As with many of my purchases, I came across these notebooks by accident. CIAK is not a brand I was familiar with and after a bit more digging there seems to be a vanishingly small amount of information out there on the Appuntino range (even on the company’s own website). I bought medium and large sized notebooks. This is a review of the medium.
The books come in packs of two and a pair of the medium notebooks will set you back £8.95 (around US$12) from The Journal Shop. I chose Lime and Green for my pair and the colour combination is very pleasant indeed.
CIAK’s definition of medium is 12cm x 17cm, making the books around 3cm bigger than a Field Notes book in both directions. This could restrict their use as genuine pocket notebooks, but mine fit quite nicely in the same pocket of my work bag as my Hobonichi.
What drew me to the books is that they contain dot grid paper (I’m a big fan) – 64 pages in all. I couldn’t find any particular information about the paper in in terms of weight etc., although in my estimate it is lower than 80gsm. If anyone can tell me more about the paper, I’d be happy to hear it and update this post accordingly.
Before I go into more detail on the paper, the covers are worth a comment. The textured outer is soft, with a slightly battered feel to it – far more tactile than a simple card covering. It is laminated to a card inner in a complimentary colour. Rather than being stapled, the books are stitched in contrasting thread which is visible along the spine.
Because of the way the books are bound, they don’t lie flat when opened but are much more compliant once they’ve been broken in. Something further on that binding: I’ve just passed half way in one book and noticed as I type this that one of the knots tying the binding thread has pulled apart. I don’t know if this is a one-off or a common problem, but may be a factor if you are particularly hard on your notebooks.
Now to the important bit, how does the paper perform? In terms of look and feel, it works for me. The paper is a cream/ivory colour, printed with a 5mm dot grid pattern and with rounded corners. The paper is a little softer than Rhodia dot grid paper and much softer than Field Notes paper.
I’ve mainly used fountain pens in these books and I think it’s fair to say that the results haven’t been brilliant. I’ve tried a variety of pen and ink combinations, but the overall trend was towards feathering and show through.
I’ve been considering trialing bullet journaling, and thought I’d use the Appuntino to jot down some notes to help me visualise how bullet journaling might work for me. As you can see in the photograph Noodler’s Squeteague and Bad Belted Kingfisher, along with Pelikan Topaz didn’t fare too well. The pens I used with these inks (MontBlanc, Conklin and Baoer) tend to put down quite a wet line and that certainly didn’t help to limit feathering.
Considering I find the nib to be on the fine side of medium, my Noodler’s Ahab pen also produced a fair amount of feathering with Diamine Damson ink. The least amount of problem came from a Copic Multiliner! You can see from the next photograph just how much show-through there is.
I did some comparison tests with a Field Notes Pitch Black book and got (I think) fairly similar results in terms of feathering. There was less show-through, but I put this down to Field Notes paper being thicker.
After all that, you might think I’d be steering readers away from these notebooks. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to. I really like these notebooks, despite their flaws. It’s hard to express in words, but there is something about these little books that makes me want to take them out and use them. It’s a tactile thing and that trumps the shortcomings, or as I choose to view them – idiosyncrasies.