Rhodia Meeting Book Review
My introduction to the fountain pen hobby came about in part because of a desire to spend less time in front of computer screens. Toward the end of 2016, I tracked how much time I was spending in front of various electronic displays. Between work and home, it was becoming clear to me that too much of my waking life was being spent parked in front of pixels.
So I decided to make a change.
As part of that change, I asked myself, "What activities can I easily transition away from the computer?" I soon identified taking notes in meetings as a task I could stop doing electronically, but that meant I needed a quality notebook to replace my laptop in meetings. The Rhodia Meeting Book quickly caught my eye due to its attractive orange cover, simple page layout, and fountain pen friendly paper.
So how does it stand up to the corporate life? Let's find out!
Materials & Construction
The Rhodia Meeting Book offers 80 sheets (160 pages) of 90-gram Rhodia paper in A5 size. A5 is one of my preferred paper sizes and it works well in the Meeting Book, providing ample writing space for notes for my typical office meetings (usually around an hour or less).
The paper included in the Meeting Book is somewhat slick to the touch, but not "glossy" per se. As is the case with all Rhodia paper I've tested, the paper is very fountain pen friendly.
The cover on the Meeting Book fits in well with its overall aesthetic. It's made of simple yet sturdy card stock that is glossy on the exterior sides, and slightly more matte on the interiors. The front cover has the Rhodia logo and "meeting book" centered, with a stylized representation of the page layout at the bottom center of the cover. The back cover is uninteresting: the Rhodia logo, PEFC certification statement, and bar code appear in three corners. Overall I enjoy the design, but a hardcover would add some welcome durability to this notebook.
Something I disliked about the cover on the Meeting Book is that it did seem prone to picking up random scuffs. I used the Meeting Book almost exclusively on (ostensibly) clean office desks and tables, but it nevertheless seemed to discolor with scuffs rather easily. If keeping the covers of your notebook pristine is important to you, this may not be your notebook.
The binding on the Meeting Book is Rhodia's familiar double-ring wire binding in an attractive black finish. I really enjoy the contrast of the black binding with the orange cover and white pages. I also like the orange strip at the left edge of each page which also nicely contrasts with the binding.
The wire binding is sturdy, and after several months of use, has stood up without issue, save for some very minor bending of the bottom ring (which has not affected functionality). Finally, the design of the binding allows the Meeting Book to lay completely flat whether spread open or with pages folded behind. The lay-flat design allows for a predictable and consistently comfortable writing experience, which I appreciate.
The page layout in the Meeting Book is simple and practical. There is a single line for the date at the upper-right corner of the front-facing pages. Below the date line, and taking up about one-sixth of the page is a set of 6 ruled lines. This space is ostensibly for the subject of your notes, and I tend to use it to record the name and location of my meeting, along with the attendees.
The remaining lower portion of the page is split into 2 columns: the left column (~75% of the width of the page) is dedicated to "Notes," while the right column (~25%) is allocated for "Action." For my personal usage, I find the "Notes" section to be good for short bullet points or prose. I use the "Action" section to create a checklist of action items that need to be performed after the meeting concludes. Having this visual separation between my general notes/commentary and actual tasks has been helpful in facilitating my follow up on those tasks and provides a useful at-a-glance summary of your meeting for future reference.
Pages are not numbered, but are perforated and tear out easily. Because this notebook does not include a bookmark or other tool for marking your current location, I would have appreciated numbered pages, but it's not a deal-breaker.
While using fountain pens with various extra fine, fine, medium, broad, and flex nibs with the Meeting Book, I did not experience any bleed or feathering. There was some show-through, but it was never so bad that I felt I could not use the back of the page for another set of notes, even when using vibrant inks. Sharpie markers did demonstrate significant show-through that does render backs of pages unusable, but I personally don't use markers in my notebooks often enough for this to be of concern.
Inks from medium and finer nibs tended to dry within 10 seconds, and broad nibs took closer to 15 seconds. I did not experience any issues with smearing or blotting, but I am pretty diligent about giving my writing sufficient time to dry, so your mileage may vary.
Writing on the 90-gram Rhodia paper was consistently a joy, particularly when I used well-lubricated inks. Fountain pen nibs just glide across this paper, and there is nary a hint of "toothiness." Over the past several months of use, I have never once had to clean paper fibers from the tines of a nib when using the Meeting Book. The paper is not tremendously absorptive, so it allows for nice shading and/or sheening if your ink has those properties.
At this time, the Rhodia Meeting Book sells for around $15 at popular online retailers. Considering that most quality hardcover A5 notebooks with fountain pen friendly paper tend to start at around $20 and above, the Meeting Book offers good value if you don't consider the cover to be too much of a compromise. Personally, I enjoy the design and functionality of this notebook enough to make it my daily carry around the office, and I definitely plan to purchase another one after I eventually use this one up.