As I'm sure you know, the medium/A5 dotted Leuchtturm1917 is my favorite notebook. It has pretty great details that make it a prime choice for Bullet Journal purposes as it has a built-in index, pagination, and quality paper that will keep your memories safe.
The Leuchtturm1917 is a wonderful notebook. The dotted one in particular gives you the same flexibility that graph grid does, except it's less busy. The dots get out of your way and reappear when you need them to. They're easy on the eyes and are a great choice for the Bullet Journal.
I have a bit of a collection now. I aim to get most of the colors. I'm not sure if I'll get red, purple, or pink though, since those aren't really colors I'm into. I did see the pink in person and it's a nice deep shade, so that may be an option. I wish their bicolore notebooks came in dot grid. Leuchtturm1917 calls the dot versions 'dotted grid' and I interchange how I refer to this particular style, but they're the same thing. Dot grid, dotted grid, same thing.
Before finding out about Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, I had always liked notebooks, but it wasn't until I had my hands on one of these that I knew what it was to love a notebook.
Well, let's get on with it. Now that we've reached for and grabbed the notebook, we'll take a look at the Azure color. This is the A5/Medium size, by the way.
When I first tried Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, they only had 1 bookmark. Lately I've noticed that they have 2 bookmarks. I'm not sure if these are new versions.
First of all, the packaging for the Leuchtturm1917 is beautiful. It comes sealed in plastic and when you tear that off, you're met with this jacket that shows a peek at the style. Two images display the type of ruling, dotted in this case, and the pagination.
When you open to the the notebook, you're met with a little booklet on Leuchtturm1917's history and a card detailing the company's mission statement.
Take those out and you're met with a place to write your name and address. I recommend adding these in case you lose your notebook so that it can be returned to you.
Here's a look at the card. I love that they include it, it's a wonderful touch of humanity in their notebooks.
The Leuchtturm1917 comes with 3 pages for the index with columns for the page numbers and topics.
Here are the following pages of the index.
This is what the dot grid and page numbers look like. There are 249 numbered pages. The last 8 are perforated in case you want to share a note with someone. The pages are a delightful cream color, they're right in between Moleskine and Rhodia, not too light, not too dark, just right. The dots are 5mm (.5cm). The width of the dots are also perfect, they're small enough that they don't become an eye-sore, but visible enough to be useful.
This version comes with two ribbon bookmarks, one solid and the other striped. The ribbon bookmarks are thick and sturdy. I haven't had an issue with these unraveling. Again, I think this is an updated model because the ribbons in my one ribbon bookmarks LT1917's were different...slightly thinner, softer, and they had some stretch to them. Of the 5 one ribbon bookmark notebooks I had, only one started to unravel. The ribbons that come in the two ribbon bookmark notebooks are different, made with stronger material that does not stretch or unfurl - this is definite upgrade, though I do miss the softness of the other ones, I'm certain these ones are far more heavy-duty.
The ribbon markers hang about 2 1/2 inches beneath the notebook. This doesn't bother me, but it's something that may bother others.
When you flip to the back of the notebook, you're met with a sticker sheet for archival purposes. Three cover plates and three labels for the spine. You can use these to write your name, what the book is, and use the spine labels to indicate which dates the notebook spans.
There's a very roomy, sturdy back pocket that you can stash goodies like receipts, a mini ruler, or anything you wish!
Now, on to the pen test, because that's what everyone wants to know.
"What pens work for the Leuchtturm1917?"
In a nutshell, most pens will work in the Leuchtturm1917 - even fountain pens. The paper quality is 80gsm. For comparison, Moleskine has 72gsm paper and Rhodia has 90gsm paper, so the Leuchtturm1917 is in right in between meaning it can handle more pens than Moleskines notebooks without bleed-through, but not nearly all pens like Rhodia.
When you write on the Leuchtturm1917, the ink will not bleed-through for most pens except for the wettest of inks. It does, however, have a fair amount of show-through. What this means is that when you write on one side of the paper and then flip to the next page, you will be able to see faintly what is written on the other side.
This is crucial to note because a lot of people are interested with the other details and are happy to know that the paper won't bleed-through, but then are dismayed when there is more show-through than they expected. This doesn't bother me, and it doesn't bother many others, but it's worth noting in case this is something that matters to you.
Here, the Sheaffer Skrip Green ink I used for the title bled-through a bit because I went over the same area a few times. You can see how the rest of the words were fine. The Sharpie markers obviously had some bleed-through and suprisingly, so did the Uniball Vision Elite at the bottom. Besides that, the rest of the pens did well.
