Monday, April 5, 2010

Review: Clairefontaine Roadbook

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

Product information printed on the last page of the book. Notice the small imprint at the bottom left of the page.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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.)

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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...

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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)

Clairefontaine Roadbook

The cover on all of the products in the Basics line are a stiff, but thin and flexible cardboard.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

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.


anczelowitz said...

Well, for $7.00 - you can't expect much from a journal, right?.....I appreciate your need for books remaining flat when opened and this is a problem with most inexpensive (and cheaply bound) books. If you are looking for a beautiful well-made journal that WILL open flat, check out our awagami+1 "open spine" journal ("sketchnote" in Japanese)- It's a beauty, albeit a bit more pricey but well worth it:

Biffybeans said...

I wouldn't exactly call $7 inexpensive...

For a 3x5 journal with sewed signatures, a glued binding and French made 90g Clairefontaine paper, it's a good price. It just doesn't happen to work for me.

The awagami+1 books look nice, but I don't care for reporter style books... very awkward for me to hold. Do you happen to know if they are available in the US?

MperiodPress said...

These look like the Exacompta nostalgie refills that I used to use as journals in and of themselves (ie not in another cover). I loved them--they were practically impossible to harm--could be tossed in the bag, stuck in the pocket, bent, etc.

From what I can tell, it looks like Exacompta is part of the Exaclair family... Do you know-are these Roadbooks relatives of the refills?

Biffybeans said...

MperiodPress - I'll tell you.... I thought the same at first - but though Clairefontaine owns Exacompta, I would say no. They may look similar in design, but I do not believe the Exacomptas ever had 90g paper. On the Exacompta refills I have seen, the elastic is removable, while this is not. I think maybe they are distant cousins. :)

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