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Leuchtturm Notebook Paper Quality

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Yet another notebook was filled to the brim this month (#14), a Paperblanks Flexis A6 notebook with the Safavid decorative flap. I had that one lying around for ages and dreaded starting writing in it. Paperblanks notebooks are, in my opinion, horribly bad at keeping the fountain pen ink on the page. It is prone to bleeding and looks quite ugly, even if you do your best with your handwriting. But I really really needed something to write and forgot to stock up on notebooks, so the Paperblanks it was.

Nine months later, I’m glad it’s over, and I finally get to choose a new notebook. The previous three ones were all Leuchtturm A5 blank notebooks that offered excellent paper quality when it comes to fountain pens. There’s a lot less bleed-through compared to Moleskine or even Paperblanks books, and more importantly, they’re pleasant to write in—that is, smooth. Not as smooth as a Rhodia notebook, but smooth enough for a fine nib not to get stuck.

Or so I thought.

I have 15 pages filled and it’s getting on my nerves. I constantly think my pen nib is misaligned or a cat hair is caught in-between the nibs. It feels like I’m carving text in a tree instead of writing on a piece of paper. Even cheap copy paper performs better than this (except of course for the bleed). I’m less concerned about sheen and bleed than I am about the smoothness and pleasantness of the writing process—something that makes me want to keep on writing. What’s going on, why is this Leuchtturm notebook that bad, while the previous three ones were great?

It turns out that Leuchtturm lately is notorious for their varying paper quality. John Bosley over at concluded the same after comparing two different Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. His paper quality tests even indicate a major difference in bleed-through, which is quite shocking to me. Why would a respectable notebook company churn out mediocre products like this, while they (used to) have an excellent reputation, especially to more demaning fountain pen users?

Three books wrote great. With the last one, I feel like a DJ scratching on vinyl.

I tried writing a couple of sentences in previous Leuchtturm books and switched back and forth the different books I have here, and lo and behold: the difference was immediately noticeable during writing! But… why? This sucks. I was so glad I got rid of the Paperblanks one and looking forward to writing in a good notebook with smooth paper. I could go on and buy a few more until the quality is decent enough to write in and toss the other one, but it’s already written in and I have difficulties letting go after it’s being “broken into”. And even then, there’s no guarantee that other books I buy will not have the same terrible paper quality. Again, this sucks.

Other options are Midori, the respected Japanese notebook company. I have one filled Midori notebook and quite liked it, but (1) it’s Japanese paper, and I am naive enough to think that the German Leuchtturm would be less destructive to our environment, and (2) that paper is a bit too smooth. Yes, I’m being picky, but I have to write in the same book for at least half a year, so I’m allowed to be picky.

I’m upset and can’t decide on what to do. Should I continue writing in it, take another gamble and buy another one from Leuchtturm, or order one from another brand all-together?

The difficulties we journalers face…

I tried a few of the later pages in the book. They’re OK. I have no idea why, or if this my mind playing tricks on me. I guess I’ll stick with it for just a little longer…

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a level 36 Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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