Monday, January 15, 2018

FANTASTICPAPER COLOR A5 NOTEBOOK REVIEW

Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
I was very curious to check out this new -to me- notebook brand from Germany called Fantasticpaper. With a name like that, expectations are inevitably through the roof. Skeptical as I am, I expected a big letdown when I bought one from my local pen store Le├źn in Hasselt (no webshop yet, but definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!) 

Luckily I'm often proven wrong, and this is one of those instances. For me, the positive experience actually already starts at the design of the notebook. It's incredibly well-thought out and features some welcome functions in a stylish, minimalist package. 
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper currently makes two different models, the COLOR featured here, and the COUTURE which has silver gilded edges. The Color comes in 6 different two-tone color combinations. I went for grey and red which I think is stylish with just the right amount of color. The cover is made of a relatively thin cardboard that had a very pleasant rubberised texture to it. The corners of both the cover and the paper inside are pointed, as opposed to most notebooks that feature rounded corners. There's minimal branding on the back cover but the rest is slick and clean-looking. 
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
While this cardstock paper softcover is probably not as sturdy as a hardcover, it's definitely thicker than most softcover notebooks. About three seconds after I removed it from the shrink-wrap, I dropped it on a corner and it seemed to survive that pretty well. It can probably withstand a fair share of usage, but I doubt it'll still look like new after a few months of use. Softcover notebooks are usually thinner with less pages, so they don't have to keep up as long. This being a full-sized notebook with 200 pages, it'll have to last a bit, so I could see durability being an issue in the long run.
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Size comparison of the Fantasticpaper A5 (top) with the Leuchtturm A5 notebook (bottom).
Honestly, nothing about this notebook is standard. Sizewise, the Fantasticpaper A5 isn't really that far off from standard dimensions. But the shape of the notebook is somewhat unusual. The dimensions are wider and shorter than most comparable brands' offerings.It measures 15 cm (5.9") by 20 cm (7.9"). Comparing it with a Leuchtturm 1917 A5 notebook, the Fantasticpaper Color is slightly wider and less tall. It's also quite thick, despite the thin paper cover. 
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
The size is odd, but the binding is even more unusual. They call it Swiss binding, which is a combination of bound and glued, and instead of being attached to both sides of the inside of the cover, it's only attached to the back. This means the front cover opens up to lay entirely flat, and for some reason the pages itself also open up perfectly flat.
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
One issue with the binding is that the front cover doesn't support the left sides of the pages, so for the first half of the notebook, the back side of each page is quite difficult to use because it doesn't rest on the cover (I used another notebook stacked underneath it to support it while writing, not ideal).
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
The Fantasticpaper notebook may seem quite 'basic' at first sight, but they actually pack a really clever design feature that adds functionality. Inside the back cover, you'll find a few perforated slots that you have to loosen yourself. The top one is a foldable bookmark, while the bottom slot can accommodate a business card or two. I really like how they incorporated this into the design, while still keeping the overall look of the notebook very clean and simple. 
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
The 96 sheets of lined 90 gsm Munken paper make for quite a thick stack of  surprisingly decent paper. Would I call it fantastic? Well no, it's a bit toothy for my taste (ideal for pencil or ballpoint pen). But it does handle ink surprisingly well.

At first, it seems like the paper wants to soak up the ink entirely and feather like crazy. But surprisingly the feathering is very limited. Ink spreads a little bit, which makes line widths appear a bit wider than usual (not ideal if you like those EEF lines), but the writing looks surprisingly crisp and clear. There's a slight bit of shading to it, but it's not very pronounced (don't even think about sheen, that's a bridge too far). Despite the relatively absorbent paper, I encountered no bleedthrough, and only moderate ghosting (although not up to the point where it interfered with writing on the back of the page.
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Overall, I am quite pleased with the results! The limited amount of ink spread and feathering is acceptable, and the lack of bleedthrough is impressive. It's a strange paper to write on because it sucks up the ink (which makes it feel 'mushy' when you write), but the result is pretty decent and I like it.
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review
Unfortunately they are currently not that widespread available. But if you are in Europe, there are a few online and physical stores that offer them. The best part: they are VERY affordable. Prices vary a bit, but I've seen them go between 10 and 12.5 EUR per book. I guess the lack of a hardcover is a good way to press costs, and in the end the most important part is paper quality (for me at least). That being said, if you are looking for a durable notebook, a hardcover might be the better way to go.
Fantasticpaper Color A5 notebook review

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