I use a pair of A5 notebooks for my personal journal and my meeting notes. I like this set up, and it allows me to carry my important professional and personal journal books with me (when I used to carry things, now I just move them from room to room in my house). For the last year, I have used a pair of Stalogy 1/2 year 365 notebooks for both talks. They have worked pretty well. I like the Stalogy notebook. It is not too thick and the paper is excellent. They are well made, durable but flexible, and I like the dating system. You can see my earlier review of the Stalogy books above.
I have not tried that many notebooks and so I am going to work my way through a sample set, including the MD Midori A5, the Rhodia, and the Nanami Seven Seas notebook. First up is the Apica.
The Apica is a very nice Japanese notebook. It comes with a cellophane cover and a binder cuff. The description explains the paper is “silky” and the recommend using a ballpoint pen given the paper quality. I mainly use a fountain pen but test the paper with a variety of writing instruments. The paper is very smooth, and has a silky, slick feel. It is thicker than Tomoe but on par with Stalogy and other similar products. It does not feel heavy, but durable is the word I would use. The slick feel helps the pens flow across the page well. The paper also has a slight sheen to it. Because of the slick feel I had to be deliberate and slow down so that the pen did not get away from me.
As you can see (hopefully, but my photo skills are not improving rapidly sadly) the paper has a nice 5mm grid. The fountain pen, as expected, has a slow absorption time. The 1, 5 and 10 second drying test all left smears , so if you use fountain pens you will need to use a blotter or build in time to dry. My Zig Cocoira pen did very nicely, despite the fact that the paper has a slick feel to it. The Sharpie test was fine, and the slight coating/thickness of the paper helped prevent much spread/blotting from the pen.
The Sharpie did bleed through quite a bit, including a few blots onto the second page. That is not unusual for notebooks, however, and since I don’t regularly use a Sharpie in my notebooks not a deal breaker. There is no bleed through from the Zig or fountain pen. The paper holds up nicely under normal use and won’t bunch up or crinkle.
Also, while the notebook says it lays flat it is not quite there. The binding is solid (stitched and glued) and in small blocks of paper so once creased or weighted, it will lay close to flat. In this photo you can see the sheen.
So, the plus side for these notebooks: A nice, classic look, well made and very nice, smooth paper. at $13-14 per notebook, it is not cheap but you get 96 sheets of paper, so compared with other notebooks (e.g., Stalogy 1/2 year at 100) pages the costs are comparable.
The downside: The cover is a tad old fashioned so that may not be for you. It is not quick drying for fountain pens, but for a notebook it is average.
I like the product but it is probably a bit too thick for my paired set up. That being said, I am interested in trying other Apica paper and as a day book, bullet journal or self-driven planner would be a very nice choice.
I purchased the Apica Notebook from Jetpens with my own money and was not paid or provided with any perks for this review.