I like to look for the next best thing. I have never used the same planner two years in a row, and am constantly looking at new notebooks, pens, gear to find a better set up. What am I missing? Maybe there is something right around the corner that would be even better than what I have. It goes with my general “more gear is better” approach. So as I have launched this blog effort, I have wanted to try new set ups and gear and share my impressions.
For me, paper is a big part of the puzzle – the right notebook feel, quality, features, and look can go a long way in my mind. And Japanese paper is my preferred product. So I was very excited to buy and try the Kleid Notebook (purchased from Vanness Pens with my own funds.) I have been very happy with my Nanami Seven Seas notebook (to be reviewed later) and the quality of the paper in my Hobonichi Mega Weeks planner for 2020.
I purchased three notebooks. The first is the 100 page A5 Kleid Life Noble Note with a blue cover and a white paper and the second was smaller A5 32-sheet notebook in Red with cream paper the third as a horizontal notebook, A% that matched the 32-page red cover notebook reviewed here. All come with a 2mm tight grid pattern that I really was interested in and found very attractive.
The notebook covers are nicely made, heavy stock. They are stitched, not stapled. The printing on the covers is clean and attractive, and the 100 page notebook has a nice heavy feel and comes with a plastic sleeve (not pictured). The white and cream colors are nice looking and I do really like the small grid. It is not too heavy so you can ignore it, but can use it as a guide for writing, bullet journal graphic elements, etc.
The 100-page Life Note has a nice heavy feel. It would fit well into a leather cover but can stand on its own. The 32-page versions are nice looking and would serve well for dump books, taking notes, specific project trackers, etc.
Overall, however, I have some issues with the paper and some of the design elements.
On the Kleid Life Noble Notebook – issue number one is that it does not lay flat and there are some funky construction elements. There are two blue card stock inserts that throw off the paper flow and the sections of the notebook stand up, create gaps and interfere with the clean lines of the notebook. You can see from the photo below it is stitched in sections, and that creates some issues for the notebook when laid down on a surface. It does fold over nicely it you need to write on the go.
The paper is thicker than I expected, which explains the heft of the overall feel. It has a slight sheen to it as well and I was worried it would not soak up ink quickly or well. However, I was surprised that it did dry reasonably quickly for both fountain pens gel ink. Gel ink in fact was slower than FP ink. There is a little bleed, more noticeably with the Sharpies (no surprise). And overall, the paper performed well. It is stiffer and thicker than the Tomoe River paper which is my gold standard, but the paper will also not crumple as much as Tomoe which may be plus for some.
The 32-page notebook uses a different paper, described as Okfools paper. It is cream colored, not white and has the same tight 2mm blue grid. The paper is the same thickness as the Life Notebook. But there is one big difference. The grid on the paper repels fountain pen ink and prevents it from soaking into the paper. This is, shall we say, less than ideal. I fund no similar problems with gel or ballpoint ink, but it is clearly an issue for fountain pen users.
For me, as a heavy fountain pen user this is a deal breaker. I am sure I can find some uses for the notebooks, but as for being my daily use books, the paper absorption issue is a big one. Which is too bad because I like the look and feel of the notebook, the paper and the grid pattern overall.
So, overall – these are nice, decent quality notebooks. I like the look and feel, but they have some functionality issues that are hard for me to overcome, but may not be an issue if you do not use fountain pens. Also, the costs are not bad for a Japanese higher quality product. But in the end, the paper has to be what I like, and the feel and function have to – shall we say – spark joy? I am sorry these did not quite make the cut for me, and so the search goes on.