Review: Made by Foyles terracotta red notebook

I’d wager that most stationery addicts are also rather into books. For me, the joy of  travelling to a city and discovering a new pen shop is squarely matched by that of finding a good bookstore.

I used to be a bookseller, back in the day, so I feel somewhat of a connoisseur of good bookshops. I don’t mind a Waterstones (particularly one in a beautiful old building), but where possible I like something with personality (like my nearby Wallingford Bookshop) or history (like the great Foyles).

I’ve spent many an hour wandering around Foyles in London, so I was excited to have the opportunity to try out one of its new collection of branded A5 notebooks. This is more than brand engineering: the notebooks were designed in-house by Foyles’ own head of design, and made right here in the UK.

Of the four designs I opted for one called ‘Terracotta Red’, which in person precisely lives up to its name: a dusty, brick red.

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It’s accented with a pink page marker;

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‘FOYLES’ is printed in foil on the spine and back cover,

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and a pretty concentric-circle design completes the front cover.

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Inside, the colour scheme continues on the end papers, which rather remind me of the storms of Jupiter. You’ll see what I mean. I really like it.

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Overall this is a gorgeous notebook that is immediately into ‘makes a great gift’ territory.

The covers have a soft-touch finish but are rigid. The covers overhang the pages, so there’s no need for rounded corners. The binding lays flat, too.

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While the covers are beautiful, I found the red finish cracked off around where the covers joined the spine — and after only a couple of days, too. It makes me a little concerned for the long-term durability of the notebook.

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What about the paper?

224 numbered, ruled pages are inside, in a pale ivory colour that I found rather pleasing. The paper’s an FSC-certified mix, feels wonderful under the fingers, and is uncoated.

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Now, here’s where things turn a little pear-shaped, at least as a fountain pen user. The uncoated paper makes for wickedly fast dry times, but it feathers like crazy even with fine nibs.

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You might think I’m being picky and that a bit of feathering never hurt anyone. You might be right, and for notetaking I’m happy to accept the compromise for smudge-free dry times.

But. Turn the page and you’ll find noticeable showthrough and bleedthrough, even though the paper is 100gsm. I have a lot harder time justifying this.

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In my opinion, writing on both sides is a Bad Idea unless you use an extra-fine nib and dry ink (the only pen I was happy doing this with in this trial was my 3776 with ultra extra fine nib and Sailor Kiwa-Guro — it’s the third pen up in the last photo above).

The other effect of the absorbent paper is that it swallows any sheen and shading. Which is a shame. And I’m left scratching my head about how this happened, because in the press photos (above) the books are shown with a Kaweco Sport and a Lamy LX.

So, beautiful notebook, good value at £12.99, with numbered pages and a bookmark, and made in Britain. But (and it’s a huge but for readers of this blog), the paper is unusable for most fountain pens.

If you’d like one of these notebooks for your non-FP writing needs, check the Foyles notebooks here. Or see what other notebooks Foyles sells — including Leuchtturm and Marks — here.

 

Foyles contacted me and offered this notebook for review free of charge. I hope you’ll see that I wasn’t biased by this in any way, but if you have any doubts, check out my ethics page.

4 thoughts on “Review: Made by Foyles terracotta red notebook

  1. Thanks for the review. It’s such a nice-looking notebook, but a shame about the paper. I find it hard to know how to regard books like this. It’s either perfectly fine or a total disaster depending on your writing implement of choice. Those end papers, though – things of beauty.

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    • Yes exactly – makes for a challenging review to write, too! If I wrote with ballpoint or gel pen I’d never have thought to worry about feathering, and I guess that’s what happened during the design process.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said! I agree that the color and design of this notebook are beautiful. It’s a real shame about the quality of the paper, though! I also only write on one side of the page, even with no-show-through paper, I enjoy the pristine quality of a page unmarred by indentations protruding through from the other side. But all that feathering and show-through make this a no-go for me. Period. And I can tell your opinion was not swayed by getting a freebie notebook. Thank you for unbiased reviews; I have come to really enjoy your articles.

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