Rhodia Rhodiarama... or is it a Webbie?

by Amanda Fleet

I don't know the answer to that. Sometimes Rhodia calls their notebooks 'Webbies' (webnotebooks) but the branding on the one I'm wittering about today is Rhodiarama...

I'm a big fan of Rhodia notebooks, but I have two bug-bears with them, so let me get those over and done with first.

1) Plastic. I am trying hard to reduce the amount of plastic I buy/use, as the vast majority of plastic in circulation either can't be recycled, or can be recycled yet somehow isn't. My Rhodia came shrink-wrapped in not just one but two thin plastic wrappings, with no indication of whether the plastic can be recycled or not. The two wrappings seemed to be of different plastics - the inner one being thicker than the outer. The cover of the book is also non-biodegradable, as far as I can tell, which is a shame.

2) The ribbon bookmark. I have quite a few Rhodia notebooks and not a single one of them has a decent length bookmark. I don't know why, but the company seems to think that only having a maximum of 2cm of ribbon peeking out of the bottom is enough. It isn't. As soon as the ribbon is on a slight diagonal, it disappears inside the book.

Okay, bug-bears over. Let me talk about why I like Rhodia notebooks. Naturally, it's for the paper! I mean, a good-looking notebook with rubbish paper is... well... rubbish. The Rhodia are good-looking notebooks with fabulous paper.

As Scrib pointed out in his post on the notebooks, the paper really is amazing. It's Clairefontaine, 90 gsm ivory paper and in the book I'm reviewing it is plain. I tend to prefer lined notebooks, but the paper, despite being gloriously fountain-pen friendly (and other pen- and pencil-friendly too) isn't so opaque that a line-card can't be seen through it. Despite being so fountain-pen friendly, there is very little show-through and no feathering or bleeding (entirely as you would expect from Clairefontaine paper).

The ivory is a little too dark for me to use this as a sketch-book, and to be honest, the paper doesn't have quite enough 'tooth' to it to make pencil-sketching a great experience (at least, not for this very amateur sketcher), but it excels as a general notebook. The fountain-pen users will love it, but those preferring a ball-point or gel pen etc will also find the writing experience a good one.

There's no index/table of contents section and the pages aren't numbered, but there is a gusseted pocket in the back cover, and the orange elastic closure is a smart contrast to the navy cover. The notebook is just shy of true A5 size, at 14 cm x 21 cm which is a handy size for bag/briefcase. The hard cover means that they can stand a bit of bashing without looking scuffed or tatty. Opened out, there's a decent space to write, without taking up too much real estate on a desk.

Overall, I think these are great notebooks. Just make the ribbon marker a shade longer!

Available in a range of cover colours here.