.

If speaking specifically about pens and paper, the answer is easy — I use those everyday. Most of my writing is done on paper with a fountain pen. My blog entries are first written on paper – a notebook — with a fountain pen, and only after a couple of revisions I transcribe those texts on the computer.

Now, what other analog tools do I use? Typing on the computer keyboard seems to be a digital task; writing with a pen, an analog one… What about typing on a typewriter? Oh, excuse my digression — I love to deconstruct concepts.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

I enjoy a lot my coffee grinder – a Porlex with ceramic mill, but that might only show how much I love coffee. My bicycles – a Giant and Marin, both made in Taiwan - are also sources of sanity, and that despite how bicycle-unfriendly Tokyo is.

3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

I like the series of entries made on those Platinum pens sold overseas under other brands — Hifra, Joker, Presidente (see here, for instance,). That information was new – Platinum does not seem to know about them -, and it was also the result of the collaboration with a reader –Kostas K—I got to know solely due to my blog. So, I think we made some actual contribution to the history of fountain pens, even if very minor. Minor indeed they are as those Chronicles are far from being among the most popular ones.

Posted on November 22, 2014 and filed under Three Questions.