Posts filed under Notebook Reviews

Midori Traveler's Notebook Passport Review

To say the Midori Traveler's Notebook has a cult following is probably a bit of an understatement. The Western market has begun to discover this over the past few years, while the Far East is knee deep into all things Traveler's. I admit to not really "getting it" for a while, but now that I have a Passport sized Midori I'm beginning to see what all the fuss is about.

People ask me all the time "Why fountain pens?" My answer, almost always, is customization. I can take one specific fountain pen and build it exactly to my liking with nib and ink choices. Someone else can choose the same fountain pen and have a completely different, yet still perfect, experience. This exemplifies what the Midori Traveler's notebook is all about.

It starts with a simple leather cover. The not too thick, not too thin, rectangular hide has no adornments, aside from the few holes the elastic bands require, along with two small slits in the spine. If anything, I think the simplicity of the cover is what confuses people the most about the Midori Traveler's system. Why should I pay $50 for a non-descript hunk of leather? I struggled with that same question for years. But then again, why fountain pens?

Customization is at the core of what the Midori Traveler's system is all about. I use the term system loosely, because there are honestly zero guidelines on how you should use or build your Traveler's Notebook. I started out simple, in this case choosing two grid notebooks, a zipper case to hold business cards and loose papers, and a set of connecting bands, which we will get to in a moment.

To put it into action, you simply need to slide one notebook through the elastic band found in the spine of the leather cover, and then add any additional notebooks or accessories with the help of the aforementioned connecting bands. Mentioning these bands for a second time is where a slight digression needs to take place. Part of the fun of the Midori Traveler's system is that you don't need to buy any part of it to have a similar experience. The connecting bands? Rubber bands that you probably have laying around the house. Leather cover? Google the term "fauxdori". Any paper insert can be printed from one of the many Midori resources on the web. All that said, Midori gets design - and marketing - right. Quality and thoughtfulness of their products is part of the experience.

I'm a novice compared to those who have been using a Midori Traveler's notebook for a while, but I am having fun putting personal touches on my Passport. One of the most common questions that arise around this size Midori is will a Field Notes notebook, or any other standard 3.5" x 5.5" memo book fit in the cover? In short, no. The leather cover is designed to hold a 3.5" x 5" notebook, so standard memo books are too long. But you know what does fit perfectly? The Baron Fig Apprentice. Adding one of those into my Passport cover was a no-brainer.

While building it is fun, putting the Midori Traveler's Notebook into use as part of my daily carry is still something I am working on. Prior to getting this model from JetPens, I had purchased the regular sized Midori cover from the now shuttered Resor Shop. I loved every aspect of the bigger size, but I never fully committed to it. The Passport seems more my size and speed. So far, I am using it for daily tasks and future planning as part of my portable writing kit. I can toss my inbox (aka the Nock Co. DotDash Notebook) and any pen I want to use through the external elastic band and hit the road.

Before I owned a Midori I drooled at all of the pictures online of various Traveler's Notebook setups. Patrick Ng is my Midori muse, and should be followed by anyone with an interest in Midori, or even an in interest in product photography and design. His day job keeps him on the front lines of all things Midori, and his Instagram and Flickr feeds are not to be missed.

How do you use your Midori? What tips and tricks do you have? Who do you follow in the Traveler's Notebook world? I'm on board the Traveler's train and ready to explore!

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on March 2, 2015 and filed under Midori, Notebook Reviews, Traveler's Notebook.

Kyokuto F.O.B COOP Memo Book Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

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.)

Posted on February 25, 2015 and filed under Notebook Reviews, Kyokuto.

Apica Premium C.D. Notebook A6 Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

There are as many different types of notebooks as there are fountain pens it seems, but you can also argue that each different type excels in different areas for different purposes. In this case, I've had the honor of reviewing an extremely high quality notebook from Apica that continues to blow my mind when I write in it.

The Apica Premium C.D. notebook is one of the most high-quality books I've had the pleasure of using. It makes me smile to move the pen across the page because it glides so effortlessly and never produces any feedback — sometimes I'm amazed that it's even making a mark on the page because it feels so smooth.

According to JetPens, the paper in these notebooks is called "A.Silky 865 Premium," and that's a very apt description. This is a premium product offering from Apica, so the price coincides with that, but it really is worth it if you value the pleasure of writing on paper as smooth as silk.

