Moleskine Volant notebooks going away?

I have to say I’m both surprised and a bit disappointed. A long while ago I bought a pack of Moleskine Volant notebooks. I was in Italy, and they were sitting near the register at a book store. Here in the US they are impossible to find in a store at all, so I bought them. They sat unused for a long while until I filled the notebook I was using and decided to give them a try. I kind of like them.

Because they are thin, they fill up quickly which reduces the amount of pocket rash they accumulate. While they don’t have the band or placeholder ribbon, they are pretty durable and write fairly well. All the pages in the second half of the book are perforated, despite the ad-copy that suggests only the last quarter of the pages are perforated (“Each with 64 paper pages….The last 16 sheets are detachable”). I’m not sure how well those pages will stand up, but I’ll know soon.

Anyway, I liked them enough to go to order more. I prefer the plain pages, but they are no longer on the website. The have only the ruled and address styles, not even grid.

Are the Volant notebooks going away?

Pen Review: Namiki Vanishing Point

Realizing I can’t review only ballpoint pens, I decided to review the Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen. If you are someone who uses fountain pens, especially if you need one you can carry reliably, the Namiki is for you. These are the only retractable fountain pens out there, and they write wonderfully.

Namiki pens 003

The pen can be filled via cartridge or converter, but I use cartridges because a) Namiki ink is among the most waterproof and fade resistant, b) I can carry spare cartridges a lot easier than an ink pot, and c) Who doesn’t love Pilot-Blue ink?

The pen is fairly comfortable to hold, with the pocket clip aligning the pen into proper writing position. I don’t care for the ultra smooth gripping surface – a matte surface would be easier to hold on to, although probably not as attractive. The clicker mechanism is not very quiet, but has a solid, positive feel to it. There is a sort of trap door that seals the nib from the outside, with the idea of keeping it moist and ready to write. It mostly works really well – too well, as it’s easy to forget to empty this pen if it’s going to be left unused for a while.

When then pen is opened, there is a central portion that is the nib and ink feed, with the cartridge or converter attached. No other parts come out of the pen, and the architecture makes it easy to swap nibs and bodies if you have more than one. I have the feaux carbon fiber, and an older green one, with one medium and one fine nib. The fine is very fine, and the medium is more like a fine in other brands.

The reveal is a tad too short – it can be difficult to grab the pen out of a tight sleeve or pocket, but most of the time this isn’t a problem. The clip is a simple spring style, but has pretty good grip if not much capacity. It certainly seems strong enough, and I’ve had no problems with it loosening.

I love my Namiki’s, and will never sell them. They’re great writers and are easy to carry. The only downside is that, being fountain pens, they don’t write on many kinds of paper you commonly run across in daily life. However, for serious note-taking, nothing beats a fountain pen for reducing hand fatigue. If you are looking for a reasonably priced (~$100) fountain pen and would prefer something simple to own, try a Namiki Vanishing Point.