Like, for example, suddenly Moleskine notebook quality seems variable.
Yes, we all groused when they moved manufacturing of the beloved favorite from Italy to China (with no decrease in price mind you.) But, our favorite little black book stayed the same.
And then, it didn't.
The paper changed. Now, I have only anecdotal evidence for this claim, but when it's your anecdote, that's all the evidence one needs.
I was at a medical conference taking notes, one fountain pen with me and the bleed through was too distracting. Had to change to a pencil.
|Sailor cartridge ink. Bleed through from reverse too!|
Writer's are an odd lot. They can be funny (obsessive) about writing instruments, paper, books, the weather, whatever. Cruising stationery blogs. Yes, blogs about stationery. Discovered Rhodia Drive, remembered Clairefontaine paper and was offered a chance to review some Moleskine competition.
|Rhodia Webnotebook - Blank|
Rhodia - 192 pages, inner pocket, Clairefontaine brushed Vellum 90g paper, made in France.
Moleskine - 192 plain pages, acid-free paper, expanding inner pocket, company in Italy, manufactured in China.
Right out of the wrapper, the Rhodia feels like the higher quality product. The cover is thicker, feels rubberized (the description calls this "leatherette.") It's soft. In comparison, the Moleskine's hard cardboard cover feels like hard cardboard.
Moleskine is more modestly branded with a small "Moleskine" impressed into the back cover. "Rhodia" is deeply carved into the front cover.
|Front and Center|
The elastic band closure has the same tension in both notebooks. It left a noticeable dent in the Rhodia. Purists (fuss pots) may not like their notebook so defaced.
Due to the plush cover and heavier paper, the Rhodia is slightly thicker than the Moleskine.
The Rhodia just fits in a case I bought for a pocket Moleskine (a long time ago from a website far, far away.)
Rhodia felt more substantial.
The paper in each is labeled "cream." To my eye, under my light source, Rhodia cream was slightly warmer than Moleskine cream.
Rhodia paper is thicker, slicker (smooth) and shiny.
Shiny? I thought, this can't be good. Will it repel fountain pen ink?
Compared to this Clairefontaine paper, Moleskine paper felt thin and rough.
|Three fountain pens, ink from two companies, two pencils.|
The fountain pen ink wrote smoothly on the Rhodia with no bleed through, no lag in drying time. The pencils, well, pencil-like on hot press paper.
I've already mentioned trouble with multiple inks on Moleskine and the paper has enough "tooth" to roughen the pencil writing.
I was surprised to find, I could get the ink to bleed on the Rhodia.
|Sometimes I sit and think. Sometimes I just sit.|
Moleskine bound with four.
I know from sewing my own notebooks, this means the Rhodia is the sturdier book.
How sturdy does a notebook need to be? Is it sitting on your desk, or riding in a pocket?
A web search found Rhodia prices $14.75 at Writer's Bloc. Moleskine $10.95, regularly $12.00 at Moleskines.com. There may be other, better deals to be found by more careful shoppers.
I remember the backlash against Moleskine fans who were labeled pretentious to pay $12+ for a notebook when a 99¢ spiral bound got the job done.
Enjoying getting the job done is worth some extra. The Rhodia Webnotebook is a quality analog instrument. With just a couple of cosmetic grumbles, I recommend it to anyone who has fallen out of love with Moleskine.