Call for notebook recommendations

From The Well-Appointed Desk mailbag came this request from Danny:

I would appreciate your opinion. My favorite journal is the Rhodia Webnotebook. I like the fountain pen friendly, off-white colored paper in the 14 x 21 cm size. The only improvement I would like is for the journal to lay flat when open. Do you know of any journals that combine all these features? Thanks very much!

In my opinion, this is the great triumvirate of notebook wishes: right size, right paper, right format. For the US crowd, he’s looking for a 5×8″. For the UK audience, that’s A5 size. Off-white and lays flat. Sounds like a hardcover. There was no mention of line width or grid or blank but let’s toss those into the mix as well.

I like the Leuchtturm 1917 but the paper is a warm white, not cream and not quite as thick as the Rhodia webnotebook stock. As for laying flat, any sewn binding should be able to take the abuse of being opened wider than flat to loosen it up to get it to lay closer to flat but my Leuchtturm 1917 does not lay perfectly flat either.

Do you have a recommendations for him?

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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I recently purchased the Leuchtturm 1917 in both hard and soft cover, both of which I really like and I think might fit the bill. The softcover might very well lie flatter for you so that might be something worth looking into. They aren’t that expensive so if you didn’t like it it wont break the bank. I think I paid $10 for the softcover and with just under 200 pages (I think) it’s pretty reasonable.

  2. When I visited Germany back in 2010, I satisfied my craving for square-ruled notebooks with a local brand called Idena (

    They have notebooks from sizes A4 to A7, around 200 pages, hardcover, with innerpocket and bookmark. Paper is good, doesn’t bleed much to the opposite side (but I don’t use fountain pens, currently, so I would not know how it behaves with those).

    I like black ink needle point pens (Faber Vision 1475, Pilot Precise V5, Uni-ball Vision Needle) and they are all quite comfortable to write with on this notebook.

    Price was 4.99 Euros for the larger A4 and ranged until 1.99 Euros for the smaller A7. A5 was 3.99.

    I don’t know about the availability outside of Germany and I don’t know if this is an issue for your reader (though it may help others). But I can atest for the quality of the notebook and the price is a bargain. I never had the chance to peruse a Leuchtturm 1917, but I compared the Idena with the similar Moleskine and I haven’t seen any reasons to go with the expensive Moleskines.

    Got me a good assortment of those Idena and it should last me at least 4 years.

    Here’s a link to their page on the A4 version:

    Here’s a link to on the A5 version:

    Hope it helps.

    1. Forgot to mention: they have elastic band wrappers as well.

      Just took a look at the Leuchtturm 1917 website. I would really like to have one of those to compare.

  3. I really like Ecosystem’s books. The hard-cover doesn’t stay open any better than a Webbie. But their softcover books are super durable and stay open nicely. Nice paper, too, with plenty of eco-creds. 🙂

  4. After years of using Moleskines, I’ve switched over to a Traveler’s Notebook by Midori. The leather cover is a little pricy but well worth the money. It develops wonderful character over time and lays flat. The notebooks from Midori are fountain pen friendly as well. The cool thing about these notebooks is that you can make your own inserts out of your favorite paper stock. I once trimmed a Rhodia notebook down to fit. It worked great!

  5. The great notebook conundrum is never solved I’m afraid. For example, I wish there was a A4 dot web notebook in the US with the standard Rhodia paper. Anyway, there is a A4 Spiral Rhodia notebook, which would lay flat, but it does have the Spiral. The Whitelines notebooks are almost flat, and they work fairly well with fountain pens. The Bandit Apple Carnet Tablet I believe comes in an A5 size and it should lay flat. The paper is good, but the cover is fairly flimsy.

  6. I think Quo Vadis and Rhodia are the best. If you can afford the Webbie, give the Habana a go.

    The quality of the Leuchtturm is higher than Moleskine, and about as good a bang for your buck as you will find in the hard-cover ranks. Also worth a look are similar notebooks by Behance, Conceptum, & JOTTRR.

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