Whenever I would read lists of paper and notebooks that people recommend, Graphilo notebooks always seemed to show up. Unfortunately, I was never able to find one when I was out shopping for paper. Although they are available on Amazon, I didn’t want to spend that kind of money just to try out a notebook. Fortunately, when I was at the San Francisco Pen Show last year I finally got my hands on a Graphilo notebook at the Anderson Pens table. They say that good things come to those who wait, and that’s exactly how I feel about this notebook.
Graphilo notebooks are simple yet classy. I purchased the blank notebook, which has a cream colored cover with a debossed silver logo in the upper-right hand corner. The paper is a light cream color that looks like it has a bit of texture. It doesn’t have the super-smooth texture of most Japanese paper. It actually feels more like Midori MD paper. There aren’t any bells or whistles with this notebook, so it’s pretty plain.
Let’s take a closer look at the details for the Graphilo notebook.
- Pages: 64 (32 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 90gsm?
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Lined (8mm), Grid (4mm), Blank
- Size: A5
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: Very High
- Shading: Very High
- Bleeding: None Observed
- Ghosting: Medium
- Feathering: Low
- Dry Time: Very High
- Cardstock cover
- Light cream colored paper
I mentioned that this notebook is very simple, so I don’t have much to say about the extras that are included. To be honest, there aren’t any extras. This is a notebook that is useful as a notebook. The stitch binding should be very sturdy, and while it allows the notebook to be opened flat, it doesn’t stay opened without some encouragement. I think this is because it is essentially one signature and the paper is fairly thick, so it wants to close back up once you open it.
This isn’t a notebook that you buy for the extras. This is a notebook that you buy for the paper. Once I started using it, I understood what all of the fuss was about. This paper is absolutely amazing! The color is a light cream color that some people might consider to be white. It has a bit of texture to it and isn’t super-smooth like most Japanese paper. Writing on it is not a luxuriously smooth experience like the Itoya Romeo paper, but it is still a very nice experience. I usually prefer a bit of feedback when I write, so I love it.
What really makes this paper stand out is how well it handles ink. It has very low feathering, no observed bleeding, and a medium amount of ghosting (I would be fine using both sides of a page), all of which make this a very fountain pen friendly paper. What really makes this paper stand out is how it handles the “fun” properties of ink. It shows incredible sheen. In fact, I observed as much sheen as Tomoe River! Not only that, but it also has some of the best shading I’ve seen in a notebook. The one area that could be better is the dry time, which is very long (again, comparable to Tomoe River).
To recap, the Graphilo notebook is a no-frills notebook that doesn’t have many extras but is attractive and well-made. It would feel right at home in an executive boardroom or on a lawyers desk, but would also be at home in the desk drawer of any fountain pen user out there. What really makes it stand out is the paper. The paper in this notebook is some of the best I’ve ever used. It has the high sheen (and long dry times) of Tomoe River, texture similar to Midori MD, ink handling capabilities similar to both and shading that is superior to either one.
The one downside to these notebooks is the cost. Here in the United States, they are available through a few different online shops (I found them at Vanness and Anderson Pens), but the cost per sheet is around $0.40… twice as much as any other paper I’ve used. This might be too expensive for many people to justify, especially when you can get quality notebooks with over twice as many pages for half of the cost (like the Clairefontaine Basic notebook). But sometimes you want to splurge and buy yourself something special. If you’re a fan of amazing paper and want to treat yourself, I would highly recommend a Graphilo notebook.
If you want to learn a bit more about Graphilo notebooks, you can take a look at the Japanese product page.
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Graphilo Notebook Review
Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating
Pros: Amazing paper with some of the best sheen and shading around
Cons: Expensive and harder to find, very simple
Value Rating: 3.43 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.44
Who this notebook is for: People who want something besides Tomoe River paper
Upgrade to this notebook from: A soft bound Tomoe River notebook
Upgrade from this notebook to: A hard-bound Tomoe River notebook like the Elia Note.
Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.