Review of Leuchtturm A5 Hardcover Notebooks

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May 10, 2016

Updated on December 5, 2016 to reflect my finding of paper quality variance across journal versions

I come from Moleskine notebooks, large (A5ish), with a grid. My little adventure with fountain pens has been conditioned by a search for pen/nib/ink combinations that wouldn't bleed through Moleskine paper. A big part of my motivation for moving to Leuchtturm notebooks was to walk-away from this bleeding problem.

Note: this review applies to dot and grid versions. I have a lined one as well (I bought all three to try them out), and it has the virtue of 6mm line-spacing - a slightly more natural spacing for my hand, but uses up paper 20% faster.

Stuff I like about these A5 Leuchtturm, hardcover notebooks

  • NO MORE BLEEDING with normal fountain pens in their grid notebooks - I can still make it happen, but the pen has to be like a fire hose with incredibly dense ink - see Stuff I dislike below for more about this.
  • the pre-numbered pages - no more having to do this myself in notebooks that are no cheaper
  • the removable pages at the back that let me experiment with pens and inks and styles without having to see it forever
  • more pages and (slightly) bigger pages than the Moleskine large format

Stuff that I'm ok with but not over-joyed

  • all the pre-formatting - the pre-printed stuff, such as the date labels at the top of each page - I'm a little less thrilled with the index in the front - this stuff seems "nice" but I really don't need it, since these are the days of open journaling - bullet journaling, actually. I can draw and write my own titles that I want without these pre-printed suggestions, and I don't need the blank top and bottom margins that waste my valuable paper.
  • the "fountain-pen-friendly" paper is a double-edged sword. It doesn't absorb ink as quickly as I am accustomed to, causing me to make smears all over the place. After about a week, I'm still making messes, which is pretty annoying but I imagine I'll get used to it. The mess includes taking a quick note in a meeting and shutting the book immediately to find the mirror image of parts of my note impressed on the facing page.
  • two ribbon book marks - I use book darts (from Lee Valley Tools) to mark pages I want to return to constantly, and I have yet to find a use for more than one ribbon that I can move around easily. They're also a little long.
  • lying flat isn't quite perfectly true - It's close, but no better than Moleskine books, and compared to the binding I've seen in music books I've purchased, for example, this ain't flat.

Stuff I dislike

  • bleeding in the dot version - go figure: they use different paper in different versions - I started using a dot version and had to settle on writing on only one side of the page, because my more aggressive pens and saturated inks soak in to give a bolder line and many of them bleed right through - I thought this was an exclusive feature of Moleskine
  • the front index - everyone seems to like this, but: who in the world would put the page number on the left and the description on the right, the opposite of every English book I have ever seen - go figure

The price (from Wonder Pens) is a pretty good deal too. I`m a big fan of small-time entrepreneurs giving their dreams a try, so I encourage you to order from these people and let them show you how nice they are to deal with.

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