The newest fountain pen-friendly journals to arrive on the scene enter a field already teaming with high quality competition but brings a few unique qualities that the pen-loving community may find of interest: it is the only company that comes to mind that currently offers both pen-friendly journals AND manufactures its own highly popular line of fountain pens; and the new journals contain what may be the lightest fountain pen-friendly paper in the mass produced, modestly priced range.
If you've already looked closely at the first photo you know that I'm talking about TWSBI's new notebook, which is currently available in three sizes (3.75"x5.5", 5.25"x8.25", and 7.5"x9.8") and three "options" (blank, lined, grid). I recently had an opportunity to "test drive" one of the medium-sized, blank versions of the TWSBI notebook and would like to share my initial impressions with you.
First, the notebook is softbound in a black leatherette that is embossed with the company's logo on the front and back, and with the company's name on the back. It sports a permanently attached red ribbon bookmark, and an expandable pocket (with sturdy red fabric accordion side panels) inside the rear cover. The individual signatures of the structure are securely stitched together using a heavy double thread and cheesecloth has been adhered to the paper spine to protect against damage due to repeated openings and closings over time. The front and back covers are adhered to heavy (almost card stock) end papers that have then been partially glued to the first and last page of the structure. The cover spine is not attached directly to the structure spine and this acts to facilitate the notebook lying completely flat when open.
It's my practice to begin each new sketchbook with a favorite quote. And, in this case, I chose a short poem by Robert Service, which I penned with my Eversharp Symphony loaded out with J. Herbin Éclat de Saphir. With virtually no pressure applied the pen glided smoothly across the paper and I experienced no signs of feathering. Upon inspecting the reverse side "show-through" was quite clear due to the thinness of the paper but there were absolutely no "bleed-through" areas to be seen.
A clarification and a few reservations
Shoppers may find the TWSBI Notebook's web pages a bit confusing. On one page it is stated that the sheets in all three notebook sizes are perforated (this is incorrect), while in the more details/more info area it is stated that only the small size is perforated (which is correct).
While most (if not all) paper manufacturers today are up front with details concerning specific weight (in pounds per ream, grams per square meter, or both), acid-free status, pH level, fiber type, chlorine status, sustainability, etc., this information (any of this information) is surprisingly absent from TWSBI's website and FB page. I know that archival quality may be of little interest to some users, but to many in both the writing and art communities these are critical considerations. I have enquired regarding these points and am hopeful that TWSBI will be as forthcoming with this information as they have been with all other aspects of customer service in the past. (I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything.)
Update: Philip Wang, at TWSBI USA, returned my email this morning and let me know that "the paper is just between 70 and 80 pounds" but was unable to answer the other questions at this time. Given TWSBI's outstanding reputation for responding to customer feedback (and allowing for the fact that they are the first pen company to venture into the field of paper and notebooks) I wouldn't be surprised if the other information was made available soon.