Everyone knows about the fantastic fountain pens made by TWSBI, but although they have been out for a while, I don’t tend to hear much about TWSBI Notebooks. With that said I decided we needed to get a TWSBI Notebook review up here so I picked one up (via Amazon) because its so much cheaper than the actual TWSBI site once you factor in shipping.
The TWSBI Notebook comes in three sizes (Small, Medium, and Large) in either blank, ruled, or grid formats. For our TWSBI Notebook review, we will be looking at the Large Grid version. The large version here measures 7.5″ x 9.8″ with the Medium measuring 5.25″ x 8.25″ and the Small measuring 3.75″ x 5.5″. Each has a soft leather-like flexible black cover with a thin elastic closure strap (more on that in a second) that is also black.
So the elastic closure strap, right off the bat because I don’t want to set a negative tone for this review, I’ll say I think this is my only real issue with the notebook and its not a deal breaker by any means. The issue is that the elastic strap might be the weakest I’ve seen on any notebook to date. I’m not sure if I got a faulty one or if they are all like this, however as you can see from the picture its actually a bit loose. The amount of pressure required to pull it up like I did in this picture was minimal, most other notebooks would lift up completely after having only pulled the strap to a fraction of that height. When I settled in to do this TWSBI Notebook review this was the first thing I noticed and it set me up for low expectations going forward.
The next thing I wanted to see about the TWSBI Notebook was if it laid flat when it was freshly cracked open. As you can see, it passed that test with flying colors. The binding all looks and feels pretty well constructed and the red satin woven ribbon page finder looks and feels great with its nice red contrast against the black of the notebook cover.
In addition to the red accents of the page finder ribbon, the back inside cover of the TWSBI notebook has a large pocket with some nice red accents on the sides. The woven fabric here looks like it gives the folded hinges of the pocket a nice durable presence.
On the back of the TWSBI notebook you will find some additional but subtle branding. Here the TWSBI name and logo are embossed on the bottom center edge of the leather-like notebook cover. I’ve always found the TWSBI branding to have a classic and subtle look to it, although I also always think the logo looks like something from the Transformers.
TWSBI Notebook Review Writing Experience:
My first pass at a writing sample for this TWSBI Notebook review was done with my
Pelikan Souveran M805 Stresemann (LOVE that pen, here is the review if you missed it) with a medium nib and loaded up with Noodler’s QEternity ink. This combination of pen, ink, and paper resulted in a fantastic writing experience. The TWSBI Notebook paper is very fountain pen friendly and I didn’t see any rouge feathering or spreading of the ink and enjoyed a super smooth and skip free writing experience. I wouldn’t classify the paper as being bright white, its more of a flat white and the 3/16″ x 3/16″ grid rulings are a soft grey color, both of which I think work well with the dark blue of the Noodler’s QEternity ink.
Next I took a few different types of ink and pens to the TWSBI Notebook paper to see if they performed as well as my first pass with a fountain pen. In addition to the Pelikan Stresemann I tried out our recently reviewed Pelikan Stola III, a Pilot Precise V5, and a Sharpie Pen with a fine point. Among all of the pens, the Sharpie Pen turned up with the best dry time at about 3 seconds, while the fountain pens and Pilot Precise clocked in between 5 and 9 seconds to dry and resist smudging. The results I got with the Pelikan Stresemann held true with the balance of the other three pens in terms of their smooth writing, and resistance to both feathering and spreading of the ink.
Flipping the TWSBI Notebook paper to the other side after writing with each of the pens did reveal a slight bit of show through which you can see in the picture above. I’d classify it as more “shadowy” than “showy” if that makes sense. More simply put I’m pretty adverse to show through on any paper, but in this case I think it was subtle enough not to be too much of a distraction. Keep in mind too that the show through is going to be worse for darker inks like the blues and black that I used as compared to the red of the Sharpie pen and its finer point.
If you can get past the minor issue of the pretty weak elastic strap, I think the TWSBI Notebook is a great option for fountain pen users, which is no surprise since it comes directly from one of the more innovative and customer focused fountain pen companies out there. As I said previously though, I picked mine up from here from Amazon because the shipping for one notebook from the TWSBI site for one notebook was almost as much as the notebook itself.