The Rhodia Webnotebook vs Moleskine Journal Showdown10/02/2009
Many journal devotees would agree the Moleskine A6 journal has cachet to spare. So can a newcomer called the Rhodia Webnotebook (a/k/a The Webbie) best it? With certainty in one key category it does but is it enough to make you switch?
When it comes to form, Moleskine is exactly what a journal ought to be. The cover is thin but sturdy, the perfect little black book. The ribbon marker is durable enough and the pocket tucked inside the back cover is convenient for all manner of uses. The elastic band closure fits just right and helps keep goodies tucked tidily between the pages. The cream colored pages with pale gray lines are easy on the eyes and discreet. The Moleskine is a classy-looking journal in every respect.
The Rhodia Webnotebook is similar and certainly gives more than a nod to the venerable Moleskine. Unfortunately, it misses in some small ways but puts the Moleskine to shame in the most important one. More later about that.
Addressing form differences first, the Rhodia cover is thicker, sturdy, rigid, and smooth. The elastic band is tight and left permanent indentations on the front and back covers of the sample I received from Exaclair. There is a pocket attached to the back cover just like the Mole. The inside cover is black with no place to write a name or offer a reward should the journal meet with misfortune. This omission could easily be remedied with a bookplate sticker. The Rhodia does not initially lie perfectly flat like the Moleskine but with use the spine will relax enough to make that less an issue.
The paper is a whole ‘nother subject and in this the Rhodia excels. The images tell the story. The Moleskine paper feathers in places with fountain pen ink but does well with pencil, gel pens, roller balls, and Sharpie Pens (not markers). There is show-through and bleed-through from every fountain pen I used. As one would expect, the finest nibs worked best. Although I didn’t have them on hand to test today, Noodler’s Black or Legal Lapis in a dry Parker ’51′ extra-fine are the best fountain pen and ink duos I’ve ever found for a Moleskine. The Pilot Prera fine nib tested best of the lot this time.
Now for the challenger. The darker cream/gray lined Rhodia paper is thicker, smoother, and absolutely loved nearly everything I threw at it. Finally, double-sided writing is feasible in a small, black journal. No feathering, no bleed-through except with a Sharpie Marker and only the very faintest show-through with anything else.
Prefer fountain pens? This is a match made in heaven at least with the new 90g version. Depending on the ink and pen, drying time can be longer than with the Moleskine but I think it is worth the few-second wait. A piece of blotter paper should eliminate any smearing if that is a concern.
For anything but fountain pens, both the Moleskine and the Rhodia work well. The Sharpie Pen was particularly nice. It didn’t even leave an indentation. For compatibility with fountain pen ink though, the Rhodia Webnotebook easily came out tops. Every pen on my desk worked well including the stub and the free-flowing cursive italic, just the sort of versatility that is perfect for an inkophile.
Update: One of the comments below states that the line spacing is larger in the Webnotebook. A side by side comparison of the 9 x 14 cm sized journals used in my test showed no difference between the two.