Nanami Paper Seven Seas Crossfield Review
Nanami Paper's Seven Seas line of notebooks garner much praise among fountain pen users. With its ample supply of Tomoe River paper in A5 size and cross grid format, the Crossfield version of the Seven Seas notebook has quite a lot going for it. But does it live up to the hype?
Materials & Construction
The Seven Seas notebooks offer 480 pages of Tomoe River's widely-praised paper. The paper is extremely thin (52 gsm), nearly half the thickness of traditional copy paper. I liken it to paper one would find in thick reference books. like a dictionary or legal casebook. Tomoe River paper is smooth to the touch, but not as glossy as Rhodia paper. I never cease to be amazed at just how strong and resilient this paper is, given its weight. Based purely on feel, one would not expect paper this thin to withstand heavy ink flow, and yet it does, time and time again.
The cover is made of a coated fabric in a pleasing dark red hue. It has a bit of texture to it, and the coating actually allows it to repel water (though it's not advertised as such, and the top, bottom, and one side of the paper within will still be exposed, so proper diligence is still encouraged). The Seven Seas notebooks do not include a bookmark or other type of page indicator. They do, however, ship with an included sheet of blotter paper. It's a handy inclusion, especially considering the slower dry time one usually experiences with Tomoe River paper.
The Seven Seas notebooks come in a variety of page layouts in traditional A5 size. The "Standard" edition offers blank pages; the "Writer" edition offers lined pages; and the "Crossfield" version reviewed here offers a cross grid pattern. The cross grid pattern is similar to other notebooks I've seen, such as Field Notes' "Lunacy" edition, though they call it "reticle grid" there. The crosses themselves are light gray in color (but note: previous versions made use of blue crosses) and are subtle enough not to be distracting. I'm rather ambivalent towards the "crosses versus dots" debate, but I will say it's nice to see something a little different from time to time.
One of my favorite aspects of the Seven Seas notebooks is their lay-flat bindings. Pages in the Seven Seas are "thread-bound," meaning they are sewn, gathered, and then cased into the cover. The result is a binding that consistently lays flat, yet also keeps its shape over time. It can even be folded over on itself and still springs back to its original form. I. Love. This. Binding! I can say with confidence that, of all the notebooks I've ever tested with fountain pens, the Seven Seas has the best physical ergonomics for daily use.
The design of this notebook only left me wanting in two areas: perforated sheets and numbered pages would have been nice inclusions.
Despite being so thin, the Tomoe River paper in these notebooks is extremely resilient to feathering and bleed-through. The pages generally hold up quite well to fountain pen writing, but show-through is more apparent than what one would usually find with heavier paper. For me, the show-through is not so bad that I feel I can't use the backs of pages, but I can definitely foresee that some will feel this way.
Dry time is a bigger issue. The fact that Nanami Paper includes a sheet of blotter paper with the notebook is telling: ink is slow to dry in this notebook. If you plan on using the Seven Seas for tasks that require frequent page flipping (for example, bullet journaling), you may want to consider other options. I don't mean to overstate the issue; for my regular use (notes, prose, handwriting practice, etc.) I experienced relatively few issues with smearing or smudging.
Tomoe River paper is notorious for allowing inks to shine, and the Seven Seas notebooks make no exception. This paper routinely demonstrates the shading and sheen properties of inks better than any other paper I've tried. Inks with heavy sheen (such as popular options from Organics Studio) practically sing, to a degree I just haven't witnessed on any other paper.
As of the time of this writing, the Seven Seas Crossfield sells for $24 on the Nanami Paper website. $24 is ever-so-slightly higher than the flat $20 figure I usually expect for an A5 notebook, but I feel the additional cost is justified by the voluminous page count, amazing binding, and uncommon Tomoe River cross grid layout. Despite costing slightly more, I greatly prefer the Seven Seas to cheaper A5 notebook options from Rhodia, Leuchtturm, and other brands.
Final Thoughts & Score
- an abundance of pages with an uncommon cross grid layout
- the best binding on any notebook I've tested
- Tomoe River paper brings out the best qualities of your favorite inks
- slow dry time
- show-through may be too much for some
- cover could be more durable