Excellent, fountain pen friendly paper in a fun format
I have wanted to try Apica notebooks for a while as the reviews that I have seen have been very positive. Unfortunately, Apica is not readily available to purchase in Canada, without importing from the US. I prefer to buy paper products in person as the shipping weight of paper can add up quickly, and I always seem to get caught with extra customs taxes and costs on paper products.
A recent shopping trip to my favourite local store, Nikaido Gifts in Steveston, BC brought me some luck, as they have added to their paper selection and now carry both Apica and Tomoe River paper. The Apica notebook I purchased is a composition book style in an A5 style.
Apica Composition Notebook
The soft-cover book contains 50 sheets of paper, making 100 pages. The pages are not numbered but do have a title block on each page allowing the writer to fill in a page number and date. There is also a single index sheet at the beginning of the notebook. The index is on a grey paper and is an additional sheet of paper to the 50 lined, white writing paper. The lined pages each have a header block, highlighted with dark blue lines at the top and bottom. The other lines in the page are in a light grey except for the bottom line, which is an attractive dark blue line to balance the header lines visually.
The ruling distance is 7mm, which is a North American College Rule format. The paper is smooth, fountain pen friendly, and only has a little show through. I began writing with a Montblanc Royal Blue in a Kaweco Al Sport equipped with an extra fine nib, and I had no smudging with a 10-second dry time in regular writing. The paper is very smooth and well behaved - as one would expect from a quality Japanese brand.
Other features that I appreciated in this notebook include the lay-flat paper stitching. I can comfortably write on both sides of the page, and with only 50 sheets of paper, this is as close to a flat, perfect writing experience on any page in the book. Apica reinforces the cardboard stock cover with a tape binding strip. While it is easy to tell, I believe this will hold up to use well, and I do expect it to wear pleasantly over time as well - I little like a well-worn field note.
And finally, I like the price point. At retail, this notebook was less than $6 Canadian. While not as inexpensive as a big-box store composition book, the quality of the paper and build of the journal make this feel like excellent value to me.
This composition book is my first Apica-made notebook despite having been on my radar for a couple of years. I have heard the Pen Addict highly recommend Apica - and my experience confirms his positive experience. If only there were more Apica paper products readily available in Canada, this would be a top recommendation. If you can find these books, I highly recommend trying one.