Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Review of the Ciak notebook

Well, now that work has calmed a teensy bit I have got chance to review the stationery that I ordered from The Journal Shop.
It’s taken me a while to work out what I’m going to use all the notebooks for, but I think I have finally decided (at least for some of them). Some of the decisions needed to be made according to the qualities of the notebooks (lying flat etc).

I bought two Ciak notebooks, two Cartesio notebooks, a set of two Habana smooth and a 2012 Ciak diary. The diary is obvious, but what about the others?

Well, one of the Ciak notebooks is going to go to my sister for part of a birthday present (even though I think I might have given her one before, several years ago…). The other Ciak is being used for my ‘scribble book’ where I (not frequently enough) write for ten minutes without stopping. This isn’t a journal or necessarily about anything important – it’s just what crosses my mind in those ten minutes.
The two Cartesio are sitting in my notebook drawer and will end up being writing notebooks (though I may give one to my sister…).
The Habana smooth do not lie flat on the desk and so cannot be used for a notebook in which to plan novel #4. I will probably resort to another A4 Moleskine for that (unless anyone has other good suggestions??). One of them is now being used for my running log (since I somewhat foolishly announced to my Rotary club that I would run a half marathon to raise money…). The other is sitting in a drawer.

I’ll review each of them in turn, starting today with the Ciak.

The notebook arrived nicely wrapped. I was alarmed about the Eco sticker, having had bad experiences with fountain pens and recycled paper in the past. As described on the front label, there are 224 ruled pages in ivory inside.

More navy than on this picture
These notebooks are described as having leather covers, though they don’t smell of leather and they don’t quite feel like leather (and rummaging around on the Italian Ciak site, they are described as either “coagulated soft” (various translation sites) or “made leather” (Google) but not quite what they are made of). However, the feel is okay and the cover is stiff enough to write on, leaning on your knee and squashy enough to flex.

more this colour
wrapped version holding it open!
The paper is just off-white and the line spacing is 7mm. As you can see from the pictures, the notebook doesn’t lie flat without a bit of persuasion (though it’s much better than some). The front page has some simple lines to allow you to give the notebook a title. The first lined sheet is (as is the case in many books) stuck slightly to the front page along the spine-side and so not easy to fold back fully to write on. I therefore skipped this page and started with my fountain pen test on the next.

Not too much feathering
As I said earlier, the Eco sticker had alarmed me. Several years ago, Ciak paper wasn’t recycled and was (in my opinion) higher quality. Certainly my diary last year was significantly lower in quality than in previous years. I was therefore interested in how my fountain pens would fare.

As you can see, they’re not too bad, although the ink takes a little moment to dry. The paper is described (on the Italian site, assuming my translation’s okay!) as being 100g/m2. It feels thicker than printer paper but not too stiff. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality to be honest. But, did the fountain pen ink bleed through to the other side?

Well, yes. But not horrendously and the level is acceptable (to me at least). In reality it isn't quite as bad as in the photo.

Acceptable level of bleed-through
All Ciak notebooks have a ribbon marker, and in my experience, all of them start to fray from the end within a few weeks, so I always tie a knot at the end. Why they can’t bind the end or fuse it, I don’t know. The ribbon in my diary for 2011 not only unravelled really quickly but it actually wore through too. Maybe Ciak should spend a little bit more attention on the ribbon because in comparison with a Moleskine’s it’s poor.

Rubbish ribbon
There is an elastic closure on the notebook that fits into a notch in the cover. I have always loved this aspect of Ciak notebooks because I have yet to lose a pen that’s been held against the edge by the elastic. Other notebooks with vertical elastic closures just cannot hold a pen firmly.

Overall? I would give this 3.5 out of 5. It loses marks on the poor quality of the ribbon, the fact that the paper isn’t quite as nice as it used to be and because it doesn’t lie flat. However, the cover is sturdy (though probably not leather?) and the design is lovely. I personally like the 7mm spacing though I know for some this is perhaps too generous.

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