I've done a few notebook reviews in the past several weeks, so don't take it lightly when I say that this is one of the best value notebooks available today. The Apica CD11 A5 notebook has quickly flown up the ranks in my mind of notebook ratings. Let's take a look at my reasons for such an opinionated statement.
Wowzers — this is some nice paper. It's on par with the Clairefontaine paper that I've reviewed, but it's available at a lower price. $6.95 is the price at JetPens for the A5 size. Oh, and that price includes 3 notebooks that have 28 sheets a piece. I know, right?
The paper is white with gray-blue lines. According to JetPens, the lines are 7 mm apart, which is similar to narrow or "college" rule. It's very smooth to the touch and when you write. Every pen that I've used with this paper has performed admirably. I haven't noticed any negative qualities with the paper except with one ink, but I'll cover that later.
In all the inks and pens I've tried, there's been no feathering (except for one ink) and no bleed through to speak of. Every pen I've tried glides effortlessly over this paper. It's as smooth as can be.
I noticed some feathering when I used J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir on this paper. I used the inks in two pens, and they both had the same symptoms. I wasn't really surprised when the Plumix created some feathering, but I was perplexed when the Kaweco EF also did it. My only answer is that there's some property (or properties) in the Eclat de Saphir that make it susceptible to feathering on this paper. I haven't noticed this behavior from this ink on other papers. Strange.
Anyway, apart from that one downside, I love this paper.
I went with the navy cover, but the other color options aren't bad. I might end up trying other colors out at some point. JetPens offers these books in yellow, white, sky blue, red, navy, mustard, light green, light blue, and black.
The cover is a thick paper that seems to do OK with regular wear and tear. Personally, I think a nice leather cover would be a great addition to this book. The paper just isn't thick enough to stand up to some of the abuse it might see during its tour of duty. There's silver decorative print (or black, depending on the cover color) and designs on the front cover, and minimal product information on the back. The paper has a nice texture that adds to the feel and aesthetic of the book. Overall, it looks nicer than what it cost.
The book is bound with thread. So far, it's a strong bind and the book has no problem laying flat once you've broken it in a little.
For the quality of paper in this notebook, you really can't beat the price. Like the description from JetPens says, these "notebooks are ideal for your basic writing needs." Yes, they're relatively inexpensive. Yes, they're fairly basic and offer no perks. But they offer a writing experience that is friendly to every pen I've tried. That's difficult to come by. Give these notebooks a shot! They're available in the A5 size that I've reviewed here, or in semi B5.