Those of us in the stationery blogger community probably owe Brad Dowdy a lot more than we would care to admit. Without knowing anyone's traffic data, I would venture to guess that he has the most popular stationery blog in the world, and rightly so. The man is prolific, the sheer amount of reviews on that site is staggering. If there is a pen you're thinking about getting, it's likely it's been reviewed on the Pen Addict. And let's not forget his podcast of the same name...not like you would: if you're reading this site, you surely know about it.
For all his blogging and podcasting prowess, however, it's not enough. He also owns Nock Co. with his partner Jeff Bruckwicki and they sell fountain pen-friendly bags and paper products. I bought these Dot-Dash Spiral Pads from Brad himself at the Nock Co. table at the Chicago Pen Show. I'm always on the lookout for a good top-bound book, and since I monopolized a little bit of his time and didn't need a pouch or bag, I thought I should buy the paper. I'm glad I did.
The book is A5 size with 84 pages. The paper is 60#, with the cover being 100#. The back cover is 24pt card stock, which is heavy enough, but not heavy duty chip-board like the Field Notes or Write Notepads top-bound Stenos. The paper is wonderful for everything inky you can throw at it, writing-wise, with a fine nib being about as big as you'd want to go if you're looking to use the back side of the page. My medium nibs didn't really bleed-through as much as just show-through. But they did show-through significantly. I also found it to be good with pencils, if maybe a tad too smooth for some harder pencils.
I was surprised at how well it did with ink considering how thin the paper feels. The problem with some Stenos is that they are built to be heavy-duty because they're generally written on while carried or held, and they can make the paper too heavy and cheap. The Write Notepads Steno and now this Nock Co Dot-Dash Spiral Pad are my two favorites. What also surprised me is the strength of the wire binding, considering how thin the wire is. It has held up very well, and exceeded my expectations.
One thing that puts this up there is the price: $18 for 2- 84 page books. That's 168 pages for $18. The Write Notepads is $16 for 120 pages, and the Field Notes is $10 for 80 pages. So this one sits right in the sweet spot for page value.
So I've talked about all the good, but what about the not-so-good? Well, I'm not the biggest fan of the Dot-Dash ruling. It seems really busy to me, and the ink they use isn't the lightest, so it doesn't quite fall into the background once pencil or pen is put to page. I might be able to handle it if it were a bit lighter and a bit bigger...it comes in at 4.25mm. That smaller than the standard Field Notes graph and way busier. I would feel better with such a busy ruling if the graph spacing was bigger, but then again, I don't have Brad's famously tiny handwriting. The other thing, and this is a minor nitpick, is that the ruling is so busy, I can't really see where the perforation is. This is a problem because the perf starts really low, lower than I expected. I've torn off the first sentence of a page more than a handful of times because the perf is also so fine, you don't really know you're writing on it. So I need some sort of indicator here, whether it's a heading or just a rougher perf that can be seen.
Overall, I like this because it is thin and a bit more portable, the spiral isn't as huge as other books. It does well with all my writing instruments of choice, and at the price, I don't feel bad with it being my next-to-the-mouse book that gets scribbled on and used / abused.
Available from Nock Co. $18 for a 2-pack.