The Rhodia Webnotebook (a.k.a. the Rhodia “Webbie”) is probably about as far as you can get from a Moleskine while still falling in the “little black book with a back pocket and elastic band” category. The cover is a soft, black leatherette which is lovely to rub on your face, or to stroke as if you are an insane evil villain who has mistaken a notebook for a cat, but it tends to accumulate little smudges, scuffs, and remnants of fingerprints as though it were born for the job.
In profile, you can see how the exceptionally tight elastic closure has forever warped the hard cover. My guess is that starting with an almost impossibly tight elastic means an overall greater lifespan for the useful elasticity of the closure; I’ve certainly had some SHODDY NOTEBOOKS WE SHALL NOT NAME whose elastic bands have gone uselessly limp. I do wish there were a way to have a better elastic and also have it not warp the cover though.
Wrapping up the general complaints and grievances section, I need to note that this notebook will not lay flat of its own initiative. You have to hold it down, like a prisoner. Now, my Webbie is fairly new, and only has about 4 pages that I’ve written on so far. My guess is that with extended use, the Webbie will eventually learn to lay flat on its own. Or perhaps I could go through and try to crack the spine a little. Just a warning though, when the notebook is new: do not expect it to lay flat. If you need the pages to lay flat, say to dry, then weight them down or the book will shut itself.
In spite of the little flaws, I love the overall design of the Webbie; I like the subtly embossed logo, I enjoy the rich and supple feel of the cover, even if it does get a bit dinged up…but this isn’t a beauty pageant. Let’s get on the paper.
Drying time is a bit longer than most, though I didn’t do any informal time-test, I have not yet had a problem with smudging any of my still-drying writing. Maybe I just pause too long to think when I write. Every pen’s writing looks gorgeous on the page; lines are crisp, they have character, and I see no fuzzing or feathering.
And look! No bleedthrough. You can somewhat see the shadow of the writing through the page, which I’m guessing will be a problem you’ll have with any paper that isn’t some kind of 140lb (300g/m²) watercolor paper. If this really bothers you, try writing on watercolor paper. Problem solved!
Doesn’t that look delicious? It certainly feels delicious. Writing in the webbie is smooth and enjoyable. The paper works with the writing process, instead of against it.
The webbie runs a little more expensive than a standard pocket Moleskine, but with the unique experience that you’re actually paying more money for a quality product, instead of just for the heck of it. Typically, the pocket webbie seems to retail around $16, but with a little snooping on the web you can find a better price. Goldspot pens has a good price on them right now (though I think it might have been even more on sale when I tweeted about it last week…or I’m hallucinating); JetPens also has a pretty good price, provided you are buying at least $75 worth of assorted notebooks (which is about never for me, so this will never actually be a good deal for yours truly). I don’t feel like doing the mathematical gymnastics required to divine exactly which combination of sale price and shipping price yields the exact lowest price among every retailer with a Rhodia webnotebook in their stock; I’ll leave that to you, and assure you that even if you don’t finagle the most bargain basement deal in getting one of these notebooks, it’ll still be worth it.