Notebook Review – CIAK Appuntino

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.

Vital Statistics

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.


Textured cover, dot grid paper

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.

In action

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.


Dot grid paper (look hard and you’ll see the pulled thread at the top)

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.


Trying to make sense of bullet journaling – simple!




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.


Show-through on the Appuntino

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.



Field Notes Pitch Black for comparison


Tricky Ahab

In conclusion

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.


What’s in the bag?

I thought I’d kick things off with a look at what accompanies me to work…



My  ‘workhorse’ pens are a TWSBI Vac 700 and a Conklin Duragraph in Cracked Ice finish.  The Vac 700 has so far only been inked with Pilot Iroshizuku kon-peki, but it needs refilling so I’ve cleaned it and will see how it fares with a different ink.  The Duragraph has lived mainly on a diet of J. Herbin Perle Noir, but I’ve recently been trialing another Iroshizuku ink: ku-jaku.

Until recently I hadn’t contemplated the world of vintage pens, but an impulse buy from eBay left me the owner of a slightly dog-eared MontBlanc No. 24.  It’s a piston filler that I  think dates from the 1960s, but I know next to nothing about MontBlancs (never thought I could afford one).  So far I’ve been impressed.

The next pen is both vintage and brand new. Sounds odd, but it’s a 1940’s Eversharp Skyline that never made it out the shop that stocked it.  These pens seem well regarded and the nib supposedly has a bit of flex to it.  I haven’t used it much so far and will write up something more detailed in the near future.

Next up is my collection of Kaweco pens – 2 Liliputs and a Skyline Classic Sport.  The Liliputs are solid brass and copper and I’ve had them a while as you can tell from the patina.  I love these pens, the all metal construction gives these tiny pens some weight.  The Skyline is relatively new and I’m still trying to work it into my pen rotation.


My main journal/notebook is a Hobonichi Techo diary/planner.  I came across this gem a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since.  At present I don’t use mine for much beyond a work diary and planner, but can’t see myself going back to a standard issue diary.  Its major selling point is the Tomoe River paper it’s made from – ultra thin and beautiful to write on.  Even with a leather cover, at a day to a page it’s still less than 2cm thick.

The two green notebooks are CIAK Appuntinos.  I’ve been experimenting with small to medium format notebooks and this pair caught my eye on the Journal Shop website.  Apart from the textured cover, it was the dot grid paper that took my interest.  I’ll write some more detailed thoughts about these books shortly.

Like many people, I was introduced to Midori through their Traveler’s notebooks.  They also produce a range of other notebooks, all on high quality, fountain pen-friendly paper.  I’m attempting to keep a journal and using this A5 MD Notebook to jot down my thoughts.  I went for grid paper rather than ruled.


I’ll confess, I hardly use a pencil these days but I still carry a couple on the off chance I’ll need them.  I bought a Pentel Graphlet for this purpose and then acquired a Uni Kuru Toga M5 from Cult Pens as freebie on top of an order I placed.

Pencil case

My pens and pencils get transported in a Nomadic PN-01 pencil case. For a comparatively simple and straightforward design you can fit a lot in.  I’m still looking for the ideal pencil/pen case, but this does the job for now.