The Kyokuto F.O.B COOP memo book caught my eye because of its size and sturdy wire binding. I'd been on a memo book hunt, and this one seemed to be a book worth trying. After using it for a while, I understand that it's not really a good notebook for me, but that doesn't mean it's a bad notebook. Far from it — it's actually a great notebook as long as you're aware of the caveats.
There aren't a lot of caveats, so I'll make this simple. The F.O.B COOP memo book paper just isn't fountain pen friendly. It tends to do OK with fine Japanese nibs, but even those results are hit-and-miss. Liquid roller ball refills get similar results. But really, this notebook shines when it comes to gels and ballpoints. If that's your sweet spot, then this notebook could be a great companion.
As far as size goes, it's roughly the same width and height of a Field Notes book, minus about half an inch on the height. But the depth/thickness is about three Field Notes, which makes it a tad uncomfortable in the back pocket. Maybe you don't carry your memo books in your back pocket, so that isn't really a concern, but just be aware that it's a thick notebook. I'm not sure it's really meant to be carried in a pocket, but it can certainly be done.
Now, the notebook will be right at home in a bag of any kind. The front cover is made of a durable translucent plastic material, the back is a thick card stock, and the wire binding is robust, which means it can take a fair amount of abuse. In my experience, it does great if it's secured in the bag somehow. I wouldn't recommend letting it go freestyle in a bag as it might get banged up by larger objects.
The paper in this version is a 6mm lined format, but you can also get in plain. There are 80 sheets in the book, which is a lot more than you'll find in most memo books. Like I mentioned earlier, it sings when used with gels and ballpoints. The paper is delightfully smooth and feels fantastic when jotting down quick notes.
Fountain pens and rollerballs cause issues in this paper. My guess is that it's a combination of being thin and soft that make it vulnerable to feathering and show-through. Both of these things happen frequently with this paper. Some people may not be bothered by it, and others might outright despise it. Just be warned that it tends to feather and bleed through.
The size and sturdiness of the book make it a prime candidate for holding it in your palm while writing. I've never been a huge proponent of this method, but it does the job pretty well, thanks to the thick card stock on the back. When I jot notes like that, I always feel like a '40s reporter covering a breaking story — but the reality is I just prefer to write on a large, hard surface most of the time.
At just under 4 bucks, it's not a bad deal at all. If you want to try something besides a staple-bound 3.5x5.5" memo book for a change, consider the Kyokuyo F.O.B COOP. It's a fine notebook with smooth, glossy paper that feels great — just make sure you're using a gel or ballpoint pen.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)