Leuchtturm appeals to many notebook users because of some neat features other brands don’t include: index pages at the front and pre-numbered pages. I sometimes hand-number my notebook pages, so I can totally appreciate how much time this saves for those who like to keep their notebooks very organized. And though I don’t tend to like notebook pages that are pre-formatted, the numbers are very unintrusive– just a nice small, light-grey number at the bottom corner of each page. The last few pages are perforated.
The pages in this notebook are dot-grid, which I love. Dot grid is a great alternative to lined or squared– it gives you a bit of structure without being too constraining.
Otherwise, this notebook is very similar to other brands in most ways, with the usual elastic closure, back pocket, stamped logo on back cover, ribbon marker, etc. The most obvious difference is the size– for some reason, Germany seems to break with other countries in using 9 x 15 cm as a standard size, rather than 9 x 14. I personally prefer 9 x 14, but perhaps others will like the slightly taller format.
Another handy extra is that a sheet of labels are included for those who want to identify their notebooks on the outside.
Leuchtturm has also become popular due to their paper’s reputed fountain pen friendliness. The paper band around the notebook claims is has ‘ink proof paper.”
When I tested my pens, I immediately noticed an unusual character to the paper. It’s very smooth and somewhat “hard.” All the pen inks seemed to look dark and saturated, and some that usually tend towards feathering, like the Uniball Vision Micro, stayed really tight and solid. I doodled around with my Pigma brush pen because it went on looking almost shiny. There was no feathering at all with my Pilot fountain pen. I don’t test drying times in any methodical way, but my impression was that they might be a little longer on this paper. The paper does perform very well in terms of bleed-through, but I found there was more show-through than I’d expected. The paper weight was not specified on this notebook, though I have been told that Leuchtturm increased the paper weight in their notebooks a while ago– I haven’t tested a current US model, so I’m not sure if what I experienced is typical. One other thing I noticed is that the dots themselves seem to resist ink a bit.
All in all, although I personally don’t like the tall shape, it’s a very nice notebook– feels well-made and adds just enough extra features to distinguish it from the crowd, while keeping the suggested retail price for the pocket size at $12, same as Moleskine. Other sizes and colors are available– check out Leuchtturm’s website, or that of their US distributor, Kikkerland, to see their growing product line, which includes cahier-style notebooks, reporter notebooks, and a version bound in real leather.