For several months now, I’ve seen the epic stacks of Paperthinks recycled leather covered notebooks on various sites. There are about two dozen different colors to choose from with this notebook and they are available in blank or lined, a variety of sizes and in a slim and wide version, page count seems to vary depending on overall book size. Its quite an array of products but all the attention seemed to be focused on the array of colors for the covers and the recycled leather they use for the covers and very little is mentioned about the paper, which, in the end, is what I really care about. So, finally, I decided to take one for the collective paper geek team and buy one. I chose the slim notebook (256 pages, 4.7″x6.7″) with lined paper in the lemongrass color (surprise!).
The only branding on the exterior of the book is a screen print logo done in tone-on-tone ink at the bottom edge of the spine. On the back cover, at the bottom is embossed the words “Recycled Leather”. There are a slip of paper inside the book describing the process for creating recycled leather. They compare the process to how wood-pulp paper is made, shredding scraps of leather into a fine pulp and then mixing it with water and binding agents to reform it into sheets. Then texture and color are added. It certainly smells and feels like real leather.
The book has a thin, color-coordinated ribbon bookmark as well as a gusseted pocket in the back of the book for loose papers and ephemera. The book cloth gusset on my book was a lighter shade of lemongrass green and looked particularly well-constructed.
The Paperthinks notebooks feature a Smythe sewn binding so the book lays flat pretty easily. The recycled leather covers are pliable with just a paper endpaper lining attaching them to the book. It gives the book a pleasing feel, stiff enough to write on your lap but not rigid.
The paper is a soft ivory color, a little bit lighter than the Rhodia/Quo Vadis ivory. The lines are a fine light grey and spaced at 6mm.
So far, the notebook is checking all my boxes. Nice lines, great leather covers, pocket in the back, good price value ($12.95 from Kate’s Paperie) so all that was left was to determine how good the paper was. Color me impressed. There was a little bit of tooth to the paper but none of my fountain pens splined or bled. I tried EF, F and M nibs and all worked fine. Gel/hybrid pens took to the toothy surface quite well as did the felt tips like my beloved Marvy Le Pens. Pencils skated along and only the lightest leads (F-C Castell 9000 HB) seemed a little too light on the paper since the graphite color was almost the same as the lines.
On the reverse side of the paper, there was a little show-through from the fountain pens but with all the gel, hybrid and felt tips, there would be no issues using both sides of the paper.
Overall for the quality, price and options, these are really good notebooks. I’d certainly recommend these as an upgrade to anyone who normally uses a Moleskine. Paperthinks are now offering a version with an elastic as well, so its even more competitive to a Moleskine in terms of features. If you are a diehard fountain pen user though, I’d say stick to the Rhodia/Quo Vadis line, especially if you use broad nibs since the bleed-though would probably be even more noticeable.