Sunday, 22 September 2013

Review of Grandluxe notebooks (3): monologue ruled notebook

[warning: long post with quite a few pictures. Click on any picture to enlarge]

I have already reviewed two of the types of notebook that I was sent by Grandluxe to review. The review of the Monologue Platinum notebooks can be found here and the review of the Monologue Jotter can be found here.

Today is the turn of the Monologue ruled notebook, of which I was sent 8! I received 2x “A5” (14.5 cm x 21.2 cm), 2x “A6” (9.6 cm x 14.5 cm), 2x “A7” (7.8 cm x 11.1 cm) and 2x “A8” (5.3 cm x 7.8 cm). On the assumption that the interiors are the same, I have only opened the black A5 as this is the colour and size that appealed to me the most. The colours of the other sizes are great, but I am not sure about the sizes.
Available sizes and their recommended retail price: A5 (£7.99), A6 (4.99), A7 (£3.99) and A8 (£2.99)
Colours: black, brown, green, orange, pink, purple, red and yellow

Yellow (front)
Yellow (back)
Black, unwrapped (front)
Black, unwrapped (back)
The two A6 size (orange, purple)
Top: A7 brown, pink
Bottom: A8 green, red
First impressions:
The cover is described in the catalogue as “tactile feel PU cover with round corners”. It has quite a high friction/grippy feel to it – it wouldn’t slip out of your hand – and feels warm to the touch. It’s very pleasant as a cover. There is a strong vertical elastic closure in a matching colour to the cover (solid black to match what I would describe as soft black in the one I opened; you can see in the pictures the colours of the others). There is also a ribbon marker in a complementary colour (charcoal grey in the black notebook).

As described, it is warm and pleasant to the touch. The front is completely plain; the back has ‘monologue’ incised in, like the other products in the range. It’s a pleasant sans serif font. The other colours are generally very attractive: the red is a dark red – red wine I suppose (she says, trying to avoid using ‘dry blood’ as a reference!). The green is very hard to describe – quite light with sage aspects but also some yellow to it. The pink is gorgeous – not too bright or bubble-gum coloured – a very good fuchsia colour. The brown is a good tobacco/leather colour (interestingly, as well as monologue incised in the back, it also has; none of the others do). The orange is bright and zingy and the same colour as the orange Jotter I reviewed. The purple is wonderful, especially with the slightly contrasting elastic closure). The only colour I was not so keen on was the yellow, which is quite a mustard/ochre yellow – a bit too orange and a bit too brown for my liking.

The cover is quite stiff to open. It’s lined with cream paper which makes a fly leaf, to which the first page is glued (though not as extensively as in other books). As in the other notebooks from Grandluxe, the top and bottom lines of the page are heavier and the lines don’t extend edge to edge on the page (inner margin 12 mm; outer 6.5 mm). Line-spacing is 7 mm. The page is cream (described as 80gsm, cream, acid-free paper. Interestingly, the paper in the Jotter was also described as wood-free too, which this isn’t).
The pages aren’t numbered or have any other markings other than the lines. The top margin is 21.5 mm and there are 25 line spaces on the page. There are 96 leaves (192 pages).
It doesn't lie flat very well, though once you get to the middle of the book, it is much better.
In the back cover, there is a pocket which is the same as in the Jotter – made of thick cream paper and the gusseted sides made with paper/ribbon-like material.

Fountain-pen tests:
I’m beginning to believe that fountain-pen users are not the target market for the Grandluxe notebooks as so far, the paper has failed miserably to cope with any of my fountain-pens (and indeed, has at time struggled with even a roller-ball). These notebooks were no different. As before, I removed one leaf from the book to do the tests. To show you a comparison with paper that is acceptable (but not great) for fountain pens, there are also pictures of the same pens on Basildon Bond writing paper, which I would say is thinner paper than that of the notebook. Below are a series of pictures and close-ups to help you compare.

Monologue notebook on left; Basildon Bond paper on right
Monologue notebook
Basildon Bond paper
Close-up (Monologue notebook)
Basildon bond close-up
Monologue notebook
Basildon Bond
Monologue notebook
Basildon Bond
Monologue notebook
Basildon Bond
Holding the nib against the paper for 5 seconds - Monologue
Holding the nib against the paper for 5 seconds - Basildon Bond
Reverse - Basildon Bond
Reverse - monologue notebook
The monologue notebook was a fairly epic fail with anything other than a biro. It sucked up ink like blotting paper, feathered badly as a consequence and the bleed-through to the other side makes the other side utterly unusable.
The inability of the books to cope with fountain pen is a real shame. They have covers in great colours and would otherwise be a nice addition to the notebook market. But this blotting-paper-like tendency of the paper is shockingly bad. Clairefontaine get it right every time, even in cheap notebooks. I have some A5 school-style exercise books that perform far better than this and cost less than £2 each. Okay, they are card covered and stapled and have no elastic closure or ribbon, but I can write in them, which for me is the primary point of a notebook. At £7.99, I would have hoped that these would perform better.

So, my overall score? Still just 2/5. If I only wrote in biro or pencil, I would perhaps award them 4/5, but the quality of the paper is a major let-down for me.

Details of how to find Grandluxe products:
Monologue on Facebook:

Disclaimer: although I was given these books to review, this has been my honest opinion of the book reviewed. I have not been paid to review the books, nor am I in the employ of Grandluxe.

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