Monday, 26 May 2014

Review of the Midori MD A5 lined notebook

Two reviews in two days... At this rate, I might actually review all my new notebooks before buying some more...
[ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha... who are you trying to kid ???????]

Anyway, today it is the turn of the Midori MD A5 lined notebook, bought in The Journal Shop’s 20% off everything sale. Again, no affiliation, just a happy customer. As ever, click on any picture for a bigger version.

I bought the Midori MD notebook because I was intrigued. I haven’t got a Midori Traveller Notebook but I have heard good things about the paper and it is the same paper used in these notebooks.

It’s a good notebook. The paper is fabulous. I’m not convinced by the bold line across the middle. There are 176 non-numbered pages. The notebook is 149mm x 210mm.

Front cover


The notebook had a slip-cover of what feels like waxy tissue paper. I’m sure it has a proper name (tell me what it is in the comments if you know it!). Around the outside of that was a label, which was all in Japanese, so I can’t tell you what it says.

Back cover (still in the plastic wrapper)
Waxy tissue paper slip cover

Once you remove the slip cover and loose label, you see the cover of the notebook. It is made of thick cream card, with a small “MD paper Made in Japan” logo embossed in the middle of the RHS. The binding is hard to describe – it looks like an open-weave bandage that has been firmly glued to the spine. Again, this probably has a proper name and again, tell me in the comments what it is if you know it! The pages are bound with thread-stitching.

Front cover with slip-cover tissue paper reflected back

There is no pocket in the back – this is a basic notebook.

The first page has a space for putting something – title, picture, whatever. Underneath the space is MD Notebook Made in Japan and the Midori logo. Inevitably, this page is glued to the next (the next being the first lined page of the book) so that the next page doesn’t open out fully. There were two labels (and a blank one) – ‘idea’ and ‘diary’ though I am not sure where they are supposed to go – they are too big for the box-space on the first page and I think the spine is too rough for them.

First page

The pages have 27 lines with a line-spacing of 7mm, a top margin of 16mm, a bottom margin of 12mm and an inner margin where the lines don’t reach the spine of 2mm. The 14th line down (in the centre of the page) is bold.
I do not know why. Nor do I much care for it. It remains to be seen how much this will piss me off when I use the notebook, but at first glance it’s annoyed me.
The page edges are all squared and extremely smooth-feeling.

Bold central line.

The paper is lovely to write on. Forgive the crumpled look to the pages – I didn’t extract them from the book very well (I was worrying more about the book than the removed pages to be honest!). The book also lies as flat as a bat! The open-weave bandage/thread-stitching binding works a treat! There is a page marker of narrow, dark green ribbon.

Fountain Pen Tests:
The paper was glorious to write on (as you might anticipate, it being Midori and all that). No feathering, nice crisp lines, smooth and not too ‘grabby’ but one of my inks took a while to dry as a consequence of the surface of the paper, so lefties may want to just test out their pen/ink combos.

Fountain pen tests - no feathering...

Almost no bleed-through. When I first did the test I thought there was none at all, but there is a smidgen. It’s better than the Leuchtturm books but still not as good as the Clairefontaine Age Bags (what is??). bleed-through

Hmm. Only 3 ½ (out of 5). The paper is delightful to write on, but they are more expensive than my go-to Clairefontaine A5 Age Bag notebooks (about twice the price) and without many more bells and whistles. And that bold line is more irritating than I thought it would be (though it might grow on me).

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Review of the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks

New Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks
I have SO many reviews owing. Let me begin to make amends and review the Leuchtturm 1917 for a start – I bought two of them in The Paperie’s 3 for 2 sale (the 3rd book was the Paper Thinks notebook, reviewed here). No affiliation - just a happy customer.

The Leuchtturm notebooks are nicely designed books in my opinion. They have hardback covers (in a series of bright, cheery colours), with ivory/cream paper, numbered pages, a table of contents at the front, detachable pages at the back, an expandable pocket in the back, matching ribbon marker and a vertical elastic closure. The paper is lovely to write on. Notebook size is 208mm x 147mm. There are 249 numbered pages.

The Cover:

I bought two – an emerald green cover and a berry red one. I have only opened the berry red (I assume that the innards of the emerald green one will not differ significantly!). The colours are vibrant and intense and a welcome cheer on a rainy May weekend up here in Scotland!

Back cover

The cover is PVU with a leather-effect and no plasticky smell, thankfully. There is no branding on the front or on the spine, and just ‘Leuchtturm1917’ embossed on the back. The cover is rigid.
As a comparison with other notebooks/my filofax, here is the emerald green next to a Sea Green Cartesio notebook...

Leuchtturm on the left, Sea Green Cartesio on the right

... and the berry red next to my pink Baroque filofax...

The first page has a space for name and address. Personally, I would prefer just to have the lines and no instructions over what should go there, as I don’t put either my name or my address in most of my notebooks as they never leave my house.

Name/address page; booklet on the left
 There was a small card saying ‘thank you for buying this product’ inside and a leaflet about the notebook and the history of Leuchtturm. There was also a set of stickers for labelling the books (though personally, I have never used these and think they would detract from the exterior of the notebook. I might use one on the inside).


After the name/address page is a blank fly-sheet, then there are three pages of index.

First index page
Then a double spread of them

This is followed by a blank side (the reverse of the last index page) then the main notebook.
At the top of every page is “Datum/Date:” and at the foot of every page on the outer corner, is the page number. I like this, as I always number my notebooks and I always produce a list of contents at the start of the book, so for me, this detailing is a bonus. I’m not so convinced about having the date at the top of every page – that might grow on me!

