The latest edition of Baron Fig’s flagship product, the Confidant Notebook, has just launched. While the Raspberry Honey is a beautiful edition to the family, some of you may be wondering if this $18 notebook ($20 for the limited edition) is even worth the price. To answer that question, I’ve put my Confidant to the test. Let’s take a look at what I found.
Originally launched on Kickstarter in September of 2013, Baron Fig introduced themselves to the public as a “sketchbook & notebook for Thinkers” with The Confidant. The campaign quickly surpassed its $15k goal and wrapped up after thirty days with over $165k raised. Almost four years later, Baron Fig’s catalog has grown to include a handful of paper products, pens, pencils, and bags to carry it all.
The Confidant is a hard cover 192 page notebook available in dot grid, ruled, or blank pages. It includes a single attached bookmark, acid-free paper, 12 perforated pages, and lay-flat binding, which are all fairly common to higher quality notebooks. Unfortunately, the notebook does not include numbered pages, an index, or a back cover pocket, which are becoming more and more common, particularly with Bullet Journal users. While I would prefer a pre-printed index and numbered pages, it isn’t difficult to just handle that yourself. As for the back cover pocket, its absence helps the notebook keep a very low profile.
Also aiding with the low profile is the Confidant’s slightly smaller than A5 size. Measuring in at 5.4 by 7.7 inches, the book is smaller than its Leuchtturm or Moleskine cousins, but still feels fully useful and comfortable. The hard cover has a cloth/knit surface feel that makes it very easy to hold the book in one hand and write in it with the other. The Raspberry-Honey limited edition also features debossed bees on the cover, which add another layer of texture while looking very clean and unique. Baron Fig has also launched new additions to the Confidant line; The Plus measures 7 by 10 inches, and The Pocket measures just 3.5 by 5 inches.
Never judge a book by its cover. Judge by its pages.
Over the past year, I’ve become almost exclusively a fountain pen user. The one non-FP in my daily lineup is a Pentel Energel 0.5 inside of the Karas Kustoms Render K, so finding fountain pen friendly paper is an important and sometimes limiting factor when I shop for a notebook. The Confidant, in its current form, holds up fairly well to fountain pen ink. After testing over a dozen inks and a handful of nibs, I found that the paper is not impervious to bleed-through, but writing with a light hand and a fine nib minimizes that effect on the back of the page. On the front side, while I did not notice any feathering, I did see a couple of interesting features with Baron Fig’s paper.
The first thing I noticed is that inks absorb differently. If you try an ink on a Tomoe River, Leuchtturm, or Rhodia sheet, you’ll get a pretty good look at the ink’s true and complete color range. Some inks sheen and shade (like my new favorite brand Robert Oster Signature), others are crisp and bold. On Baron Fig paper, however, it seems like the ink seeps into the page rather than drying on the surface. While the issue of not being able to reflect on how cool your ink looks isn’t really a deciding factor for stationers on a budget, it is something worth mentioning since I have not encountered it before.
The other unique feature to the Baron Fig paper is its printed dot grid. When writing or drawing with a fountain pen, if you look closely, you’ll see that the dots appear to be almost hydrophobic; The ink put down by the pen seems to not sit or dry over the dots. It took me a little while to notice this, as it doesn’t come up very often, but it’s one of those things that is difficult not to notice once you’ve seen it happen. I can only assume the same thing happens on the lined paper, so if you use a fountain pen with the Baron Fig, be mindful of your line spacing.
And now for a new feature for the blog: Bullet points!
- $18 per book, with discounts for multiples
- Very good paper quality
- Available in dot grid
- Slim, low impact profile
- Lays flat
- Knit/Cloth hard cover
- Buy a book, plant a tree
- The limited edition Raspberry Honey is beautiful
- Not 100% Fountain Pen friendly
- FP Ink doesn’t react normally with the paper
- Non-standard size makes covers uncommon to find
So. Is it worth it?
Good notebooks aren’t too hard to find these days, but if all you’re looking for is good, you’re probably digging up reviews by some guy on the internet. Great notebooks are far less common. It takes time, attention to detail, and clear intent to make a great notebook that people will want to use for nearly 200 pages. It is this reviewer’s opinion that Baron Fig has created a great product in the Confidant. The paper has a durable but smooth and familiar feel when you are flipping and writing through. The cover is soft but can take a beating. It was clearly designed by people who care about the user as much as the product. When it’s your time to get a new notebook, I strongly recommend checking out Baron Fig. You get a quality product, you support small business here in the U.S., and your Confidant purchase plants a tree. And that is what you call a “Win-Win-Win.”
Check out the flagship Confidant here.
Take a look at the limited edition here.
Disclaimer: While the first Confidant notebook was purchased at full retail price, Baron Fig provided the Raspberry Honey edition to The Poor Penman blog free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions stated are those of the author.