Forever in search of the perfect (paper) notebook
January 25, 2014 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I've tried many notebooks, but have yet to find the absolute perfect one. Requirements: graph, A5, ring bound, quality paper.

I've seen this previous question, but my criteria are slightly different.

- A5 sized.
- Graph ruled. I could maybe do narrow lined (6-5mm) if the notebook were basically perfect otherwise.
- Ring bound on the side (not the top), should be sturdy.
- Quality paper. I use gel ink pens so bleed through is not an enormous concern, but the paper should be smooth and pleasant to write on.

- Plain-ish cover
- Perforated pages
- Printed ruling on both sides of the page
- No gigantic title section at the top of every page
- Flexible cover/backing
- Faint/non-distracting printed lines

The closest I have come to my notebook soulmate are Clairefontaine (no perforation, comparatively dark ruling), Whitelines (mediocre paper, though I think I read somewhere that their paper quality is inconsistent so it's possible I just have a bad one), and Rollbahn (hard cover/back; also stupidly expensive). But maybe there's something else out there?
posted by cosmic osmo to Shopping (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Here's your notebook: the Rhodia A5+. It's just over A5 (so the writeable area is A5). Great paper (properly sized European paper), too. Not super cheap. Maybe has slightly dark rulings, but hey, you want vertical rulings in the way, go nuts …

(btw, maybe the reason you couldn't find this is that you're using odd terms. These are squared, spiral-bound notebooks: graph and ring bound mean something else entirely.)
posted by scruss at 3:08 PM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had similar needs (except for being A4) and have been very happy with Rhodia notebooks.
posted by dfan at 4:02 PM on January 25, 2014

I was going to say Rhodia as well. MiquelRuis has some notebooks that just about fit the bill as well. The pages are A5 when removed, rather than counting the bit with the holes for the binding. (Whereas I think the Clairefontaine notebooks are A5 counting the spiral.) They do have a little title box at the top of the page, but I don't find it awful or anything.

Target has been stocking the lined ones, as option for looking at them in person. I have a gridded one I think I got at Utrecht or Blick (which have since merged, anyway) a few years back. However, I do prefer Rhodia.
posted by hoyland at 4:20 PM on January 25, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry, as far as "ring bound" goes, I meant wirebound in rings (vs. spiral bound, or wirebound in a coil). Though if it's sturdy enough I guess spiral bound would be fine.

As far as Rhodia goes, I have a bunch of their stapled notepads but have never seen that a5+ notebook in stores (only the "meeting book" and the "reverse book")...does anyone know a place where I can buy it online? (I poked around for a few minutes, but no luck. Unless I am totally missing something and can order directly from the Rhodia website?)

(scruss: I'd call those a three-ring binder and cross-section or engineering paper. I submit that "ring bound" I probably made up, but I don't know that "graph" as a synonym for grid or squared is that odd of a term: Field Notes, Miquelrius, JetPens, and European Paper all use it too.)
posted by cosmic osmo at 5:23 PM on January 25, 2014

You and I have very similar tastes. I have an A4 version of the notebook scruss recommended as my lab notebook, although it's top bound. It's a spiral, not a coil, but it's quite sturdy – unlike most spiral notebooks, it doesn't feel like it's going to get all squished and bent out of shape. The paper is excellent (it's Clairefontaine paper, so you'll be familiar with the quality there) and the graph lines are a sort of medium orange – not too obtrusive, but very usable.

The ruling is quite narrow, at (I think) five to an inch. The only thing that would make it better for my purposes would be if it were ruled to the half-centimeter instead of the fifth-inch, and if it wasn't perforated (because removing pages from a lab notebook is a no-no). The perforations are good though, I've only had a page come off accidentally once, and I was being very clumsy. It also came off cleanly, rather than in a raggedy mess.

All the pages are fully ruled from edge to edge, with no margins or markings whatsoever. The logo on the front is a bit on the obvious side, but I can forgive that for such an otherwise-perfect writing tool. At least the cover is otherwise plain and utilitarian, and the logo itself is non-ugly. The covers are flexible; if my memory serves me right (I'm not in the lab right now) the top cover is plastic and the bottom cover is a thickish piece of cardboard.

It's a great notebook, I love it to death. I buy Rhodia notebooks pretty much exclusively at this point (I'm a big fan of their dot-grid webnotebooks for general use) and can highly recommend scruss's suggestion. It looks very similar indeed to the notebook that I use, and I think it would suit you very well based on my own experience.
posted by Scientist at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2014

Okina PNA5S might fit most of your criteria. Here's a seller that ships to the US.
posted by CarolynG at 5:48 PM on January 25, 2014

Don't know if they'll have what you're looking for, but check out JetPens. They import lots of cool notebooks from Japan (and pens, of course).
posted by Leontine at 5:57 PM on January 25, 2014

Fabriano EcoQua notebooks come in an A5 sized wire bound, grid format. I don't recall whether the pages are perforated.
posted by jimw at 1:37 AM on January 26, 2014

I like Black n' Red notebooks and it looks like they make an A5 quad-ruled version.
posted by healthytext at 11:35 PM on February 13, 2014

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