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Review: Exacompta Journal 21 (Exaclair)

I received this complementary copy of the Exacompta Journal 21 after responding to a call for reviewers on the Quo Vadis blog. Thank you, Karen Doherty for sending it! Here are my thoughts:

Overall, I liked this journal/agenda a lot. The super-smooth, light-colored paper was divine for my purposes, but as always, YMMV–some might find it a bit too thin or white (even though it’s slightly off-white). Even though I generally prefer journals that are much smaller, I found this to be a nice size for an agenda, particularly if you have lots of items each day. I also liked that it’s refillable, so if you find a cover you like, you can keep using it. However, if I were to purchase this, I’d get a different cover, and I’d prefer if it had a ribbon bookmarker and some sort of closure. But these are personal preferences!

Front cover picture (I had peeled the sticker off the cover, then tried to put it back on for the picture, so it’s a bit curled–it was pristine when I received it).
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The cover on the version I received is black vinyl, with a faux “stitching” pattern on the edges. It has a slight vinyl odor to it–not horrible, but noticeable to me. I didn’t like the sharpness of the edges, either–I could totally see myself accidentally skimming the edge of the cover trying to get it out of a bag or something, and getting one heck of a paper cut! They do come in 2 different covers, though. I like the Club covers I’ve seen on other Quo Vadis agendas in the store–they’re made of a prettier, softer vinyl. Otherwise, the cover is nice and classic-looking.

Front cover with paper insert
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Inside front cover
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Personal information page
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Personal information page, closer up
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Semi-annual planner pages
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The semi-annual planner pages seem like they would be handy for some people, so they could see a half-year’s worth of information on 2 pages. I intend to use this mainly as a journal, so I could see putting people’s birthdays on these pages.

Monthly planner pages
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The monthly planner pages are also a nice touch, so you can see upcoming events. I like the ability to have some perspective in a planner, even though the body of the journal itself is in a daily format.

Writing sample on a main body page
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Close-up of writing sample
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Reverse side of the writing sample page
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I LOVED the paper in this agenda/journal. This is what really makes the journal for me. Even though the paper is pretty thin, I happen to like that in a journal–otherwise, the journal becomes too thick and unwieldy. The paper is extremely smooth to the touch and writes like a dream with a fountain pen. Even my super-needlepoint fountain pens wrote smoothly in this journal, unlike some other papers, where the very fine nibs catch on paper fibers. I couldn’t seem to stop touching the paper, it was so nice! The paper is off-white–not the brilliant bright white of other Clairefontaine papers, but not buttery yellow/cream colored.

However, as you can easily see from the pictures, you can see the ink showing through on the other side. I didn’t have any bleedthrough, where there were dots on the next sheet of paper, but you could definitely see that something was written on the reverse side of the page. This didn’t bother me, but it might be a consideration for some people. For those of you interested, I used Sensa Meridian fountain pens, custom ground with various nibs (0.3mm down to XXXXF super-needlepoint). The inks I tested performed admirably–the only one with feathering easily discernable to the naked eye was Noodler’s Britannia’s Blue Waves, which feathers horribly on lots of paper, especially if you don’t use a hairline nib.

There are little perforated tabs that can be removed from each page to help you find the current page, but I don’t think I’ll personally use them. I would have preferred a ribbon bookmark of some sort, instead, but that’s a minor issue.

Blank main body page, showing stitching of signatures
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Close-up of signature stitching
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I really like that this journal has stitched signatures, so the agenda lays flat. I didn’t have to push on it much at all, and I took all the pictures in this review without having to hold the book open. I didn’t measure it, but the book is about an inch thick. I also think that stitched signatures make for a nicer experience–glued-in books tend to crack at the spine and open unevenly.

Address/phone information pages in the back
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Back inside cover
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Back cover
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All in all, I liked this agenda/journal a lot more than I expected, since it’s much larger than the journals I usually use. I suspected I would like the paper, since I use a lot of Clairefontaine paper, which has never disappointed me. The paper in this Journal 21 was no exception–it was ultra-smooth, light-colored, and wonderful to touch. It was heavenly with my very fine-nibbed pens, too, which can be scratchy on “normal” paper. There was no noticeable feathering on most of the inks I tried, and very little with inks that feather a lot on normal cheap copy paper.

I usually use 3″x5″ or 4″x6″ journals, so I thought this might be too large. I’ll probably use this for my desk diary to jot down various things that happen each day, so the size is actually pretty nice. I would have liked some sort of closure (elastic or a snap), because if I carried it around, it would get trashed in my bag. But this isn’t a deal-breaker!

Thanks again to Exaclair (US distributor of Clairefontaine/Quo Vadis/Exacompta products and more) for the opportunity to review this product!

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