I've made no secret in the past about my love for France and French stationery products. I spent a year studying at the Sciences-Po Strasbourg during college, and it's where I first discovered fountain pens and fine paper (especially my personal favorite, the Clairefontaine French-ruled). I enjoy French paper because, regardless of price point, it typically handles fountain pen ink fairly well. I lived there in the early 2000s, and even then I would say the majority of the students in my class wrote with a fountain pen (though sadly it’s probably less now). But back to Calepino.
Calepino is a notebook company located in Nantes, France. According to the company website, the name is a play on “Calepin”, a French word meaning “small notebook,” which is itself derived from Ambrogio Calepino, a fifteenth century Italian scholar who devoted his life to making a multilingual dictionary.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about Calepino notebooks is that the cover is made from a stiffer cardboard - much stiffer than books made by Field Notes and Write Notepads. I’d compare it more to the notebooks made by Doane Paper and Scout Books. To be honest, the cover is not my favorite aspect of this notebook, but apparently the cardboard was a key concept behind this design, as the notebook was inspired by a cardboard-covered notebook carried by the designer’s father.
The paper is the key selling point for the Calepino notebook. As a pocket notebook user who likes to use a mixture of fountain pens and pencils on a daily basis, I found it just heavy enough to handle most fine-to-medium nib fountain pens without much bleedthrough, and still tactile enough for pencils. Using a super-wet nib may still cause some “pinprick” bleeding, but you'd have to really push it in order to render the back side of the page unusable. I opted for the graph notebook, which contains bright white paper with a blue-green grid. Calepino also makes plain, lined, and dot grid versions of their notebooks.
As a bit of a side note, Calepino also sells very nice, French-manufactured pencils. The one I have is a matte black pencil with a white eraser. The wood is not cedar, though it sharpens well and the graphite is dark, reminiscent of the Staedtler Norica. Calepino makes yellow and white versions too, so I may pick up a few more in the future,
Where to Buy
I purchased a pack of Calepinos during my last visit to C.W. Pencil Enterprise in New York City, and I will most likely pick up some more (in both graph and dot grid) during an upcoming work trip to NYC next month. Calepino notebooks are $10 for a pack of three, which is standard pocket notebook pricing. Calepino packages their notebooks in a small cardboard box, rather than the belly-band + shrink wrap that other notebook companies use. This makes it much more convenient to store your hoard!
Disclaimer: I purchased the products featured in this review with my own funds, for my own personal use. This post contains some affiliate links.