first second glance, the Endless Recorder looks like many other A5 hardcover notebooks, with faux leather covers in a range of relatively muted colours. (The first glance highlights a cream coloured drawstring bag that holds the book.) What (hopefully) sets the Recorder apart from the also-fans is that they’re put together around Tomoe River paper. This paper has something between cult and legendary status in the fountain pen world but, even with some recent entrants to the market, there are still relatively few makes of Tomoe River-based notebooks out there (check out GLP Creations and Taroko Designs for some alternative offerings).
It’s hard these days to be truly innovative when it comes to design and construction of notebooks, and the Recorder follows a pretty well tried and tested design. The faux leather hard cover I mentioned earlier comes embossed with the company logo on the front and “ENDLESS” on the back. It’s all done quite subtly and without ostentation. This leads quite nicely to the end papers, which feature an open dot layout with a blank space to fill in with the details of your choice, There is also a repeat of the Endless logo, which adds a touch of class.
Perhaps it won’t set the world alight, but it makes the Recorder smart and subtle enough for use in a work setting, but the design accents are well executed and should satisfy the stationery aficionado.
The business end of the book is made up of small, thread-bound signatures, which help the book to open flat without the need to resort to coercion or physical violence. Page corners are rounded (as are the corners of the cover). There is a pocket inside the back cover. It seems to be de rigeur for this type of notebook, but I can’t recall the last time I actually used one in a notebook. The pocket is worth exploring when you get your Recorder, because there’s a small goody in there (I won’t give the game away) along with some promotional material.
There is no index and pages aren’t numbered, but I don’t find it that much of a chore to make my own index and number pages as I go.
The ribbon and elastic closure come in a pleasantly contrasting turquoise colour. I bought two Recorders, one in dark blue and one in red, and the ribbon and elastic are the same colour in both books.
The paper itself
There’s not much more to say about Tomoe River paper that hasn’t already been said. In the case of the Endless Recorder, you get the thicker 68gsm paper, rather than the 52gsm you’ll find in things like the Hobonichi Techo or Seven Seas notebooks. It takes pretty much any ink you care to throw at it from any width of nib, without feathering or bleed-through. The coating means that dry times are not particularly quick, and I tend to have a piece of blotting paper to hand when I’m writing my journal. It will also come as no surprise that there is some show-through, but this is just something you have to embrace if you’re going to write on Tomoe River paper. It’s certainly less noticeable with the 68gsm than with the 52gsm paper.
The paper in the Recorder is off-white. I bought mine from Pen Venture in Romania, which gave me the choice of either blank or with a dot grid layout. I bought dot gridded ones. I used to think that dot grids were the best layout since whatever the last best layout was. Over time, I’m less convinced of this, particularly when I’m using it for journaling. I can see the merits in some applications, but I’m starting to come back to ruled or even blank for journaling. If you buy the blank notebook, you get a guide sheet included. If I buy any more Recorders I might well try the blank version.
If you buy direct from Endless Works you get a choice of 4 layouts – blank, ruled, grid and dot.
I paid around €24 for each book from Pen Venture, rather than the £18 that Endless Works charge if you buy direct. My reasoning was that buying from mainland Europe would be cheaper and less hassle than buying from the US. It may have been less hassle, but my only option was some DHL priority service which added substantially to my bill. Maybe I’ll buy direct from the US next time.
Practicalities of ownership
I’ve finished one of the two books I bought and didn’t experience any major issues. I found that there was a little bit of lift on one corner of the cover material cover where it’s gathered and folded over. My Endless Recorder didn’t travel further than between my desk and the living room sofa, but if you were to take it further afield maybe this points to it being a bit less durable than desired. The ribbon page marker has also ended up looking a little fluffy and ragged. This doesn’t bother me too much, but if you like a book that remains pristine looking through thick and thin, you might want to think more carefully.
Beyond that I had no issues with the Endless Recorder. The book opened flat and the binding has never shown any indication of falling apart. I mentioned the absence of page numbers or an index. In practice, most notebooks I’ve ever bought haven’t had page numbers or an index and I haven’t felt like there has been a hole in my life as a consequence.
The Tomoe River paper does its job as you might expect. I experienced no problems beyond the show-through, which I was expecting.
It’s not a criticism of Endless, but I wish someone would take this approach to notebooks, but with the 52gsm Tomoe River instead. Whether it’s a cost thing or the sheer hassle of dealing with a paper that creases when you look at it, I don’t know, but I can’t believe there wouldn’t be a demand for it.
I’d certainly buy some.
Since I published this post, Endless Works got in touch to let me know that they’ve recently updated the Recorder so that it now has an index and numbered pages. There is also a block of perforated pages that allow you to remove them easily, if needed. I’m happy to set the record straight. 😀