Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's missing in this photo? (This one is for my fellow fountain pen users)

Rhodia ePure, Large Moleskine & my current favorite fountain pens

Looks like a writer's dream, right? Wrong. Why? Because two things are missing from this photo.

While this image shows my three favorite fountain pens, (Red Lamy Safari with EF nib, a Pelikan M200 with F nib, and a Sailor Sapporo with a M nib) it doesn't include my NEXT favorite pen, (fingers crossed that it truly will be) a Black and Silver Sailor 1911 with a Fine nib that I just purchased ever so slightly used from my pal Ryan Roossnick from the Brassing Adds Character blog.

Ironically, it was Ryan's post on an extreme example of Sailor's customer service (read it here) that pushed me over the edge in wanting to buy another Sailor.

The full sized 1911 is reputed to be a Cadillac among fountain pens, with it's ultra smooth 21k gold nib. It's not an inexpensive pen, as it's selling for $205 at Pear Tree Pens, but when you need a tool to do the job, you buy the best tool that you can afford to buy, even if it puts a bit of a strain on the pocketbook. I am not a collector of fountain pens - I'm a user. This means that 99.9% of the time if I go to put ink to paper, it's with a fountain pen. I use fountain pens because of how effortless it is to put ink to paper. Effortless = no more hand cramping & fatigue. Effortless = the ability to write for longer periods of time.

So what's the other thing missing in this photo? Can you guess?

It's missing my idea of the perfect journal for using fountain pens/ink.

With all of the options out there, Moleskine, Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Miquelrius, Quo Vadis, Hand*Book, etc., you think I could find SOMETHING that fits the bill of "My Ultimate Journal." But sadly, no.

My number one pre-requisite is that the book lie flat. I personally have no use for a book that doesn't like flat. Spiral bound books don't count because I don't appreciate having the metal coil dig into my hand as I try to write on the reverse side of the paper. (Moleskine has this one covered, as does the Quo Vadis Habana.)

My number two prerequisite is that the book be hard bound. I prefer a hard bound book because half the time I'm not writing on a flat surface. I'm sitting in an easy chair, or in a Doctor's office and I write with the book propped on my knee. A hard back journal (assuming it also lies flat) lets me write effortlessly on either the left or right hand sides of the paper. (Moleskine again has this one covered, as does Clairefontaine..)

Number three is the paper quality. I want/need/have to have paper that does NOT bleed or feather, or show through when fountain ink is applied. This is where things get tricky, because so many journals are made with thin, cheap paper. (Think Moleskine.) Clairefontaine seems to be cornering the market with some of the best fountain pen friendly paper out there but their hardback books don't lie flat. (I'm also not keen on the blinding white paper that they are famous for. I prefer to write on ivory paper.

My perfect journal is very close in design to the large Moleskine, but with better quality paper.

So what I'm not understanding is why with the hundreds of journal options out there, why one of these companies doesn't tweak their products to meet the needs of not only me, but of the 17,000 registered users of the Fountain Pen Network?. Yes, you read that number correctly. There are a lot of us out there, and there are literally hundreds of different colors of fountain pen inks available, but it's hard to buy them when 80% of the time you end up with a bottle of ink that misbehaves on cheap quality paper in a $20 journal. (Yes...I'm talking about Moleskine again.)

With what we are spending on pens, ink & paper, I hope someone listens...really listens...


zquilts said...

large moleskein size, college ruled, cream clairfontaine paper = would perfection in my opinion. Let's hope indeed

Ann said...

There's another notebook you can consider, and it takes fountain pen really well, although it's hard to get and not cheap - but it's refillable. And well, the leather is not exactly hard back, but it's not extremely soft either. If you don't mind these things, give Midori Traveler's Notebook a try.

I have one and I love it. :)

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