PAPER REVIEW and COMPARISONS: Apica Premium C. D. A5 Notebook

Apica Premium C. D. A5 Notebook Review and Comparison to Clairefontaine
There is a plastic protective cover that doesn’t seem like it’s meant to stay on the book. You could leave it on there with no trouble, but taking it off (to remove the paper insert, for example) and replacing it later could cause the cover to tear because it’s super-thin. The book looks better without the plastic, too. 
The cover is heavyweight slightly textured paper.  The title is embossed and the word “premium” is stamped in gold foil.  
The pages are squared (rather than rounded) and binding is sewn (rather than stapled).  
Some people prefer rounded corners because they may show less wear and tear over time. I like the look of square corners, especially in thicker books. Sewn binding is more expensive to produce than other types of binding – it looks better and it helps the book lay-flat.
Choose the paper like you would a good pen.
This A5 notebook came to me via Goulet Pens.  They sent it to me in exchange for my honest review. Goulet has this notebook listed at $16.20. Apica makes other notebooks, too – they are not all made with the same “A. Silky 865 Premium” paper.
The Apica A5 has 96 sheets of paper. That’s 192 pages to write on if you write on the fronts and backs of pages.
The first page of the book is a gray title/index page. Definitely a premium touch that most other notebooks don’t have.
Nearly lay-flat binding.

But what you really want to know about is the paper itself, right?

The paper feels so smooth. It’s buttery, luxurious, and definitely, absolutely premium. The color is a very light ivory and the lines are gray. Very easy on the eyes. Ahhhh.
I compare it below to my everyday use paper – Clairefontaine 80gsm.

Apica . . .

Clairefontaine . . .

Apica . . .

Clairefontaine . . .

 Because the paper is so smooth and almost (but not quite) feels glossy, I was concerned that smearing would be a Major Issue. Here’s a comparison . . .

Apica . . . 

Clairefontaine . . .

Apica . . .

 Clairefontaine . . .

The Apica paper in this notebook feels better (more silky smoothness) than Clairefontaine and that made the writing experience better than on Clairefontaine. I love it and will definitely use the notebook I received.

Inks look brighter on the white white paper of Clairefontaine, but they look richer on Apica. 

There was very little ghosting and no bleed through with either paper. 

Dry times seem comparable, too.

Here’s the complete Apica test sheet.  Click here for the huge full-size image . . .

And here is the complete Clairefontaine test sheet.  Click here for the huge full-size image . . . 

Clairefontaine in the A-5 clothbound version comes in at $9.50 for the same number of pages. The cover isn’t as fancy, and the paper may not feel quite as smooth, but if you’re looking for bang for your buck, I’d tell you to get Clairefontaine.

If you’re looking for a very special notebook, though, get the Apica Premium. You really and truly will not be disappointed. The silky paper is like no other paper I’ve used.

Last week, I asked on Instagram which papers people love – and which they use.  If I’ve managed to embed this link correctly, you should be able to clicky click and be taken directly to that post to see the responses. (And if I didn’t embed it correctly, you’ll know that I’m not a perfect person.)


And finally, let me ask you . . . which paper do you most love? which paper do you use most? Do you prefer clothbound or wire binding?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with a Giveaway. Stay tuned . . .


REVIEW: Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio

Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio

Happy Monday!
As you saw in my LA Pen Show Shopping Spree post, one of the beauties I came away with was the Franklin-Christoph Command Center Folio pictured above. (As usual, click on the image or the caption to see the full-sized image.)
After having used the Folio, I’m here to says that I love it. Big love. The components are the high-quality you’d expect from F-C. The leather is thick, soft, and luxurious. The stitching is just about perfect in every area of the book. If you happen to have a Penvelope, the leather and fabric will be quite familiar to you. 
Let’s take a closer look . . . 
FC Command Center Folio – Opened View
On the left, there is a good-sized pocket/flap. The area under the flap is fabric. I’m told that this area can hold an iPad Mini. I don’t have one of those, but I know that it can hold a Kindle quite comfortable. I’ve used this area for boarding passes and to hold folded sheets of paper. If I had one wish for the flap, it would be that it had a couple of slots for credit or business cards.
On the right is place for a notebook – I chose a book with binding on the left, but the Command Center can also hold a top-bound notebook.
To the far right are the pen loops. Two loops to hold your favorite pen securely. The leather parts of the loops are showing, the underside features elastic and I’m glad to report that it holds all pen sizes quite nicely. Compare this with the Midori pen loop and, really, there is no comparison – Franklin- Christoph really wins big in this area.
Franklin-Christoph Command Center Elastic Band
The elastic band (see the first image above) is wide and feels very snug and secure.
I’m a tiny bit concerned that it could eventually pull away from the Folio. However, F-C is known to make high-quality products and also known to stand behind them.
Time will tell!
Moving on . . . 
The back features a zippered compartment

The zippered compartment was described as able to hold an iPhone. Yes, it will hold an iPhone, but it feels like that is stretching the limit of that pocket and made me a little concerned about the having a problem with the zipper down the road. In time, I think the leather would give a bit and more easily accommodate something like an iPhone. For now, I’ve used it to hold a few dollar bills, my drivers license and some receipts.

Gussetted Compartment

Iconic Franklin-Christoph Cut Corners
Continuing . . .
I was happily surprised to learn that I could choose a notebook to go with the Folio
The cut corners on the notebook and folio are not just a nifty design element, they are also intended to keep corners from bending and becoming worn.
So . . . the Franklin-Christoph Notebook isn’t perfect. I am 100% sure they’d replace it if I brought it up with them. However, it’s the Folio I was after, the Notebook was a bonus.
Another issue with the notebook
I should have looked at the notebook as closely as I checked over the folio. This one had probably been handled by others (though it was behind their tables at the show) before it found its way to me.
Another reason I didn’t bring this up with Franklin-Christoph . . . 
Franklin-Christoph Notebook
Franklin-Christoph Notebook Paper with Purple Tint
Above is a picture of the Franklin-Christoph Notebook paper with a piece of nice quality white paper under. As you can see, the F-C has a purple tone to it.  I don’t personally like this quality in the paper. 
Franklin-Christoph Folio with Clairefontaine Top-Bound Notebook
In the end, I decided to go with a top-bound notebook from Clairefontaine. Here’s why: the top-bound notebook can be pulled out just a bit and then the cover flipped over – flip the left side of the folio behind and I have a more compact solution. (I hope that made sense – it sounds complicated, but it definitely isn’t.)
I use (and seriously love) the folio everyday. It was just what I needed to organize my on-the-go writing.
Mine is the A5 Medium in Black and Brown. There are other options available at this link.
One final note – I won, I won!  When we were at the LA Pen Show, Franklin-Christoph had a drawing and I managed to win! The drawing was for $100 off any purchase. It’s going to be a few weeks before what I want is back in stock – I can’t wait to show you!
What would you do with $100 from F-C?