Monday, October 19, 2020

Notebook Review: Maruman Mnemosyne N196A Notepad

Do you know what makes fountain pen users happy? Fountain pens, of course. But do you know what makes fountain pen users happier? Excellent, good-quality fountain pen friendly paper. Paper products come in different types and sizes, and not all are suitable for fountain pen writing. Aside from paper quality, I also consider the size, durability, and availability of a paper product. While most of my notebooks and pads are in A5 size, I'm also using a B6 notebook and notepad from Maruman's Mnemosyne line. I like these B6 notebooks because they are portable and so easy to stash inside my backpack, use for notetaking, and create lists.  

The Mnemosyne range of products is simple, functional, and excellent notebooks from Japan's Maruman Corporation. These notebooks with ultra-smooth paper are all manufactured in Japan using Maruman's original paper. Named after the Greek goddess of memory, Maruman's Mnemosyne has four characteristics: paper (uses original and exclusive Maruman Paper Series for Notebooks), design (simple design, yet very unique), variety (available in a variety of sizes and paper styles), and quality (proudly made in Japan under thorough quality management). I have a couple of Maruman paper products to test, and I chose the N196A B6 Notepad for my first Mnemosyne product review. I like this portable, top-bound spiral notepad that reminds me of steno notebooks.

Maruman created Mnemosyne with a simple design. The sleek black cover is quietly accentuated with the gold Mnemosyne logo.

The Mnemosyne N196A has the following specifications and features:

  • Size: B6 | 5 in x 7.5 in 
  • Cover material: plastic (front) and thick board (back)
  • Binding: top-bound; coated twin ring (black)
  • Number of pages: 100 | 50 sheets
  • Paper weight: 80 gsm
  • Paper type: Maruman Paper Series for Notebooks (MPS-N)
  • Page style: ruled/lined; 7 mm
  • Page features: perforation; date and title boxes on top of each page
  • Other features: environmentally friendly premium paper engineered for smooth writing, acid-free, and works well with fountain pens

Mnemosyne 196 Notepad is top-bound, and the spiral binding is a sturdy coated twin ring that won't snag or easily get deformed. 
The covers and pages of this notebook are cut into semi-rounded corners, which is a nice feature. Sharp page corners fray easily and sometimes cut into palms or hands as one writes. Pulling out the notebook from a bag is also easier.
I like this thick back cover because it's sturdy and gives the notebook stability. I could also use it as a writing surface if needed.
The 196 Notepad's black plastic cover opens to a bright, happy, yellow inside cover page. It is blank, except for the Mnemosyne logo at the bottom. It's a perfect page for some ink art. 

Mnemosyne uses the special Maruman Paper Series for Notebooks (MPS-N) which is engineered for a smooth writing experience. This Maruman-original paper is highly suitable for comfortable writing with different writing instruments such as fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and pencils. MPS-N is acid-free and environmentally friendly as it is made from planted (farmed, I guess) trees. The MPS writing paper is available in different weights—60 gsm, 70 gsm, 80 gsm, and 90 gsm. The MPS-N paper used in Mnemosyne 196 is 80 gsm, which is of higher quality and guarantees no ink bleeding. There is also the MPS-D which is MPS for drawing paper, MPS-W for watercolor, and MPS-C for Croquis, mainly for pencils and sketching.

The Mnemosyne 196 Notepad's pages are ruled/lined in the popular 7 mm spacing. Each page contains  21 lines with each seventh line printed in a thicker weight, dividing the page into three sections. Maruman says that this design makes it easy to organize information. Some people are bothered by this style, but I just fill the page and hardly notice the thick lines—or the page divisions. 

The pages of this Mnemosyne notepad has the popular 7 mm spacing. There are 21 lines on each page, with each seventh line printed in a thicker weight, dividing the page into three sections for easy organization.
At the top of each page are boxes for the date, number of entries, and the title of the entry.
Unlike most notebooks with continuous line ruling, Maruman used dotted lines. The faint gray lines are perfect for writing and notetaking.
The pages in the Mnemosyne notepad are perforated, so it's easy to just tear a page off.

Maruman's MPS-N paper is ultra-smooth and has excellent quality for writing. To test the MPS-N paper, I used various combinations of fountain pens and inks, gel pens, ballpoint, and a Sharpie. My fountain pen nib preference has always been B (broad), and most of the pens I tested have either a broad or stub nib. In the pen and ink tests below, I noticed that most of the fountain pens did not bleed or feather, except for three pens with minor bleeding—two with very wet nibs, and one with a sharp italic nib. I'm still very happy with this notebook's paper despite this minor flaw. I'm glad I saw it so I can avoid using the particular pen and ink combination in this notebook. The paper is also great with the other pens I tested, and the Pilot G2 1.0 just glided smoothly as I wrote. If I were not a fountain pen user, the Mnemosyne + Pilot G2 1.0 will be my perfect paper and pen combo! Now I understand why so many people prefer using Mnemosyne notebooks—the paper is just excellent! 

Pen and ink tests on the Mnemosyne's MPS-N paper. No feathering, just a bit of bleeding, but ultra-smooth paper is perfect for any pen type!
I wrote a full-page using a TWSBI 530 with a medium nib filled with Iroshizuku Asa-gao. The writing experience is extraordinary! The pen just glided on paper while I wrote.
Mnemosyne notepad, fountain pen, blue ink. Lovely, useful combination.

The Mnemosyne 196 B6 is an excellent notepad/notebook that is well-built for writing. The front and back covers are strong and thick enough to protect the pages inside and be a writing surface if needed. This notepad is portable and can easily fit into backpacks, computer bags, or handbags. The 80 gsm MPS-N paper is excellent for writing, and it's fountain pen friendly. Get one for your pens!

Learn more about Mnemosyne notebooks from the Maruman website or follow them on social media:

My deepest gratitude to Maruman USA for sending the Mnemosyne N196A B6 Notepad in this review.

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