I often wander around Paperchase looking for notebooks that:
- don’t have animals on them, or any sort of cute Japanese-esque design, or are covered with half an inch of frou-frou ornamentation that doubles the price (hello Paperblanks) but which still don’t look embarrassing;
- aren’t lined – I can get lined notebooks anywhere and I don’t want lines;
- open reasonably flat;
- aren’t too expensive.
Near the back of the shop they do have some practical but still attractive stationery, which will also take fountain pen ink. Here is an example that I picked up today.
This is called a “Creative Book”. It is a fat sub-A4 squarish ring-bound notebook with a generous 140 pages of plain paper. This is nice paper – it didn’t bleed or feather when exposed to my most ridiculous fountain pen, a Lamy 2000 with a broad nib. (Edit: after some use, I can say that the paper is relatively absorbent, and spreads quite a bit, so even quite fine-nibbed fountain pens will be wider than normal.) The size is convenient for me as well. I find that ring-bound A4 notebooks tend to get a bit squashed when stuffed in a bag, and be a little too tall, but this fits well into my bag with the rings upwards.
Why would I want such a book? I have pocket notebooks coming out of my ears, but sometimes when coming up with ideas it just isn’t ideal to have to scrawl on a little Rhodia pad or Habana notebook where you flip pages every minute and can’t see what you’ve already written without flipping back. Maybe you want to draw a diagram, or sketch a picture or wireframe, or make a mindmap. I used to have an A4 squared book which was good for this, but the size did result in ring-squashage, and the exact model that I had is now apparently not on sale any more.
Paperchase do also make other types of notebook in this style, which I assume use the same paper. There are 80-page A4 books, lined and plain, as well as A5 and smaller, side-bound or reporter-style. The polypropylene covers are tough and attractively simple in design – they look like something you’d find in Muji, and I mean that as a compliment. They’re also relatively inexpensive as well; the Creative Book above was £4.50, and the A4 books were the same price. It’s very hard to get hold of decent quality plain paper notebooks on the high street these days, and while Paperchase is not on every high street it’s still a relatively common chain, so if you share similar priorities to myself you should take a look. (Even if you’re happy with lined paper, they do have a selection of lined notebooks in this range as well.)