Monday, April 5, 2010
Clairefontaine's new Roadbook journal, part of their new Life. Unplugged series.
At 3 1/2 x 5 1/2" it's small enough to slip in your pocket & hit the dusty trail. It contains 128 pages of Clairefontaine's famous 90g bright white ph neutral acid-free, super fountain pen friendly lined (7mm ruled) paper. (Whew!)
Sold assorted, they come in the same colors as all of the Clairefontaine Basics products, (known as "Age Bag" outside the US) red, tan, black and green.
Inside the front cover you will find a leader page containing a printed map and a place to put your name, date, etc., if you so choose. I expected to find other printed pages with information such as world telephone exchanges, or an international time table, but after this page, it goes straight to the lined paper.
Product information printed on the last page of the book. Notice the small imprint at the bottom left of the page.
The book can be secured shut by a stretchy elastic band, but the grommets may leave an impression on the opposing page. Me personally, I don't like anything that I might be able to "feel" as I'm writing. Kind of like the "Princess and the Pea" scenario. (Same reason why I don't put things in the back pockets of my journals.)
The glued spine of this book will certainly keep the book from falling apart, but I had a heck of a time getting it to open anywhere near flat. I had to work the spine open & closed quite a few times which them leaves the book kind of... open, unless you secure it with the elastic band. If you want a journal with this thick 90g paper, it's really difficult to construct a binding that lies perfectly flat unless you reduce the number of pages in the book.
Since the book doesn't exactly open flat, it may be a chore to hold it in one hand while writing with the other - something a traveler might want to do while off on an adventure...
To aid in getting the book to open as flat as possible, Clairefontaine scored the cover - which is good in theory, but if holding the book in one hand, which ever side the of the book has less pages is going to tend to flop back a bit. (Hardcover books wouldn't have this problem)
The cover on all of the products in the Basics line are a stiff, but thin and flexible cardboard.
Due to the way the cover is scored in combination with the binding design, it does not allow you to fold the book back on itself - something that could help stabilize the book when writing on the go.
All in all, I'm almost never writing on a flat surface, and the ability for a book to open as flat as possible is really important to me. I've noticed that several of Clairefontaine's products (with the exception of the Habana) have to be encouraged to open/lie flat. While I am quite aware of the luxurious feel of writing on this paper, I'd almost prefer a thinner 64g paper (like in the small Habana) in situations where the binding design cannot allow for maximum openness.
The Roadbook is retailing for around $7 and is currently available. Click here to find a retailer.