If there is one notebook that has recently attained cult status, it’s the Midori MD Cotton notebooks. Midori recently changed their sizing from standard A-sizing (A4, A5, A6) to a new and unconventional sizing they call F-sizing (F0, F2, F3). The “F” is supposed to stand for “Figure” and the sizes are created around the Golden Ratio. In addition to the sizes changing, the prices also changed by going up. This caused a run on the A-sized notebooks, with most retailers quickly selling out and prices on remaining notebooks skyrocketing.
So what’s the big deal about Midori Cotton paper? Is it really any different than regular Midori MD paper? Is it worth buying an old A5 notebook or will an F0 be just as good? Let’s take a look and see what the fuss is all about.
My initial impressions of this notebook? It’s the same as a regular Midori MD notebook. I didn’t have a moment like when Harry Potter first held his wand and golden light appeared while his hair blew backwards. It’s just another notebook. In every way, other than the color of the paper and the very subtle “cotton” marking on the front and inside the front cover, it’s indistinguishable from any other Midori MD notebook. Maybe once I start to use it I’ll see why everyone loves them.
All info in this review is for the A5 notebook. The new F-sizes have a different number of pages (200) and different pricing.
- Pages: 176 (88 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 68gsm?
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Lined, Grid, Blank
- Size: A4, A5, A6
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: Low
- Shading: Low
- Bleeding: Low
- Ghosting: High
- Feathering: Very Low
- Dry Time: Medium
- Page marker ribbon
- Label stickers
- Paraffin cover
I sat down with this notebook and a pen in my hand, expecting to have the same experience as writing in any other Midori MD notebook. Don’t get me wrong… I love the regular notebooks. I use them for my bullet journal and for some of my doodling notebooks. They are fantastic. With that being said, as soon as I started writing on the cotton paper I understood what the big deal is.
It’s soft! This paper is some of the softest, most luxurious paper I’ve written on! To my knowledge, while there are options to buy loose-leaf cotton paper, this is pretty much the only cotton-based paper notebook around. If you’re used to writing on Japanese papers, you’re probably used to good sheen, longer drying times and super-smooth surfaces. This paper is like no Japanese paper I’ve ever used. Is it luxurious? You bet. Does my fountain pen still glide across its surface? It does! Does it perform like regular Midori MD paper? Not exactly.
There is no denying that this paper is very fountain pen friendly. With that being said, it isn’t the highest-performing paper out there. Having a 20% cotton content doesn’t just make it feel softer to write on. It also makes it more absorbent, which means less sheen and shading. Dry times are not too bad and I didn’t see any feathering, but did experience a bit of bleeding with heavy applications of ink, something I’ve never had an issue with during normal writing in a regular MD notebook. Ghosting is also higher than I’d like.
All other aspects of this notebook were the same as the regular Midori MD. The stitch binding, unique spine and high number of signatures help it to easily open and lay flat.
The thing is, you don’t buy this paper because it is a high performer. You buy it to write on and to have a luxurious writing experience. Inks still look fantastic on it. Pens still write great on it. I’m sure that if you write with pencils, they’ll feel great on it as well. Bonus points: if you’re not a fan of the slight green tint that regular Midori MD paper has, the cotton is a regular cream color.
Fountain pen people can be pretty obsessive over unusual things. Online communities can also drive some slightly-crazy group behavior, which is what I think happened with the Midori MD Cotton notebooks in the A-sizes. Sure, no one likes to pay more than they used to and if you’ve already invested in a notebook cover, you don’t want to buy a new one because your favorite notebooks aren’t made in that size anymore. Still, is the Midori MD Cotton paper worth all of the fuss people made about it? I don’t think so. It is some great paper that is very pleasant to write on. If you get a chance to try it out, take it and decide for yourself. Just don’t overpay for an A5 notebook when the new sizes are widely-available.
If you want to give the cotton paper a try but don’t want to buy a weird-sized notebook, consider picking up a pad of the Midori MD Cotton writing paper.
I did a quick calculation of the new notebook’s cost per sheet. The F2, which is very close to the dimensions of a B5 notebook, costs $24. At 100 sheets, that’s $0.24/sheet. The smaller F0, which is definitely smaller than an A5, is $0.16/sheet, or about the same as the A5 cotton notebooks used to be. As you can see, we are now paying more per sheet than before the new sizing rolled out.
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Midori MD Cotton Notebook Review
- Sheen (higher is better)
- Shading (higher is better)
- Bleeding (higher is better)
- Ghosting (higher is better)
- Feathering (higher is better)
- Dry Time (higher is better)
Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating
Pros: Very soft, luxurious paper, Midori quality
Cons: More expensive than regular Midori MD, not as high-performing
Value Rating: 2.86 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.17
Who this notebook is for: People who want a luxurious writing experience in a notebook
Upgrade to this notebook from: This is unique enough one could argue that it’s an upgrade from any notebook.
Upgrade from this notebook to: Maybe a custom or handmade journal?