Of course, there are plenty of other premium notebook offerings from Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Kokuyo, Mnemosyne, and more, but I don't think any of them are as smooth as the paper in this Apica notebook. It really is incredible. Don't get me wrong, the other high-quality notebooks have some awesome paper, but it just isn't glassy smooth like this one.

The notebook I got is a blank version, and I think I'd prefer lines next time, but that's just my own preference. I'm too sloppy of a writer to use a blank notebook effectively.

Moving on from the paper in the notebook, the rest of the book is high-quality as well. The stitching and binding is neat and tight, the covers are sturdy but just a bit flexible, and the notebook is easy to open and lays flat without much problem.

The size I have is A6 (4.1 x 5.8 inches) and contains 96 sheets, although other sizes are available. The A6 size is a bit large for pockets, but does well in purses and smaller pockets in bags.

Quite simply, this notebook comes at a premium price for good reason. It's a dream to write in, and it's built to last. Oh, and it looks pretty classy at the same time. I love the silver embossing and accents. Want to try out a fancy new notebook? Give an Apica Premium C.D. book a try.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 14, 2015 and filed under Apica, Notebook Reviews.

Kokuyo Campus Twin Ring Notebook Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Affordable, dependable, and delightful. That's how I describe the Kokuyo Campus Twin Ring notebooks. I honestly don't know why it took me so long to try one of these notebooks, but I'm sure glad I did.

These notebooks come in at a whopping $5.50 a piece, with your choice of 6 or 7 mm rule and an assortment of colors. At a price like that, it's hard to argue that this is a high value notebook.

I went through a phase recently where I didn't want anything to do with spiral notebooks. No idea why, but it happened. That's no longer the case, as I really appreciate the versatility of a spiral notebook – particularly how they lay completely flat and don't require any sort of stabilizing pressure to keep pages down while writing. Other types of bound books also have their perks, so it's just a question of mood or needs for the job when it comes to picking one based on binding.

The binding in the Kokuyo is twin ring, which means there are two rings for each hole in the paper. This creates a strong spiral that resists being deformed when put in a bag with other large objects. I always hated how my notebooks in school would exhibit a harsh slant in the spiral binding after a couple of weeks of class. With the Kokuyo notebooks, this isn't as much of an issue due to the smaller diameter of the spiral, and the extra reinforcement. As another bonus, the double spiral also means there are fewer accidental tears. It seems like single spiral notebooks loose pages more frequently because it's easier to rip them out.

The front of the book has two covers in a way – a semi-rigid translucent front cover, and a normal cover with the branding and information just after that. I'm assuming the translucent cover on the front is to add a bit of protection to the book, but I'm confused as to why there's only one. Why not a little protection on the back? Given the price, it's hard to complain.

So, it's a notebook that you write in. How does it handle inks? Really well.

This isn't a premium paper, so you can easily find notebooks that feel smoother and handle show-through much better, but you'll pay much for them, especially if they are similarly sized. The semi-B5 size is a great step up from the standard 5.5" x 8.5" notebooks that are really common. It's not so big as to be unusable on small desks, but it's also quite spacious.

Writing with fountain pens in this book is smooth. The paper is a great quality and I'm really happy with it. It does show through a bit to the back of the page, but not so much that it renders the back page unusable. It's only a minor problem in my opinion, and even when using wide nibs I've not had any problems using the back page.

I haven't seen any feathering with the inks I've tried, but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the inks that are infamous for feathering showed a slight amount of feathering on this paper. Dry time is pretty quick as the paper is fairly absorbent. The ink doesn't lay on top of the page very long. Overall, it's a fantastic paper for the price.

The notebooks only come in ruled format, but you can choose between 6 mm and 7 mm spacing. The 6 mm ruling comes in a green or red cover, and the 7 mm books are available in yellow or blue covers. Like most Kokuyo paper, there's an area at the top for the date and other information for your notes. Every fifth line is denoted with a tiny dot at the beginning and end of the line. I've never used this, but it's worth mentioning.

Honestly, I wouldn't expect this book to live long in a harsh environment (like a backpack with textbooks), but the good news is that it fits the Kokuyo Systemic cover. The cover will keep everything inside pristine.

Overall, I can't recommend this book enough if you're looking for a semi-B5 or B5 sized notebook that handles fountain pens well. It's not in the same performance category as others (Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Mnemosyne, etc.), but it also isn't in that price category either. It's a great budget book for taking notes and carrying daily.

Posted on December 10, 2014 and filed under Kokuyo, Notebook Reviews.