The paper is ivory/cream, with a line-spacing of 6mm. The lining is feint (very light, actually – I like how subtle it is!). The lines go edge to edge of the paper and there is a top margin of 12mm and a bottom margin of 7mm. The outer corners are rounded.

The last few pages of the notebook are perforated so you can remove them (I removed the last page to test how easy this is and also to do the fountain pen tests). Initially, the idea of the last few pages being removable hadn’t appealed, but in fact, these are very subtly perforated so it isn’t obvious that they are, nor would it be easy to accidentally remove them, so if you didn’t want to take out sheets, the book would stay intact. The perforations are incredibly fine and the paper came out okay (though it was a bit of a tug to get it started).

The back, expandable pocket covers the entire back cover and is pretty gusseted – you could cram a lot in here if you wanted to spoil the look of your notebook!!

Pocket in the back. (the white thing on the RHS is the book label)

The ribbon marker is a good match to the cover and to the elastic closure (yes, we all know how picky I am about these things!). It is a relief that this all matches so well on a notebook whose strap-line is “Details make all the difference”!

I personally prefer a horizontal elastic closure so that I can tuck a pen in to it, but if you wanted to carry a pen, Leuchtturm do matching adhesive pen-holders and you could stick one to the cover very easily.

Fountain Pen Tests:
Again, I don’t have as many inked up as normal. I used three italic-nibbed pens (by far my favourite pens to use) plus one standard nib plus a couple of Pilot V5 pens.
The paper was a little bit ‘grabby’ on the italic pens and made them feel a little scratchy, but the non-italic nib flowed smoothly over the page and it was a dream to write on with it. The two Pilot pens were okay (but not my favourite to write with anyway). There was no feathering and ink dried quickly, so lefties would be absolutely fine (assuming my inks are representative).

Crisp - no feathering

Hmm. A little disappointing considering they go on about ‘ink-proof’ paper. I could read everything on the other side of the page very easily. I’m not sure if I would want to use fountain pen in the books as a consequence. Maybe. I was expecting better though.

This is looking better than the reality...

Gorgeous colour cover and well thought out interior. Good little notebook and one I am sure that I will use for book-plotting/writing. It’s just a shame that there was so much bleed-through with my fountain pens and that the page is a bit grabby on italic nibs.

I would award it **** (out of 5)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

More stationery goodies!!!

Having succumbed to the three for two notebooks at The Paperie, I then succumbed to the 20% off everything sale at The Journal Shop.

What arrived today:
  • Midori MD Notebook (A5, ruled)
  • Large red Moleskine softback notebook (ruled)

Reviews soon!!

Friday, 16 May 2014

New notebooks

New notebooks!! Hurrah!
I know. I need more notebooks like I need another pair of legs or something. But hey. The Paperie were doing 3 for 2 and I just can’t resist. I’ve tried. I really have. But it only lasts about a second and then, somehow, there are three notebooks in my basket and there we go.
(No affiliation, just a happy customer)

Anyway, sorry for the long silences but a) work got busy, b) writing got REALLY busy and c) I went to Malawi again.

But now I’m back and buying more stationery! (Plus ├ža change!)

What did I get??

Well, the A5 notebook that I am currently writing book #6 in (Ciak, red A5) is suiting me as a size just brilliantly, so I decided I could try out a couple more. I’ve never tried the Leuchtturm 1917 before, so I popped a couple of those in bright colours (berry red and emerald green) in the basket and I had never seen the notebooks by ‘Paper Thinks’ before so I popped in one of them (in blue mist colour).

Paper Thinks first; Leuchtturm another day...

The Paper Thinks notebook isn’t a true A5 – it is a little smaller at 13cm x 17cm. The cover is apparently recycled leather (and there is indeed a leather smell to it if you hold it right up to your nose!). The outside is much glossier than leather normally is (though isn’t patent leather). The cover is fairly stiff so you would be able to write in it with the book on your knee etc.
There is very little branding – the front cover is entirely blank; there is Paper Thinks on the spine in a darker blue than the cover and ‘recycled leather’ embossed in the back. The notebook says that it was made in China.

Front cover (still wrapped)
Back cover (still wrapped)
Front cover (unwrapped and now inside as it got really windy!)
Branding on the spine

On the inside left cover there is the Paper Thinks logo and web address, and on the RHS there is space for name, phone and ‘in case of emergency’.


The paper is ivory/cream; the lines do not go edge to edge, but stop 6mm from the outer edge and 8mm from the inner edge. Top margin is 12mm; bottom margin is 8mm; line-spacing is 6mm. There is no elastic closure (either vertical or horizontal) but there is a matching ribbon place-marker. There are 256 pages.
The pages are sewn in and this should make the book lie flat, but it doesn’t (as evidenced by the paper-weights!). With a bit of bending and flexing it’s not bad though.

Back cover:
The back cover has a gusseted envelope/pocket (easiest way to photograph it was to put the paper-weight inside it!) with the gusset made of matching fabric.

Back gusseted envelope/pocket

Fountain pen test:
Hmm. For once, I don’t have many pens inked up! But, I had four and a Sharpie, and here are the results:
The paper is pretty smooth to write on and there was very little feathering.

Fountain pen test
Little feathering
Slightly more feathering with the pink

However, the bleed-through was an EPIC FAIL!
Read it and weep.


Which is such a shame as otherwise it was a lovely little notebook, but it is now one which will at best be a ‘scribble’ book or a ‘biro only’ one.

It’s a nice size. Not quite a true A5 but a reasonable size and aspect ratio combination to be honest. At the 3 for 2 offer, I got all three (the two Leuchtturm and this) for £25.49, making each book £8.50. Expensive enough to be nice; cheap enough (at this price) not to be too precious over it! It’s just a shame that the bleed-through was so awful.

I award it *** overall