Saturday, 7 July 2018

6 for £6 from Nero's Notes

Loving the new logo!
(Another book as well as the 6 for £6 is in this wrapped selection)
6 for £6 (or, as it appears on the website, "six 4 six") does what it says on the tin! For £6 you get a random selection of 6 notebooks. As Stu describes it on the site:
Discount Sales are few and far between at Nero's Notes. We do our best to keep prices fair all the time. This is our lucky dip box. As the name suggests, there will be at least six books for six pounds. That might be two three packs, or it might be six singles or any other combination.

Great value for money, perfect as a stocking filler or just for a little treat. Who knows what extras Nero might throw in...
Despite having more small notebooks than I will possibly ever use in a lifetime, I decided to check this out. After all, I'm not sure that any of the books on the site are only a pound to buy!

As ever, the parcel arrived with everything beautifully wrapped. I love the logo for Nero's Notes on the stickers. In the picture above, there's also a Nero's Notes leather notebook which I'll be reviewing soon.

So, what were the six books that were in the "six 4 six"? Well, either Stu can't count, or Nero sneaked in an extra, because I had seven books! There are no pen tests for any of the notebooks - partly because I haven't had time to do them and partly because the post is more to show you the kind of contents you might get.

The seven books were:
[tl;dr An absolutely brilliant bargain. Now read all of the post!]

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Rosaliny Green World 4 Assorted Softcover B5 Composition Notebooks

I've been on a bit of notebook-buying spree. After renovating an old Filofax Deskfax to create a B5 sized Traveller's Notebook, I (naturally) needed to buy lots of B5 notebooks!

B5 is just about the perfect size for me, I think. I find A5 a little on the small side, but A4 a bit too large sometimes. B5 sits between those two sizes at 176mm x 250mm (c.f. A5 at 148mm x 210mm and A4 at 210mm x 297mm). And of course, it's the perfect size for my renovated Deskfax.

I use my Deskfax as a writing TN - if I'm travelling, it has enough cards and pockets and so on, that I don't really need to have anything else in my bag, and the covers are sturdy enough to lean on if there isn't a table. (You can see what features the writing TN has here.)

In the early stages of writing a book, I use small, slim notebooks to bounce ideas around. Some (most!) of these ideas may never make it to a full book, but I like to keep them anyway. Once I think an idea has enough legs to make it to being a full novel, I need a thicker book (like the Zhi Jin notebook, reviewed here). I quite like the slim books made by Penco or Stalogy but saw some slightly more attractive slim notebooks on Amazon, while I was looking at the Zhi Jin.

The Rosaliny Green World notebooks were £8.99 from Amazon with free delivery and looked like a nice set of notebooks, so I ordered a pack. They took forever to arrive, not helped by the first order getting lost. Once the seller sent a new set, they took about 10 days to get here and there were some very sweet post-it notes in the parcel too (which I forgot to take pictures of and have now given away).

The notebooks have a reasonably sturdy card cover with quite sweet designs of trees/leaves and cats.

Inside, there are 38 pages (76 sides) and they are sewn rather than stapled. 37 (74) of these are lined; the first/last sheet is plain.

On the lined pages, there is space at the top to note the date and also the day of the week. The very top and bottom lines also have small marks on them to facilitate drawing in columns, should you so desire. The spacing of the small marks is a slightly random 10.8mm (which doesn't seem to relate to a sensible fraction of an inch either). Line spacing is 8mm, with a top margin of 15.5mm and a bottom margin of 14.5mm. There are 28 lines (if you're happy enough to use the bottom line; it would be fine - the small marks are unobtrusive).

How well did they stand up to fountain pen? The paper is described as "100gsm acid-free high quality recyclable ivory paper". I'm not sure if they mean "recyclable" (which surely, all paper is?) or "recycled". The paper does feel as if it is 100gsm and is very smooth.

Amazingly, I don't have a zillion fountain pens inked up at the moment, but I tested the paper with what I had, and with a few other pens I had to hand. I used one of the plain pages at the back of the book to test the pages. I don't imagine the lined paper will perform differently.

The results are a bit mixed...
I tried a 1.1mm stub nib and wet ink combo (usually a bit of a killer in pen tests), plus another italic nib, a standard m nib and then some Pilot Hi-tecpoints and a ballpoint.

The good news...
There's no feathering of the fountain pen ink at all and the paper is smooth to write on.
There's no bleed-through of the stub nib or the italic.

The bad news...
There is bleed-through with almost all the other pens except the ballpoint. The Tombow Object nib was the worst; the Hi-tecpoints were a bit better.
There is show-through for everything. Depending on how much that bugs you, this might be the deal-breaker. For me, the pens I use the most are 1.1mm stub nibs, so the fact these worked so well and show-through isn't too dire, means that I'm happy enough to use them, but might not buy them again to be honest.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
Pen tests
reverse, showing bleed- and show-through
zoom in on the reverse
These are sweet little books which will definitely get used for initial notes on books or ideas. As for value for money, compared to the Penco notebooks, you get more pages (74 lined in this c.f. 60 in the Penco) for less money (£2.25 per book here, c.f. The Journal Shop selling Penco at £3.99). But... paper quality is significantly lower than the Penco.

As for comparing to Stalogy, the only UK seller I can find is Tokyo Bike (the listing for the Stalogy is here). They have 68 pages and are £5.50 (I originally got mine from somewhere else and they were £2.50. I wish now I'd bought more!). Again, paper quality on the Stalogy is better, but they are a lot more money per notebook. If you're US based, I think there are more options for purchasing them.

The covers are attractive and sturdy and I like that the pages are sewn rather than stapled. Paper quality lets them down, but at £2.25 each, I shouldn't really complain (I mean, Moleskine get away with charging a lot more money for notebooks and the paper is much worse!). I like the headers with the space for the date (and day), plus the marks to facilitate drawing columns. Line spacing suits me, though those with small writing or a penchant for fine nibs may find it a bit wide.

Overall, I quite like them!