Here's behind the right-hand page. It doesn't show here, but the Fisher space pen did bleed-through. Anyways, here's what I mean about the show-through. You can see that there words written on the other side, but you can't read them too clearly - except for the bigger words such as the title.
I've been using Leuchtturm1917 notebooks since I found out about them in August 2014. I have gone through 6 so far. The first four had only one ribbon bookmark and the rest two ribbon bookmarks. As I mentioned before, I think the ones with two ribbon bookmarks are new because I don't see the one ribbon bookmark ones anymore at my local shops. Also, when I've ordered them online I receive the ones with two. I've only ever bought the A5 size, so I don't know how many ribbons the other sizes have.
Aside the obvious extra ribbon bookmark, there are other differences I have noticed that I think are worth mentioning. The following photos are of a one ribbon bookmark notebook.
The paper of the two ribbon bookmark Leuchtturm1917 is ever so slightly different. It's noticeable enough to me because it's the smoothness of the paper that drew me in in the first place. With the one ribbon bookmark notebooks, the paper is quite smooth, beautifully so in fact. With the two ribbon bookmark versions, the paper is slightly rougher.
With the one ribbon bookmark notebooks, I would open the notebook and pass my hand over the pages lovingly. The two ribbon bookmark notebooks have a slightly grittier feel that isn't quite as welcoming. It makes a little sad to be honest. But, I have gotten used to the new feel so I barely notice it anymore. Still, it's something I wanted to share.
Another thing besides the feel is the quality of the paper. As you can see above, there is no bleed-through from the title even though I passed over the title more times than I had in the two ribbon bookmark Azure from before. Also, the bleed-through is not as pronounced even though I pressed on the ink the same amount.
Here is behind the right-hand page. There is bleed-through from the Fisher space pen, again do not get this pen.
And here they are, side by side for comparison. Two ribbon bookmark notebook on the left (azure), one ribbon bookmark notebook on the right (orange). The two ribbon bookmark notebooks have slightly creamier pages, which is one difference I do like, worth noting as some of you have a preference for whiter paper. Also, on the azure you can see slightly more show-through, while the orange one has less show-through. On the azure notebook, you can see and even read more of the words written on the other side of the page. On the orange notebook, the show-through is still visible, but not as much. This is an important comparison to see because I keep seeing people mention how surprised they are at the amount of show-through when they get these notebooks. It's a valid concern and something I noticed immediately with the two ribbon bookmark notebooks. I don't mind it, but you might.
I think the increased show-through might be because of the grittier feel of the pages. In my experience, the smoother the paper, the longer it'll take for the ink to dry which is a good thing because this way the ink will seep in slowly and not bleed-through. So, I'm guessing the opposite to be true as well: the less smooth the paper, the faster it'll absorb the ink, and the more absorbent it will be. Which could mean more show-through and increased possibility for bleed-through. We can see this to be the case above with the azure (left) having more bleed-through in comparison to the orange one. I think you know this to be true already, for example, if you write on newspaper with a Sharpie, the ink will absorb quickly, feather (spread out), show and bleed through the pages. Then again, these are Sharpies, so those are obviously going to bleed-through in most notebooks, still, a worthy comparison.
I guess the biggest takeaway here is that Leuchtturm1917 notebooks might handle less inks than it used to. But, this could also just be an issue with this particular batch, supplier, or quality control. With a quick google search, it does seem like Leuchtturm1917 paper has gotten better over the years, so I'm hoping that their paper quality will continue to be worked on and improved. And the smoothness of it brought back! For what it's worth, if you've never had one of these and you get one, the paper will feel pretty smooth to you - that's because it is smooth, but not quite as smooth as the one ribbon bookmark notebooks are.
Lastly, the notebook doesn't fold down quite as flat anymore. I was told by GouletPens that perhaps this is due to the extra ribbon bookmark on the spine. That's plausible. In the above image you can see how flat the Leuchtturm with one bookmark gets with the rounding of the spine. I'm not sure if this is what you call, "breaking the spine" ?
With the two ribbon Leuchtturm1917, it has more resistance and does not fold as flat as you can see above. In one way, the book feels sturdier. It does seem to be because of a more reinforced spine to keep the extra ribbon bookmark intact. Thankfully, Ryder shared this strategy to help flatten down a book without breaking the spine which I find is a very helpful technique.
The difference in the smoothness of the paper will probably not be noticeable to you if you've never had one of these before. Despite it having slightly more show-through and bleed-through than it used to (again, assuming the ones with two ribbon bookmarks are new), I still recommend trying these out at least once. I still like them, but I do wish they had kept the paper the same.
