When I shifted to full fountain pen use in 2008, I didn't realize that the major challenge I would have to face was to find suitable paper types for my pens and their inks. My lack of knowledge then about the proper pen, ink, and paper combinations brought home stacks of useless pads and notebooks. Since then, I have found notebooks that are friendlier to my fountain pens, but when Taiwan-based company TWSBI announced that they are coming up with a line of notebooks tailored for fountain use, I was curious. When Scribe Writing Essentials, the local distributor of TWSBI products in the Philippines, sent me a medium lined TWSBI notebook to review, I was thrilled.
TWSBI promotes their notebooks as "universal to all types of writing/drawing instruments, however, specially tailored for fountain pens." Their notebooks have soft and textured but shiny covers made of fine polyurethane (PU). TWSBI made sure their notebooks are easily identified in the crowd, with the company's logo heat-pressed neatly onto the PU in the front cover.
The logo is again heat-pressed on the bottom of the back cover, but includes their acronym, TWSBI.
A black elastic strap holds the cover and notebook pages together, but it's a bit loose. I wish TWSBI used a stronger and wider strap for their medium and large notebooks.
In the photo below, the TWSBI notebook (on top) has the thinnest elastic strap although it's the thickest. The notebooks below the TWSBI are: Quo Vadis Habana, Moleskine, and Rhodia Webbie.
Despite the thin elastic strap, the red page ribbon marker adds vibrance to this black notebook. It's also a nice, thoughtful touch of TWSBI to have the end of the ribbon glued to prevent fraying. Most new notebooks come with loose ribbon ends and I usually just tie them into small knots to avoid early fraying.
The makers of these notebooks paid a lot of attention to detail: the notebooks have round page corners! I've always preferred round corners in my notebooks. I don't like pointed corners because they are sharp and dig into my palms when I write, and they also fray easily.
The pages of the TWSBI notebooks are sewn, to ensure more page security and flexibility. Sewn binding is so much better than most punch and bind methods because the pages are more secure and they also look tidier.
The soft PU cover is flexible and the spine easily folds when the notebook is open.
See? No bulges, no bumps, no big creases to get in the way of the inside pages while the notebook is open.
Again, I am not sure about the paper type used in TWSBI's notebooks, but they are certainly excellent for fountain pen use. It's a brilliant move of TWSBI to use a faint gray ruling in the notebooks' pages, instead of black, or blue.
And unlike most notebooks with continuous line ruling, TWSBI used faint dotted lines, which is just fine. The faint gray lines are perfect for writing, but they do not get in the way of it at all.
I was really excited to try this notebook's paper and filled a page with different pen and ink combinations. I also included in the test page some of my remaining gel pens and rollerball pens. True enough to their claim, TWSBI's notebooks are perfectly suited to fountain pen use. Most of my pens have stub, medium, broad, and italic nibs that bleed ink on most paper types. But the paper in this notebook behaved so much better than I expected, and I was so amazed to see clean lines — no excessive feathering, and not a trace of bleeding. There is some see-through though, but again, that's fine because writing on both sides of the page is still possible.
The back side of my pen and ink test page did not show any bleeding at all.
I was not able to do a test for different ink's dry times, but I did not have any problems with drying ink when I did the pen and ink tests. Below are samples of the inks I used and there is no significant feathering and no bleeding at all. From top: Diamine Royal Blue (TWSBI 540 medium nib), Pelikan Edelstein Jade (Pelikan M205 medium nib), Diamine Red Dragon (Pelikan M400 medium nib), and Noodler's Air Corp Blue Black (Lamy Safari 1.1 italic nib).
To get these notebooks from TWSBI, visit: http://www.twsbi.com/category.php?id_category=9.
In the Philippines, these wonderful notebooks are available at Scribe Writing Essentials together with TWSBI fountain pens and ink bottles, with the following prices:
- Small: PhP 495
- Medium: PhP 675
- Large: PhP 845