Review: Rhodiarama softcover notebook

This will be a short post. I’ve reviewed the Rhodia webnotebook previously, you may find my thoughts on the webnotebook by clicking here. The only difference between this book and the webnotebook is the soft cover replacing the hard cover. The paper is identical, i.e. excellent.

The same

Same high quality paper. I love Rhodia’s paper, great for any pen type. One interesting property I wish I had not discovered is how well it holds up to spills. On my first day with this book I spilled coffee on my desk, swamping the bottom right quarter of the active page. I quickly wiped the page to get rid of the coffee, realising too late that I was rubbing too hard. I had rubbed off the top layer of the page itself, leaving behind a rougher surface. Once dried I continued to use the book as normal and, on hitting this damaged section, found very little deterioration in the writing performance. If it were not for the rough feel of the page and missing dots in parts I would find it very difficult to find where I spilled the coffee.

Same paper options. Lined, dot, or blank. For me, dots are the only way. Great flexibility of options. I have seen complaints out there that the dots are too intrusive, being too large and dark but I do not feel this way. They are there, certainly, but I do not feel that they take over in any way.[1]

Same inner rear envelope. Yep, the expandable envelope for loose paper, business cards, or other small things is here. I don’t really use it. The envelope adds some stiffness to the rear cover.

Same ribbon. One ribbon, does the job. It’s lighter than the ribbon in the webnotebook and is orange, not black. Not sure if that lightness is just due to a change in material used or if it was a conscious decision to make a lighter ribbon. Not a problem either way, it marks the page.

The cover

Rhodiarama Sapphire softcover A5. Poor lighting helps bring out wear and tear.

Soft, soft, the cover is soft. The material has that same “leatherette” feel which I quite like but has lost the bulk. The cover now matches the dimensions of the paper within the book whereas in the hardback version the cover extended a few millimetres beyond the paper. The logo is still blind embossed on the front. Inside the front and back cover is an additional sheet of heavier, orange, paper. This is to give the book some additional support.

There is a greater range of colours with this cover, my current book is sapphire, a medium blue. It’s quite nice. I also have a poppy coloured book which is a bright red. The choice of colours is great, moving away from the limited selection of the more typical office notebook colour of black or Rhodia’s own traditional colour of orange.

The binding of the first and last page is the same as in the hardbook, too much glue again which I had to split. Not a major problem but in a book this good I would expect to see a nicer finish.


Finally the cover stands up well to rain, I learned recently. I was caught in heavy rain for about twenty minutes. Bar some spots on the edge of some pages, there is no other sign the notebook got wet. The cover is entirely unmarked.

The drawback

You win some, you lose some.

There is one drawback from the soft cover; the writing experience at the start of the book and the end of the book is impeded by the flex in the cover. Not having that hard surface allows the page to bend particularly toward the centre spine making it difficult to write neatly. It is possible to adjust to this. One was is to contort the book in such a way as to lay the page flat but this requires pressure and uncomfortable hand positions, particularly at the start of the book due to my being right-handed. Another way, which I used, is to put something under the cover to keep the page level. I used the notebook I had just finished, that worked well.

Toward rear of the book, softcover gives no support to the pages.

This issue does diminish reasonably quickly as pages are used but I would be remiss in not mentioning. I’ll admit to regretting the purchase at first when I encountered this but quickly came to terms with it.

The conclusion

After six months and being half-way through the book, I am very happy with it and will stick to the soft cover versions in future.


[1] – Ana Reinert from The Well-Appointed Desk has an excellent post comparing a group of dotted notebooks. She finds the Rhodia dots too dark and the comparison photo she posted really bears this out. For me, I am used to the Rhodia dots so I am not concerned.

Other reviews

Dots are the way for me but if you prefer lines then check out the following reviews.


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