Notebooks must get nervous when they see me coming. I’m such a Tomoe River snob that I immediately start looking for faults in any other paper.
I know, I know, it’s unfair of me — there are plenty of other important qualities to look for in a notebook.
And so I came with fresh eyes to Legami notebooks, which are available in a range of sizes and bindings from my friends at the Writing Desk. They sent me an A5 exercise book-style notebook to review, specifically the “To Travel Is To Live” edition.
The first thing to note is that these are great value. For just £2.50 you get 80 pages of really heavyweight 100gsm paper, rounded corners, properly thread-stitched binding (not staples), rounded corners and — most interesting of all — a cover that is textured for grip and coated inside and out, so it feels both tough and water-resistant — great for use on cafe tables and for shoving in bags.
I’m not normally a fan of illustrated covers, but I found a few of Legami’s really quite appealing and stylish (what do you expect from a brand from Milan?). As well as the travel-themed cover here, with its retro world map, I found myself drawn to the maths chalkboard, origami animals, and a polka-dot ladybird pattern.
The construction is good. As well as the reassuringly tough covers, the saddlestitching is straight, ruling is straight, and the heavyweight 100gsm paper gives a feeling of robustness (at the expense of easy lay-flat). The only thing that lets the notebook down is slightly dodgy rounded corners, which actually cut slightly into the bottom straight edge of the page.
Inside, the paper is bright white, with 7mm ruling in thin grey lines. The ruling doesn’t reach the edges — there are margins on all four sides. No page numbers or other paraphernalia.
As to writing, the paper has pros and cons.
It’s relatively smooth, but not to the point of waxy gloss, like Rhodia. So nibs won’t catch on tooth, but nor will they skate and hard-start.
I found minimal feathering, only really on my 149 Flex, and that’s due to the nib cutting slightly into the page due to the pressure of flex.
Dry times were good and writing didn’t smudge once dry. Inks shade fairly well on this paper, but I only coaxed sheen from Sailor Irori out of the 13 inks I tried.
Surprisingly for the weight of the paper, I found dots of bleeding at the beginning and end of letters, even with well-behaved inks and medium nibs. And of course you can spot the flex nib…
The bleedthrough isn’t to the point of being unusable unless you are a stickler for that kind of thing, but it’s definitely noticeable in normal use.
I don’t think Legami will tear me away from Tomoe, but I can see them being a hit. The exercise book size is timeless, and with the attractive and robust covers at a bargain price, they’re perfect for daily jottings when out and about, or as stocking-fillers for the non-fountain-pen people in your life.
Grab a couple next time you’re placing an order and see for yourself.