A few days ago I wrote about fountain pens. Well a fountain pen is useless if you have nothing to write on.
This is a bigger deal than you might think. Most commonly available writing pads don't work well with fountain pens. For starters, any paper that's labeled "recycled" is guaranteed to suck. Even expensive pads can suck. I once bought a Mead Cambridge "executive" quality notebook, and I discovered that the fountain pen ink feathered on the paper. What a waste of $5 that was!
Up until my most recent purchase, I have had the best luck with the Ampad Gold Fibre brand. They worked well with fountain pens and come in a variety of styles and sizes, and you can buy them at any office supply store. Even Duane Reed carries them. (As I explain below, the quality has slipped.)
There is a whole level of notebooks above the Ampad Gold Fibre. The most popular of these premium notebooks is Moleskine. There's an article about them in the Washington Post. A 5 1/4 x 8 1/4" notebook with 120 sheets of paper sells for $18. And it's not even clear that they work so well with fountain pens. I have read mixed reports on the web.
The thing that turns me off to Moleskine, besides the price, is the riculous marketing. Moleskine proclaims itself "the legendary notebook of Van Gogh, Chatwin, Hemingway, Matisse and Céline." If you think that you're going to become the next Van Gogh or Hemingway because you write on an $18 notebook, then I also have a bridge to sell you.
I desired a small notebook similar in size to the $18 Moleskine, but more practical and affordable. For example, I like spiral binding. It's very practical, and you can tear out a sheet if you need to. So without further ado, here is my comparison of an Ampad Gold Fibre Notebook with a Rhodia Advanced Notepad.
Ampad Gold Fibre Notebook on left and Rhodia Advanced Notepad on right with Pelikan 200 series fountain pen.
The pads are opened up. The Waterman Green ink clashes with the green and cyan color scheme of the Ampad, but beautifully compliments the orange and purple color scheme of the Rhodia. What's written on the pages? On the Ampad are the calculations used for this comparsion. On the Rhodia is a blog post about fitness clubs. Too bad there's no way to transfer the blog post to the blog without having to manually type it. Maybe a notebook computer would be more useful?
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with the Ampad Gold Fibre 5 x 7" notebook. As I wrote above, in the past I have found this brand to have the best quality paper, but someone at Ampad decided to put an inferior grade of paper into this product. The paper is rougher and thinner than what's in the last 8 1/2 x 11 1/2" notepad I purchased. The ink from my Pelikan M200 fountain pen bleeds through the paper of the 5 x 7" notebook. Someone at Ampad must have said "hey, let's save a few cents and put cheaper paper into the 5 x 7" notebook. The consumer will be too stupid to notice the difference." Well this consumer has noticed the difference, and now I'm telling the whole world.
|Ampad Gold Fibre||Rhodia Advanced|
|Where manufactured||United States||France|
|Where purchased||Staples. Also available just about anywhere notepads are sold.||Art Brown at 46th St between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. Good luck finding these at a regular store.|
|Official size||5 x 7" (too small)||
148 x 210mm
|Measured size (exludes area on the spiral side of the perforation where you can't write)||7 x 4 1/4"||5 7/8 x 7 1/2"|
|Total area of paper in pad||26.86 sq ft||24.47 sq ft|
|Price per sheet||2.7 cents||6.3 cents|
|Price per square foot of paper||13 cents||20.4 cents|
|Number of spirals||13||17 (the more the better)|
|Rules||Cyan colored. Fuzzy. Too wide||Purple. Sharp. Perfect line width.|
|Paper quality||Extremely disappointing compared to what I was expecting based on my previous experiences with this brand.||Excellent, best quality paper I've ever encountered in a spiral notepad.|
|Cover and backing||Cheap cardstock, only semi rigid back||Expensive and durable plastic-like, and thicker cardboard backing|
|Appearance||OK looking||Distinctive orange color tells people in the know that you're using a premium notepad imported from France.|
|Conclusion||This is probably the best quality you're going to get in this sized notebook at most stores, but it's barely acceptable. The price is far too high considering that the full sized 8 1/2 x 11 1/2" writing pad is the same price and has better quality paper (although the smaller pad does have more sheets).||Definitely worth the extra money. Every aspect of this pad is superior to the Ampad Gold Fibre. Now, if only I could find a store that carried the complete line of Rhodia products.|