Several years ago, The Pen Addict reviewed a Piccadillly Notebook and I have wanted to try one ever since. Last weekend, while browsing the shelves at our local Half-Price Books, I found that they carried a large collection of blank books and journals, not to mention a huge wall of stationery, notecards and postcards. Half-Price Books is an untapped resource for paper junkies, for sure! What I was pleased to find was that they had the Piccadilly line of notebooks.
I purchased a plain black, lined, medium Essential Notebook which is about 5×8″ in size and comparable to the Moelskine large notebook. The book, for all intents and purposes, looks exactly like a standard black hardcover Moleskine with the black elastic, black leatherette cover, black ribbon bookmark and manila gusset pocket inside the back cover. But there are some notable differences:
- bookmark is sealed so is does not fray
- book contains 240 pages of 80gsm off-white acid-free paper. 80 GSM!
- Piccadilly’s suggested MSRP? $4.99
A Moleskine at the same size is now selling for $13-18 depending on the retailer mark-up so a notebook with a hardcover for $5 is a great deal. Based on price alone, if the Piccadilly notebook had the exact same paper as Moleskine, this would be a no-brainer. BUT… the paper is SO much better! And for me, the paper has always been the sticking point with Moleskines. Ink feathers and bleeds through. I can seldom use boths sides of the page for this reason and must limit myself to using pencil and very fine gel pens.
When I started putting pen to the pleasantly-weighty 80 GSM paper in the Piccadilly, I was thrilled. There is just enough tooth to the paper to keep my pens from sliding across the surface and nary a hint of ink feathering. The lines are light enough that even the lightest ink colors still stand out.
From the reverse of the pen tests, there is no bleed-through and only minor show-through. Once I completed these tests, I immediately started using the notebook as my go-to book. The more I use it, the more I like it. I have always appreciated the simple aesthetics of a Moleskine — the plain black cover that belies what your contents might be. In an office environment, I can be a little self-conscious of carrying a particularly elaborately decorated or designed notebook (floral covers or Hello Kitty might undermine my professionalism) so the Piccadilly is perfect. At $5, there’s no reason not to pick one up and write it all down.
Piccadilly Essential notebooks are available in 3 sizes and come in black as well as a variety of brightly colored covers. Essential Notebooks are available in plain, lined and grid. Check out your local Half-Price Books, search Amazon or check out the Where To Buy section at the Piccadilly site..
- Gourmet Pens reviews the soft-cover edition
- No Pen Intended reviewed a small grid notebook
- DIY Planner tried a small graph version
- Biffy Beans did a thorough write-up of a medium notebook (but I think Piccadilly must have changed the lines since then because my book had lines that seemed lighter than a Moleskine)
- Black Cover calls marketing on Moleskine when compared to the Piccadilly
11 comments / Add your comment below
Excellent, thanks for the heads-up and review! Moleskines are one of the most expensive journals, yet have the crappiest paper. I’ve bought similar journals from the dollar store for $2 and the paper was stellar, at least 95 GSM. Even the ones commonly available at Wal-Mart are better. I will keep my eye out for Piccadilly.
I’ve never set foot in Half-Price Books but I will this weekend. What a bargain! The paper in a moleskine does leave a lot to be desired.
I would snap up a Hello Kitty notebook in a heartbeat. I’m a fan of the feline. However I don’t need to worry about my status or my “porfessionalism” , (just gently teasing!) since I’m self-employed.
Barbara, thanks for catching my typo. Of all the words to misspell!
Thanks for the review. I disagree with the “crappy paper in Moleskines” meme, but I get the Moleskine sketchbooks, not notebooks. I didn’t have to worry about bleed with them. I tried to save $$ and get a knockoff Moleskine, but the paper was much thinner, so now I’m back to the Moleskine sketchbook. Did you notice if Piccadily made sketchbooks?
I did not see any sketchbooks in the Piccadilly line. My only issue with the heavier weight Moleskine sketchbooks is that they are oddly water-resistant. I like to add a bit of watercolor to my sketches, especially with paper as thick as the Moleskine sketchbooks and it resists water and beads. Very annoying.
As for my comparisons with the paper quality of Moleskines, I keep my comments to the notebook paper which they don’t even list any information about on their web site.
I was in Barnes & Noble last night and they had the large for $5.98 and the small for $4.98. They alos still carry the Miquelrius notebook you use, which is one of the best deals on the planet.
I am still using my FIRST Miquelrius. There is a a ridiculous amount of paper in those notebooks!
I’ve had two Picadilly notebooks… Downside? Binding. Both split from the binding when I got about 3/4 of the way through them. For $5, I just started over with a new one. 🙂
This is the first review that pops up for these notebooks despite its age.
If you are interested in these notebooks, they are available from a company called the BookOutlet. It is Bookoutlet.com in the US and BookOutlet.ca in Canada. This is a Canadian company and their retail outlet is on my hometown. The US site sells in US$.
They sell books and stationary returned from other retail outlets. I’m nothing to do with them – just a satisfied customer for over 20 years. Check them out for these notebooks and many other fountain pen friendly notebooks at great prices. Actual books are a great price too.