I have reached out to Leuchtturm1917 to see if they had any comments on these differences I noticed, but they have not responded. I talked with GouletPens and asked them if they noticed these differences, and they said that they haven't. I talked to a friend who also uses these, and she also noticed the difference in the feel of the paper with the one ribbon bookmark LT1917 and two ribbon boomark LT1917 so has one of my readers.
UPDATE: Leuchtturm1917 got back to me and said that they have not changed their paper and don't know why the paper appears to be rougher. I don't know either. How strange, hah. Well, like I said, it's slight.
Maybe I'm hyper-aware of these seemingly minute differences,but it is these very details that Leuchtturm1917 is known for as a company. So, when something changes, I think it's important to pay attention. Especially because another big notebook company has changed their paper quality over the years to be less than optimal; I'd hate to think Leuchtturm1917 would also be going down this road. Of course, Leuchtturm1917 still has pretty great paper, again it's a very slight difference. Still concerning though. I'd like to think that a higher demand would mean increasing the paper quality of the notebooks, or at least keeping them at the same lovely standard people love them for.
Despite these qualms, it's still a great notebook in comparison to most of the ones out there. It has all of the little extra details I look for in a notebook such as a built-index, pagination, dot grid, colorful covers, sturdy feel, and the paper is still better than most notebooks out there for regular and fountain pens and works perfectly for the Bullet Journal system. Even though the paper quality has changed slightly, it's still my favorite notebook because of all of these details. So, yes, at the end of the day, I still choose the Leuchtturm1917 as my notebook of choice and recommend it.
If you're a Bullet Journal enthusiast, consider getting an official Bullet Journal Leuchtturm1917 as a way to thank Ryder Carroll for sharing the incredible system :) With the holidays coming up, these will make a great stocking stuffer, though they are a great gift at any time!
UPDATE March 2016: It seems as though the paper has improved. It no longer has a gritty feeling, it is smooth again. The only different I notice now is that the paper feels set, it's weird to explain, like cool to the touch hah. Ah well, happy to have it mostly back to normal.
Leuchtturm1917 A5/Medium Notebook Features:
- 145 x 210 mm
- Ink proof and acid free paper
- Thread bound
- 80gsm paper
- 249 numbered pages
- 8 perforated pages at the back
- 3 Index pages
- Back pocket
- One - Two ribbon bookmarks (Three if you grab an official Bullet Journal Leuchtturm1917)
- Place to write down your name and address
- Archival stickers
- Mostly folds flat (Speed up the process with this technique)
- Available in ruled, squared, plain and dotted
- Available in 17 different colors: Anthracite, Azure, Berry, Black, Chocolate, Emerald, Lemon, Light Blue, Lime, Navy, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Royal Blue, Taupe, and White.
Where to purchase
If you're in San Diego, find them in these shops:
- Artists & Craftsman's supply (Hillcrest)
- Warwick's (La Jolla)
- Show-through: Means that you can see words on the other side of a page.
- Bleed-through: Means that the ink seeps through to the other side.
- Feathering: Means that ink feathers out into the veins of the paper.
The Leuchtturm1917 has a fair amount of show-through, little to no bleed-through, and I've never experienced feathering with these. There could be, but I don't have a wide selection of fountain pen inks, so this has hasn't happened to me.
Thank you for checking out this review! I hope you have found it helpful. I'm wary of when people post reviews on items they've only had for five minutes, so I held off on writing this review for a long time until I felt it was the right time and I had put this product through its paces. In the meantime I've discussed thoughts and written down observations to aide the overall review. I think a review is only truly useful if you've used the product for a good amount of time and can see both the good and the not so good of a product over time. I've been using these notebooks for over a year, so I think I am a good source for sharing what I love about the notebook and concerns about it with a thorough review. At the end of the day they are still the best for my needs as a Bullet Journal enthusiast. I enjoy these notebooks and would recommend trying them out. You'll have a hard time finding another notebook at this price for the paper quality and finer details. I think it's great and I trust their beautiful sturdy build to keep my memories safe. They truly are a beautiful work of art that I am happy to use to help me get things done. It's the first and only notebook I have found so far that I love and enjoy using.
Also worth noting, I will not do a review on any product I would not use myself, so you can rest assured that this is still my favorite notebook and I do very much like it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quality notebook that will last throughout time. I still reference my old notebooks all of the time and they're as sturdy as ever.
This is a review written and photographed out of a genuine love for the dotted Leuchtturm1917 notebooks by yours truly.
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