Friday, 17 August 2012

Review of Clairefontaine A5 cloth bound exercise book

Happy day!! A parcel of new notebooks arrived this morning from Bureau Direct (my new favourite stationery store).

Those of you who are cast in the same mould as my DH will be saying, “Why do you need more notebooks, oh owner of The Notebook Emporium*?”
*the name DH gives to my stash of books

Because, this happened when I started to write in my Cartesio notebook the other day!!

Cartesio acting like blotting paper


Now, I love my Cartesio notebooks (see where I have blogged about them here) but, oh heavens, what a mess!

I had wanted a nice notebook that I could stick in my handbag to use for jotting notes for a book in. Cartesio books are just about perfect for it, except the paper seems to have converted itself into blotting paper!

So, I did a search for Clairefontaine A5, and a few options came up.
Why Clairefontaine? This picture sums it up…

Label from another Clairefontaine product
Why A5? Because my writing filofax is A5 so I wanted to have the freedom to take the book around with me for jottings on the go, and the ability to take the pages out and file them in the filofax.

That of course, led me to want a Clairefontaine notebook that I wasn’t going to be precious about!

Anyway, the two kinds of notebook I ordered were the Clairefontaine A5 cloth bound exercise book, and two Clairefontaine 1951 Vintage-style exercise A5 books. Today I will review the cloth bound exercise book. (The vintage-style books will be reviewed soon.)

Front and back covers:
The cover is made of stiff card with a glossy finish. I bought the purple, but there are a variety of colours to choose from. On the front cover, at the bottom right, there is the logo with Clairefontaine written beneath it. The pattern on the cover reminds me of when our digital TV receiver has a hissy fit and pixelates everything, but as this is a notebook which will ultimately be ripped apart, I don’t mind that I don’t really like it.
The back cover has the logo and Clairefontaine in the middle and then the bar-code and a small description at the bottom.

Front cover

back cover
The binding:
The binding is, as it says, cloth, with the pages glued in. I’m sure people who know more about binding would be able to tell me the proper phrase, but that’s the best I can describe it. The pages are glued in, in a block, not in sets of pages. They are glued in pretty tightly and there would be no chance of pages becoming detached by accident. I have torn one page out and it didn’t tear cleanly (but maybe as more pages are removed this will be easier?)

The paper:
Clairefontaine describe their paper as the best in the world and I would have to say they are not boasting undeservedly. The paper in the exercise book is 90g/m2 but I’m sure most of us would know that it isn’t just the weight of the paper that counts, but the finish. The same weight paper can behave very differently with fountain pens (um – see above pictures!).
The paper is white with a wide margin on the left of 3.75cm. For me (who is going to be taking the pages out) this will work well in the filofax for the RHS page, but when I turn over, the wide margin could be a pain. Although the book was described as A5, it is actually larger than A5 at 16.5cm x 21 cm.
There are 96 sheets/192 pages in the book but as usual, the front two pages are hard to remove. The first one (which is plain white on both sides) can’t be easily removed as it is stuck to the cover; the second page (the first lined page) is stuck to the plain page. It is the same for the final two pages of the book, so really, there are 94 removable pages.
The corners of the pages are squared off rather than rounded.

Open. Not much flattability.
Line spacing:
From the top edge of the paper to the first line is 12mm. Then the lines are 8mm apart, with the bottom line being 14mm away from the edge of the paper. There are 24 lines on the page. The margin is in red and the line colour is a purple-grey and feint.

Limited. I’m sure that with some vigorous bending and persuading it could lie flat, but it doesn’t at the moment.

Fountain Pen Test:
The paper is gloriously smooth to write on and even my wettest ink/nib combinations worked fabulously with no discernable feathering or bleed through. The toughest combination I use is the italic Parker vector with an italic nib and Waterman’s ink, but this was a dream to write with on this paper.

No discernable feathering...
No bleed-through
I love the paper. I’m less enamoured of the very wide margin, I would have preferred it to be A5 (not wider) and I would also prefer to be able to tear out the pages more easily, but on the whole, this is a great, fountain-pen friendly notebook at a decent price.

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