Part 2 of my International Stationery & Office Products Fair Tokyo coverage: Random thoughts.
During the ISOT, a young guy almost let me ruin a notebook before an older, wiser man realized what I was about to do and answered my question before I did.
I was in the Sanyo Shigyo booth which featured a collection of random items with paper covers and I was about to subject the top two pages of a thick 352 page notebook/notepad called the Paper Mille-Feuille to my wettest fountain pens. The Paper Milles-Feuille features a tough paper cover that, if I understood the designer correctly, was layered and compressed to make it feel like board. It was square and glue bound on one side and I couldn’t tell it was supposed to be a desktop notebook or a giant notepad. (It would depend on how well the binding held up.)
The paper was smooth but before I tested it, the older man told me it wasn’t fountain pen friendly and ink would bleed through. Not wanting to ruin the notebook I took his word for it. The younger man assured me they were working on finding paper to make it fountain pen friendly and wanted to know if I would buy it. I said, as diplomatically as possible, that I already had too many notebooks but others I knew might like it.
I also suggested he have some paper samples nearby for people to try.
In fact, I spent a great amount of time convincing notebook makers to make small, fountain pen friendly notebooks. The DESIGNPHIL booth had several new MD notebooks that are, for the most part, fountain pen friendly but other booths did not. To prove it, DESIGNPHIL was handing out small notebooks made from their paper.
At other booths I suggested the pencil case makers have leather versions of their products. As much as I like my nylon Nock Co pen cases, they won’t age as well as leather. Lihit Lab, which makes some popular pen cases, didn’t have much that I liked. Even their large carry-alls were designed for people who only carry one or two pens. (I’ve heard of such people existing, but I don’t know anyone who’s actually seen one. They are Bigfoot to me.)
Then there were the oddities. I mentioned before that King Jim, which specializes in oddities, had a vibrating pen for helping you massage your neck when you’ve been writing too long. These are interesting, but it’s not something I’ve ever actually wanted.
The also had a Pen/Stylus with a nock. Undeployed it’s a styulus; with the nock depressed, it’s a ballpoint pen. I know myself too well and I know that scratched screens would ensue with something like that.
The most unusual, though, as if a vibrating pen weren’t unusual enough, were the leather slip covers/carriers for Yamato liquid glue. Yamato glue is ubiquitous and cheap. A couple bottles can be had for around a hundred yen and everyone I know in Japan has at least one bottle somewhere in their house. Putting a leather slip cover on it would be like having a leather carrying case for a Bic Cristal. It may look cool but you’re turning a cheap product into an expensive accessory.
There were a couple other oddities worth mentioning. One company, and I neglected to write down the booth’s name, had notebooks made from random paper, some of it rough, dark graph paper that seemed more useful for show rather than for use. They also had folio sized blank books that seemed as if they were destined to be guest books for an artists desktop sketch book. Or they were just for display, I still can’t decide which.