Top-bound spiral notebooks are certainly less common as the traditional side-bound notebook, but there's a lot to be said for the vertical format. While it's not "the standard," it has a lot of advantages. My favorite advantage is that the binding is never in my way. The only problem seems to be that there are significantly fewer options if you want a top-bound notebook. And, this notebook that I'm about to review and recommend can be even more difficult to find. But, if you happen across one, you should pick it up and give it a try.
The Delfonics Rollbahn line of notebooks was new to me before I received this notebook. Given the name and the German slogans on the front cover, you might assume that it's made in Germany, but that would be incorrect. Delfonics come from Japan, and they feature the quality and durability that we have come to expect from their stationery exports.
The particular notebook that I have (and can't get enough of) is the Rollbahn Vertical Pocket Memo book. It's top-bound with a dual spiral that is one of the most sturdy spiral bound books I've had the pleasure of using. This particular size is 105 x 155 mm (4.13 x 6.1 inches) with 120 pages of 5mm graph ruling on smooth cream paper. The front cover is a bright orange and is reasonably thick, while the back cover is a thick cardstock with an elastic band to keep the notebook closed. It's sturdy, and it's pocketable.
Apart from the branding on the front of the notebook, there's nothing else apart from a small "Delfonics" embossed on the back. Branding is minimal, and that plays well with the overall aesthetic of the book. The color of the front color is very close to the shade of orange on the Lamy Pico I reviewed a few weeks back. It's florescent orange, and it's awesome.
The pages are all perforated and come out easily without crooked tears. One interesting thing is the back of the notebook has 5 clear plastic pockets that are the same size as the notebook. They can hold pages that you've torn out, or anything else that will fit. It's a useful feature for such a small book.
Once you get past the visual aspects of the notebook, all that's left is the paper quality, which is excellent. This is on par with most of the Japanese paper I've used in that it's soft, smooth, and handles fountain pens extremely well. In my testing, only wider nibs result in small amounts of feathering and show-through. With most pens, you'll be able to use both sides of the page. The graph is a good size and the graph lines are subtle enough to stay out of your way if you don't need them.
Overall, I've really enjoyed this notebook. It's a great size, easy to use in the palm of my hand (due to the stiff back cover), and has excellent paper inside.
There is one major drawback, however. These notebooks are difficult to find (in the US, at least). The Delfonics site is in Japanese, and there are a few one-off retailers in the US that sell a couple of the Rollbahn notebooks, and there are a handful on Amazon. If we're lucky, more US retailers might start carrying this great brand. If you're in a region of the world where Delfonics are easy to get, congratulations! Give them a try the next time you see them. As for me, I'll be looking for a US retail option that stocks these wonderful books.
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