I’ve had my Baron Fig Confidant for a little over a month now, and it’s definitely taken me this long to really figure out how I feel about it. In that time, I’ve gone from glee, to disappointment, and back to a medium-to-high-grade satisfaction. I think I’m ready to discuss it now. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of bloggers out there who have posted reviews much earlier than I have. Here’s just a partial list:
Man, is this thing good looking. I’ve been posting some pictures of it, and even my non-scribomechanically oriented friends have mentioned something along the lines of, “wow, what is that?” It arrived in a vibrant, winey mauve box which fit it perfectly. Unboxing it was like opening a really nice piece of electronics, like an iPhone or a Kindle. The neutral, simple grey cloth cover is perfect. It reminds me of an aluminum MacBook — sleek, attention-getting, but subtle.
The Baron Fig Confidant notebook comes in a beautiful, well-fitting box.
The gray cloth is tucked neatly behind the board that makes up the inside cover.
It’s stretched across the cover with no wrinkle whatsoever, and tucked neatly around the rounded corner behind the inside cover. There’s a gorgeous grey rolled linen paper behind each cover, and the one in the front has a simple box for your title.
(Baron Fig is currently running a social media campaign called “What’s in your box?”, where they’re asking users to share creative things they’ve drawn or written in their page-one box. Check out the Twitter hashtag #FigBox to see some fun examples.)
One of the great little flourishes on the Confidant is the canary yellow bookmark that comes with the notebook.
One of the great little flourishes on the Confidant is the canary yellow bookmark that comes with the notebook. It seems like almost every review expressed disappointment in the execution of the bookmark, though — it starts fraying immediately. Mine is no different.
The bookmark frays almost from the start, however.
Something I really like about the notebook is its size. At 5.4” x 7.7”, it’s a bit shorter and wider than, say, a Moleskine, it’s tweaked just a little bit, and while it’s not necessarily immediately noticed, with time, I really appreciated it.
As I mentioned in a previous post about this notebook, there’s a lot of hype to live up to. In the Kickstarter, the creators of the notebook made all sorts of claims — apart from the high-minded ideals of idea creation, inspiration, etc. — about it’s performance! It lays perfectly flat! No bleed on the paper! Does it actually do those things? Mostly.
Does it lay flat?
I’m definitely not an expert in bookmaking, but it seems like the notebook is made of more folios and signatures than a typical notebook. That means there are more opportunities for the notebook to be open toward the middle of one of those signatures, and therefore allowing it to stretch out. (Book binders: please correct me if I’m wrong!).
The Baron Fig Confidant notebook doesn’t lay perfectly flat, but reasonably flat.
I’m still toward the beginning of the notebook — I only have maybe 10 pages or so filled up. These pages, though they don’t lay perfectly flat, lay way flatter than other notebooks. One of my Moleskines wouldn’t lay flat like this even with a pencil weighing down the page. Once I get a few more spreads in, though, it looks like it will start laying much flatter.
One issue: it’s hard to keep the notebook closed! It would really benefit from a band to go around the cover like a Rhodia Webnotebook or a Moleskine. Typically it’s not too much a problem, because it mostly lives inside my messenger bag where it’s held closed, but for those who keep it on their desktop, it might be a bit unwieldy.
Finally: as one reviewer mentioned (I’m sorry; I can’t remember who), this notebook is creaky! The spine feels very solidly constructed; even with the full weight of my hand resting on it, it doesn’t tear or crack. But sometimes it sounds like it’s going to.
Does it bleed?
A close-up of the Baron Fig Confidant paper, with the dot grid. The paper is thick, not too toothy, but not too slick, either.
This paper is nice. It’s definitely heavier stock than a Moleskine, though maybe not as heavy as the 70# stock in the Field Notes Shelterwood. Maybe a 60# or 50#?
I gave the page a good test with a few kinds of pencil, a fountain pen, a roller ball, a felt-tip and a Sharpie. The fountain pen, with a medium nib, had a tiiiny bit of visibility on the opposing page, and the thick, chisel-tipped Sharpie definitely bled through, but everything else held strong.
The felt-tip and the fountain pen are barely visible on the opposite side of the page.
But the chisel-tipped, thick Sharpie bled through badly.
I think this is a solid mark in their favor. Since I’ll primarily use pencil, I should have no problems at all.
And speaking of paper…
I ordered the dot grid configuration (it’s available in blank and narrow-ruled format, too), thinking it’d be really similar to a traditional grid, which is my preferred paper format. Man, did it take some getting used to!
At first, I could have sworn it was a smaller grid than a standard grid layout. When I would write, I would bump up agains the line above, and the ascenders and descenders would crowd out those on the adjacent lines. It didn’t seem like I was writing too big. I measured the space between the dots — five millimeters.
Surely it was too small; five millimeters was definitely not enough for a line of my handwriting. I was ready to abandon the Confidant.
But then I measured the space in a Rhodia notepad grid — the grid of perfection, in my opinion — and that of a Field Notes Drink Local edition. Both of those measured the same five millimeters!
What, then? Why does it feel so drastically different in this notebook?
I came to the conclusion that it’s the dot grid. I can’t use a blank page for writing without some sort of guide, because my hand wanders all over the page. Both the lined and the gridded paper keeps my writing in check by giving my hand a literal baseline to follow. The dot grid only kinda sorta did that.
Though my hand encounters the dot every couple of letters or so, I think it’s not substantial enough to really guide my writing in straight path.
Bottom line: I love the look and feel of the dot grid. I’m definitely not going to give up on it; I think I just need a little bit more experience to train my writing.
For $15.95, this notebook is well-priced for the quality and unique look and feel you get. And if you love writing in an A5-sized notebook, like a Moleskine or a Rhodia Webnotebook, you’ll love this.
It’s not perfect, but as they claim on their website, the product is ever-evolving: they will tweak their next run based on user experience and feedback. The notebooks they sell two years from now might be completely different!
Pick it up at BaronFig.com.