Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: Quo Vadis Small Blank Habana - Anise Green

This is a review of the small Quo Vadis Habana in anise green with blank paper.

IMG_0915 ResizedFeatures (from Quo Vadis):

- 85 g, ivory paper with satin smooth finish
- 80 sheets
- Acid-free and pH neutral for long preservation
- Firm leather-like cover
- Sewn binding for extra security and flexibility
- Inner pocket for notes and cards
- Elegant round corners
- Matching elastic closure
    Two sizes:
        4 x 6 3/3 (pocket)
        6 1/4 x 9 1/4 (large)

Rulings: Lined or Blank
Colors: Black, Anise Green, Red, Raspberry

Other than the paper, nothing about Habanas has changed. Habanas still have the semi-flexible leather-like covers like the last model, elegant rounded corners, an inner pocket, matching elastic enclosure, and a bookmark. They have a sewn binding that is flexible and allows the notebook to lay flat, and prevents any pages from falling out. The paper is still acid-free and pH neutral for archiving and documenting important things.
IMG_0959 Resized
I barely flattened the spine and it sat pretty flat. No complaints here.
I bought the smaller Habana to test because I was trying to save a few dollars, though I absolutely love the larger size. I really like the design of these notebooks. They are well constructed and nice to look at. All notebooks should be able to lay flat so in this regard, I think the Habana wins over the Webbie. I love that the elastic enclosure is securely tucked into the notebook, unlike my recent experience with the Piccadilly Essential Notebook.
Habanas Comparison Size Resized
Bottom to top: Large Habana + 90g white paper, Small Habana + 85g ivory paper, A6 Rhodia Webbie
Remember when it was announced that the Quo Vadis Habanas would be changed from the delectable 90g bright white paper to the 85g ivory paper? I panicked and wanted to stock up on the bright white Habanas before they were forever lost to the world of ivory. I don’t dislike ivory paper, but the Rhodia Webbies already have ivory paper and I liked having variety. I don't really understand why they switched to ivory when the Webbie already holds the ivory paper market.

I tried to open this one up without any judgment against the paper, I swear. I was pretty sure going from 90g to 85g wouldn't make a big difference in the paper's performance. Sadly, I don't think the 85g ivory paper performs as well as the 90g white.
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Gel ink and liquid ink pens were easily tolerated by the paper. I felt a tiny bit more feedback from the paper when writing with gel and liquid ink pens and I don't think that's a bad thing. It offers a bit more control and feels less slippery, especially with pens that have slick ink like the Pentel Oh! gel pen. 
 Writing Samples Resized
It was pretty obvious to me that there was a lot more show through of inks on the ivory paper than there is on the white paper. I doubt this is a result of the 5g weight difference alone. I think the paper color may have something to do with it as well and both of these factors combined yield more show through. Fortunately, like its predecessor, I did not experience any bleed through in the ivory papered Habana so it's safe to say this notebook is still fountain pen friendly. And even though the ivory paper is satiny smooth, the white paper is so smooth that it's practically glossy. It gives stark contrast to any color of ink and makes them look outstanding. I miss that.
FP inks Resized
Ink sampling with a Rohrer & Klingner glass dip pen. I removed excess ink from the nib. It writes like a M-B. Showthrough is obvious. Tiny bits of bleeding where I accidentally blobbed a giant blob of ink so I don't count that. That would result in bleeding through any paper. Bleed through on the left is from a Sakura IdentiPen (like a Sharpie).
IMG_1028 Resized
Bottom to top: Habana + 90g white paper, Habana + 85g ivory paper. Those are ink swabs on the white paper compared to scribbles from a glass dip pen on the ivory paper. The swabs show up even less than the scribbles do!
This isn’t enough a reason to make me dislike Habanas. I think they come in the perfect sizes, and they’re not too thick (so my ADD doesn’t kick in while halfway through the notebook, and then I still have another 100 pages to fill). It’s so well put together and fun to write in that I always want to have one with me. And the paper is still nice, it's just not as incredible as it used to be.

And you know what else I love? This company. Being green and ecoconscious is really important to me. I mentioned in my review of the older Habana that the bright white paper color was achieved using calcium carbonate, not chlorine, which can be pretty nasty on the environment. Plus, the journals are made in the USA, which means less transport costs and energy is used to get it to you! But it’s not just that, Quo Vadis goes above and beyond! You can read about their green practices, the paper's PEFC certification, and some more factory practices. This is impressive stuff.

I feel good supporting a company that is trying to be green. And, as if I needed another reason to love Quo Vadis, I recently discovered the Quo Vadis Forest. A portion of Habana sales in the U.S and Europe will go to building this forest of 100,000 trees in the Dosso Plantation in Niger. Check it out here. That is a classy move, Quo Vadis!
IMG_0952 Resized
How vile. Sorry for the terribly yellow picture. This was done with a Uni-ball Signo Scents in blueberry.
Any downsides to the Habanas?

Well, they are pretty pricy. And I’m pretty sure they just underwent a price increase for 2012. The small size is ~ $15.25 and the larger, ~$23.00. That’s quite a bit for 80 sheets of paper. I use mine only for special purposes and really nice pens and inks so I can get them to last, but if you try to use yours for everything... it’s gonna add up! That’s a bummer. It's still not enough to turn me away though. I just use mine carefully. And I do prefer the white paper.

Meander over to some other great reviews:
Ink Nouveau
BTI Books
Note Booker, Esq.

Price
Goulet Pens - $15.25
Writer’s Bloc - $14.25

Overall
Ever since I won my first Habana, I have loved these notebooks. It is a high quality notebook and although the 85 g paper switch is a downgrade, I'm pleased with the paper overall. And, despite the price increase, I still want to support this company. It makes me so happy that Quo Vadis is making so much effort to be ecologically kind. I know I’m paying a premium for this product because of all the practices behind it (plus the fact that it’s just awesome), but I can live with that. I want Quo Vadis to know they have customers who really appreciate their green practices.

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