I’m very picky when it comes to notebooks. Once I renewed my acquaintance with fountain pens (and their liquid ink), I became pickier still. I want what I want. To date, no notebook has met all my criteria, but the Apica Premium CD B5 Notebook (lined) comes close. Very close.
As the name states, it’s B5 sized: 182×257 mm (7.17×10.12 inches). This is Japanese B5, not ISO B5, so the dimensions are a little off from that standard. Regardless, for me this is perfect. I find A4 (letter) to be a bit too big and A5 (half-letter) to be a little too small. So this notebook is right in my personal sweet spot.
The paper is 86.5 gsm, which is a very nice weight for fountain pen use (i.e. no bleed-thru and negligible show-thru). It’s a neutral off-white that is easy on the eyes and doesn’t alter ink tint like the cream-to-yellow papers other brands are fond of. While not quite as smooth as Clairefontaine/Rhodia paper, it’s still very smooth. It’s not highly absorbent, so liquid ink doesn’t quickly soak in or feather — again, very desirable for a fountain pen paper.
The sheets themselves are bound into signatures that allow the notebook to open as flat as you could expect. This isn’t something you find in a lot of notebooks and immediately makes it worthy of serious consideration, especially if you like to write on both sides of a sheet.
The lines in this model are 7 mm apart. For someone like me, who writes small-ish and with F or EF nibs, it’s the ideal line spacing — not as cramped as 5 mm, nor as expansive as 8 or 10 mm.
As I said at the beginning, this only comes very close to my criteria. Obviously it falls short somewhere. For me, it’s the cardstock cover. I prefer a hardcover because it serves as a sort of traveling desk, always giving me a firm surface upon which to write. I’ve compensated for this by making my own slip-on chipboard cover for the notebook.
The other irritant is the price. This is not a notebook you get at the local big box store for just a couple of dollars. As of this writing, it will set you back around $20-25 USD. While it’s a thick notebook at 96 sheets (192 pages), the price isn’t something that inspires buying in bulk. Because it meets so many of my wants in a notebook, I’m willing to pony up the ducats — though I’d hate to see the markup if they actually did have these with hardcovers. Your Meterage May Vary.
The Apica Premium CD B5 Notebook receives some of my highest praise for a notebook. I’ve tried many others, but this has been the best so far. If the price hasn’t scared you away, I strongly recommend it.