Nuuna notebooks remained a bit of a mystery to me until recently. They don’t seem to be very popular in the States, so I’m sorry to say that I’d never even heard of them. Someone commented on a blog post suggesting I try them, which first brought them to my attention. Then I noticed that someone I follow on Instagram uses them for her bullet journals. At a certain point, I feel like I started noticing them everywhere, so I decided to add one to my cart the next time I placed an order with Vanness, as they are one of the only US-based retailers I could find that sells Nuuna products.
Please read my addendum in the conclusions section before purchasing a notebook!
Talk about a notebook! Wow, these things are substantial. Dense might be a better word. It is basically a solid block of paper. And what paper it is! Weighing in at 120gsm, this paper is no joke. The cover is pretty nice as well. Mine is the “Jeans Label” material, which is similar to the material jeans labels are made of, but there are a variety of other cover materials as well. At first touch I’m hooked.
- Pages: 256 (128 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 120gsm
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Grid, Dot (2.5mm or 3.5mm), Blank
- Size: Approximately A4, A5, A6
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: Average
- Shading: Average
- Bleeding: Very Low
- Ghosting: Very Low
- Feathering: Low
- Dry Time: Low
- Unique cover graphics that extend onto the notebook edges
- Colored paper available in some notebooks
- 100% vegan
- Uncoated paper
Before I get too far into the review, I want to mention the different sizes that are available. Nuuna has a confusing naming system, using physical size terminology instead of typical paper sizes. Still, once you figure it out it’s not too hard to understand.
- XL = 210x297mm (A4 = 210×297)
- L = 165x220mm (A5 = 148×210)
- M = 135x200mm (A5 = 148×210)
- S = 108×150 (A6 = 105×148)
There are some other sizes available as well, such as M Cross (landscape orientation), L Light (fewer pages), and XL Square (square).
So now let’s talk about the notebook. As you probably gathered, it makes a great first impression. The cover material, at least the Jeans Label cover, has a nice feel to it. It’s not exactly smooth, but it does have a bit of texture to it, similar to the label on your jeans I suppose! The covers come in different materials if you prefer, but I haven’t had the opportunity to handle them. Rounded corners, as well as a rounded spine and flush-cut covers, give the notebook a sleek and substantial look and feel.
The cover design of Nuuna notebooks is quite unique. There are a large number of different designs to choose from and on some, any graphics that are on the cover wrap from front to back and even along the edges of the notebook! This is fairly unique in the world of fountain-pen-friendly notebooks, both the number of designs and the whole-notebook wrap.
Let’s move on to the notebook features, of which there are surprisingly few. Inside each cover you’ll find heavy, black endpapers that continue the great impression made by the exterior of the notebook. Each page is individually numbered, making it a great option for a bullet journal. And that’s just about it! There’s no index, no page-marking ribbons, rear pocket or elastic closure.
The notebooks come in a few different page layouts. The most common seems to be dot grid, of which most come in a 3.5mm version. Many also come in an even smaller 2.5mm dot grid! A number of options come with blank pages, in either white or colored paper. Only one notebook on the Nuuna site is listed with gridded paper. But let’s talk about the 3.5mm dot grid for a minute. It is small! Most notebooks come with a 5mm dot grid pattern, so this is noticeably smaller. I don’t know if it will be a deal breaker or a welcome change, but it’s certainly different from the norm.
Now let’s talk about the paper itself. According to the Nuuna website, the paper is uncoated and comes from sustainably managed forests (sustainability seems to be a big part of the company ethos). If you’re a fan of Japanese paper, you may already know that most of it is coated with some sort of sizing that affects how well ink absorbs into the paper. Uncoated paper does not have sizing applied to it, so you may notice that this paper has a slightly different feel and performance than many other papers that you’ve tried.
In my tests, I found this paper to be very high performing. It shows good sheen and shading, has no noticeable bleed through or ghosting (not a surprise given that this paper weighs in at 120gsm) and has very little feathering. It also has fantastic dry times, which is quite unusual for a paper with so many other ink-friendly qualities.
Overall use of the notebook is mostly enjoyable with a few exceptions. The packaging claims that it will lay flat due to the stitch binding, but I found that the rounded cover material on the spine tends to bow outwards, preventing it from laying flat without some pressure being applied. Even then, it doesn’t easily stay open. I imagine that with some use the spine will break in and it won’t be an issue, but it doesn’t lay flat as easily out of the package as something like a Midori MD notebook does. The high page count also means that your hand will encounter a “cliff” near the edge of the notebook due to how thick it is.
Added 7/28/21: Before you get to my original conclusions, I do want to mention that some readers have had very bad experiences with Nuuna notebooks. Apparently, the paper quality can vary greatly from notebook to notebook. If you decide to purchase one, please know that it may or may not be comparable to the notebook that I tested in this review, so proceed with caution.
Nuuna notebooks are undeniably a quality product. In a world of simple notebooks, their design lets them stand out and gives users many different ways to express themselves. I am very impressed with them, both the notebooks and the paper inside of them. Despite not immediately not laying flat, the notebooks have a lot going for them. While not everyone will love the small 3.5mm dot grid, I don’t think that it will be a deal breaker for most. I ended up using two dots per line and found that I really like that line spacing. They certainly are not inexpensive and can be difficult to find, but if you like big, unique notebooks full of quality paper, you should definitely make it a point to give a Nuuna Flexcover notebook a try.
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Nuuna Flexcover Notebook
Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating
Pros: Great paper, numbered pages, many unique cover designs and materials
Cons: Expensive, small grid size, hard to find
Value Rating: 3.57 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.27
Who this notebook is for: Bullet journalers and anyone who wants a notebook that’s not boring
Upgrade to this notebook from: Leuchtturm1917
Upgrade from this notebook to: Musubi