Less zapp more yapp: A short review of the Rhodia professional series hard back wirebound notebook

a new notebook
a new notebook

Is it Groundhog day? I feel a bit of dejá vu as it were. Some time ago I undertook a review of the Black ‘n Red A5 hardback wire bound notebook (see here) as an example of that series. Little did I know at the time that our friends across ‘la manche’, deep in the underground Rhodia bunker, were preparing to invade this sceptered isle with another range of notebooks that would challenge this series head on. But here they are, bold as brass filling up our shops… Anyhoo I thought I would take a look at them and promptly bought a couple from the nice folk down at Bureau Direct. What I got has left me with somewhat mixed feelings which I thought I would share.

blowing its own trumpet?
blowing its own trumpet?

Format: Thus far I have only used the A5 version of this notebook, although I have also seen the A5 meeting book and the ‘exabook’ which is a loose leaf version of the meeting book. The series includes offerings in A5, A5+,A4  and A4+sizes. In terms of the one I have in hand there is a lot to like about it. It is sturdily attractive with a heavy-duty wire binding. The covers are aesthetically attractive,smooth and well-designed except for one small but to me exceedingly important detail. The lack of yapp. Now what’s yapp you cry? Well very simply it is the amount that the cover of a book extends over the edge of the paper block. In this series there is none whatsoever leaving me with an issue.

the B&R has yapp, the Rhodia no
the B&R has yapp, the Rhodia no

Essentially the edges of the paper feel vulnerable. I know it may be subjective, but I like my ramblings on the inside of a notebook to be well protected by the outside of the book and this just doesn’t work for me. It’s a shame because everything else is good: A good number of pages, great paper,  good ruling width, useful inserts with maps, useful numbers and a personal details page, even a planner is included. But even these inserts look shabby round the edge because of the lack of a millimetre or three of hard board cover overlapping to protect them. The Black ‘n red has yapp, the Rhodia doesnt and suffers for the lack.

writing is a pleasure...
writing is a pleasure…

Paper: I think this is where the Rhodia should excel and indeed it does. It trumpets its premium qualities on the front cover and I have to say there is little to disappoint. The paper is indeed a premium quality 90gsm. It is, as it says, ultra smooth which gives a pleasurable writing experience although for some reason I find it slightly more absorbent than my normal Rhodia paper. Finally it is very white, a visibly brighter white than say other Rhodia product that I have compared it to. But here again it is the detail that in my view lets this notebook down. After two or three test letters on this notepaper (wrote a couple of InCoWriMo letters with it) I consistently encountered a problem with the micro perforations. This surprised me because it is one of Rhodia’s strengths in other notebooks that I possess. But time and again I could not get the paper to tear cleanly, most disappointing,

Value for money: I got this book on a two for one deal, which is excellent but retailing about the £7.50 mark they are nearer the top of the price bracket. In its defence I would say that you are getting a lot of notebook for the money but it’s still expensive enough to make me think twice.

Rhodia of course
Rhodia of course

Summary: I really hope that this range of notebooks does well, they appear to be targeted at the UK business market. This will take it into a head on fight with Black ‘n Red among others. I know which I will probably stick to though I might be open to a change of mind especially if anyone would care to redesign the covers on these notebooks to better protect the edges of the paper.



4 thoughts on “Less zapp more yapp: A short review of the Rhodia professional series hard back wirebound notebook

  1. Thanks for the review. I was considering getting these on that 2 for 1 deal to replace my Black & Red notebook once it runs out. I see your concerns about the lack of room around the edge which is a legitimate concern over time.

    On the other hand my notebook spends most of it’s time on my desk at work, and only rarely gets carried around so the edges getting worn isn’t all that likely. So I might get them, but only because of the special offer. At standard prices I’d probably go for the Black & Red.

    I also saw they’re expanding their range with the “Exabook” which looks like it’s built more for business people who travel more often.

    1. Hmm, thanks for the comment. I guess for me the problem is that even the brand new books I received were showing some wear around the edges, might not be a deal breaker but it would be so easy to fix…

  2. Good review, I’ve been using the Rhodia book for a while now, and the paper quality is far superior to anything else I have used. I use a fountain pen, and there is no bleed, none at all. I didn’t buy my book on offer but it was still cheaper than the Black n Red equivalent. I would suggest to people try it, you won’t be disappointed.

    1. Katharine, thanks for the comment. I’m glad youve had good results, cetianly the performance with a fountain pen was not an issue with me either. Interesting that you say these professional series notebooks have been cheaper than Black’n Red in your experience, it’s certainly true of other Rhodia pads I have but not seen these ones cheaper yet!

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