The Leuchtturm1917 brand of notebooks has been a favorite of mine for quite a while, so I was excited to receive the new Academy Pad to review. The Academy Pad is unique compared to other notebooks like it — instead of a nicely bound notebook sandwiched between a handsome black cover, the Academy Pad is a 60-sheet pad that is attached to a traditional black notebook cover, complete with an inside pocket and elastic band closure.
The Academy Pad comes in either blank or ruled, but the blank also comes with a grid guide sheet that you can place behind the paper while you write. This helps by providing a grid system behind the page so you can write in a straight line. Sadly, these guides are never a big help for me, but that's a user problem, not the product.
The A5 pad has 60 sheets of the fantastic paper you know and love from Leuchtturm. The only difference here is that the pad is bound by glue on the left side of the pages, which makes it easy to rip out sheets. In fact, that's the intended design of this notebook. Once a page is full, you rip it out and store it in the pocket, give it away, throw it in the bin, or whatever other purpose you have for it. Once I wrapped my head around this concept, it started to click with me.
The paper in this pad is identical to what you'll find in any Leuchtturm notebook, and that was a huge relief for me. It features 100gsm paper, rounded corners, acid-free paper, and bleed-proof paper, among other things. While the paper is bleed-proof, it does allow ink to show through the other side if you're using anything larger than a fine fountain pen nib. The Pilot brush pen I used was the obvious deal-breaker here, but that's not what I call a common use case. At any rate, Leuchtturm doesn't market this book as a sketchbook, so you shouldn't expect a brush pen to play nicely with it. Overall, writing in this pad was identical to writing in other Leuchtturm notebooks, and that's a great thing.
The tearing action is exceptionally smooth on this pad. In some pads, the glue is too strong or the paper is too weak, leading to easily ripped pages. That hasn't been the case in this pad — the binding and paper strength creates a perfect blend. After filling a page, simply pull down from the corner, and the pages slips out with a quiet, satisfying noise. Again, there's a convenient pocket inside the notebook, but it's positioned on the front cover instead of the back in this case. The pocket is easier to get into than the standard notebooks, and it can hold a lot of paper.
The outside cover feels a bit large compared to the pad, but I think that's a design element to protect the pad. I don't like it because it makes the notebook look poorly made (like they didn't properly measure before printing out thousands of covers), but that's not a deal-breaker for me. I do wish that the width was consistent through the entire notebook. Instead, the wide closest to the binding is a couple millimeters taller than the right-hand edge thickness. A minor complaint, but one that I can't but notice every time I look at the notebook.
When it comes down to it, I like the notebook, but it also confuses me. As a pad of paper, it's exceptionally well-made. It offers a great writing experience, high-quality binding, and plenty of utility. I'm confused by the cover because I'm not sure why it's included. It gets in my way, and I don't think it adds anything to the overall notebook. On top of that, I don't see any replacement pads (sans-cover) for sale on JetPens, which strikes me as odd due to the fact that the pad easily slips out of the back cover. I assumed this meant the pad was replaceable, but now I'm second-guessing that assumption. Maybe JetPens will offer replacement pads in the future, because I can only assume that you're meant to throw away the empty cover once you've finished a pad. That seems wasteful, and I'd like to see replacement pads as an option.
Either way, this is a well-made notebook, on par with Leuchtturm's other offerings. It comes in blank and ruled paper, and it sells for a little under $20. If you see this notebook and immediately think of a use case, then grab it! Otherwise, you might want to skip it in favor of a more traditional notebook or naked pad of paper.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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