I was going to give a talk to the youth group a year or so ago and found that the easy way to flip pages would be a top bound ring tablet. I wished there was a larger size of the Doane Paper large flap jotter. That would've been perfect, but alas an initial search proved fruitless. I emailed Brad Dowdy over at the Pen Addict asking if he had any recommendations. He recommended this Maruman tablet. I was a little wary because the flip was landscape and was looking for portrait, but I purchased it anyway. It would eventually get used.
Maruman's Imagination series covers the full gamut of sizes, from small to large. I chose the A4 size, which is roughly the equivalents to the size of regular printer paper. This landscape style also comes in the A5 size.
It comes in two different ruling, blank and 5mm² graph paper. I'm not yet ready to jump into notebooks at this size without ruling so I chose the graph. The graph is aesthetically pleasing. The squared look gives it an enjoyable order, and the grey ink used keeps the pattern subtle. It doesn't jump off the page like the light blue of cheap looseleaf.
The paper itself is off white. It does render the 'glare' of Clairefontaine a con, lending to the paper's subtlety. The paper was designed to foster writing by not getting in the way.
The only factor the separates itself as different is the heading block at the top of the page. It gives a space for the writer to title the page. At the opposite end, it gives the opportunity to date or number the page.
Closed, this notebook looks like it can take some abuse, especially in a bag. The front cover is hard plastic that still retain pliability. It is stamped in gold emboss with the type of notebook. I enjoy the mismatch of fonts from the branding to the labeling. The back cover is hard cardboard.
This hard cardboard gives the writer a solid surface to write on, allowing this notebooks to be taken and used just about anywhere. You do not need a desk: a lap works just fine. At the same time, the 'backboard' retains some pliability, so it can be bent without breaking.
I had chosen this pad in hopes I could switch pages of notes for a talk quickly without having loose pages to fall and get mixed up. My earlier suspicion was confirmed, though. The landscape wouldn't work. I stowed it away amongst my other A4 pads for later use. I pulled it out to use it in a few blog posts (here and here), wherein it held up well with both pen and pencil. It's main use became the pad I would write out my homilies to deliver them. I use broad or stub nibs for that task so I needed both large rile and paper that could handle wet nibs. This pad fit the bill. The rule was perfect for my large print handwriting and the paper responds well to fountain pen ink. It showed shading and only slightly feathered with wetter inks or pens. If I were to writer like I do on a normal basis, though, the ruling would be too wide for my tastes.
As for the landscape, for homilies, I ignored it. The title space became a margin, and I would write from top to bottom, instead of side to side (as I am right now). I prefer the top to bottom because I feel like I could use more of the notebook in double spacing.
Another great feature is that all 70 pages are perforated. This allowed me to tear out the pages I would use for my homilies. As I went through the notebook, there was this satisfaction that is was slowly getting smaller and thinner. The perforation itself is very clean and easy to tear. There are no 'jagged edges,' only clean lines, keeping with the pad's aesthetic.
The wire binding is solid. I have nightmare (only after inhaling too much Noodler's ink) of the wire binding of the old Mead notebooks, from high school. The wire would bunch up at the bottom compacting the notebook. It would cut holes in my backpack. The Maruman (which sounds eerily like the Christopher Lee character in Lord of the Rings, God rest his soul) binding is doubled and can handle extra abuse. I found only slight bending at the far left, or 'bottom,' of the wire. This could be the ultimate commuter's pad.
The last thing I would mention before looking at how pens faired would be that the grid is only on one side of the paper. If I was using it as a regular 'prose' notebook like I do with my journal notebooks this would be a problem because I use front and back. The paper can handle ink on both side so I don't understand the design move. The way I end up using it the blank side didn't matter. So take the thought or leave it.
The paper handles pencils real well. It's not off-white to the degree that lead looses its readability. In fact, if I was a regular pencil user, I would really enjoy this paper, but, then again, I would want ruling on both sides. It handles ballpoint and gel pen inks well (I prefer smaller line widths in those so the cross-section is slightly skewed). It handled the two brush pens really well. I really like how the Kuretake looks when opened up on the paper. It handled my fountain pens and inks as well. There was no bleedthrough on any except one, and that exception, Noodler's Blue Nosed Bear in a semi-flex nib, is a 'paper killer.' No paper has withstood its flow, yet. There was feathering from the aformentioned giving my character fur, but there was also slight feathering from the Ina-Ho. The ghosting occurred in the calligraphy pen and the fountain pens, but since I only used one side it didn't matter to me.
Despite the aforementioned commuter readiness, personally I found it difficult to use only because 1) I have a small lap 2) I have small hands 3) I have small handwriting. I couldn't walk around writing in this. It's the perfect size for a desk or a table though.
The key to the pad lies in its writing experience. It doesn't have the synthetic glossiness of Clairefontine paper, but it's still very smooth, even with fine nibbed Japanese pens, which usually have a bit of scratchiness. It doesn't have a tooth either. It's a pleasure to write on this paper, especially with wide nibbed pens. I feel like I set the bar real high with my first paper review.
I purchased this pad at Jet Pens for $17.50, which is on the lower end of the price range of A4 notebooks at that retailer. On the whole, I consider it a good value.
Is the Writing Reverenced?
Despite the fact that the notebook didn't fill the niche for which I purchased it, its quality far surpassed my initial expectations. I didn't feel bound (pun unintended) to the landscape. The feel of the paper and the subtlety of the graph have become the standard by which I judge.
Pen: Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen - Extra Fine - Black