A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Booker-Palooza 2012 Review and Giveaway #2: Doane Paper A4 Writing Pad (Entries closed)

Welcome to day 2 of Booker-Palooza 2012. Today's giveaway is a "two-fer" — there will be two winners!

Odds are, you've seen Doane Paper before. Maybe not at the office or in your home, but if you follow my blog, you almost certainly follow Brad at The Pen Addict, for whom Doane Paper is the go-to paper for pen reviews. Today's review is of the Doane Paper A4 Writing Pad.

The Review

Let me say up front that I really admire people that come up with new ideas. (I'm a big advocate for intellectual property rights, e.g.) And Chad Doane had a good one: combine graph paper with lined ruling, and deliver the benefits of both types of ruling on a single sheet of paper. Clever, indeed.

Whether you will personally find it useful, of course, depends largely on what you do on paper. If you find yourself switching back and forth a lot between lined ruling and graph ruling, this could be just the ticket for you.

I think the "grid + lines" formula, as it's called on the Doane Paper website, is a better way of of combining the two functions than dot grid paper, which I think is also an attempt at merging them. I find it next to impossible to write in straight lines on Rhodia's dot grid paper, so I use it — the giant no. 38 size — only for drawing diagrams for project plans or to sketch out the relationships among different facts or concepts in a case.

That said, there are some things I would prefer were different on this pad, but they are purely personal wishes. Here's the layout, in a snippet of a picture from the Doane paper website:

Design detail from the Doane Paper website

You'll see that this layout means a spacing of 3/8 of an inch between the heavier horizontal lines. That's much wider than most lined paper; uncomfortably so if you're used to ruling around 1/4 inch or less. And it's really not practical to write across anything but the heavier lines. Unless your writing is very large, you're likely to see a lot of white space left on the paper, leaving you feeling like you could have made better use of the page real estate. I'd also prefer that those heavier lines were not quite so heavy. This would not only merge the "grid + lines" concept a little more, but perhaps make it feasible to write on every other line, rather than just the heavier ones.

But these comments are quibbles. The bottom line is that this paper does provide a great deal of versatility. (Hey, I'd also prefer Rhodia change their graph ruling to 6 mm or 1/4 inch, but I don't expect them to do it just for me.)

In any event, the company makes it easy for you to try out this ruling before you buy. PDF downloads are available at the Doane Paper website (look for the DOWNLOAD section near the bottom right of the home page). I suggest you take a good look around the website, which offers a number of notebooks and pads with the Doane Paper layout, and even some leather products.

As for other details . . . usually, I try to use my reviews to fill in the holes of the product descriptions you usually find online, so you have a better idea what you're getting. But there is little for me to add in this case, because the Doane Paper site does such a good job of letting you know what you're getting with this product, including the type of things that can surprise you with other brands.  Besides giving you the basics — telling you that each pad in the 3 pads-for-$11.95 package (a fair price, if you ask me) has 50 sheets of 20-lb. bond paper — you're also told that the paper is ruled on only one side (which I haven't seen since those green engineering pads I used at USNA, which were designed to be used on the reverse side from the ruling), and that while the entire pad is 8.25 in. x 11.75 in. (A4), each sheet is only 11 in. long once removed from the pad.  That last one, especially, is helpful. I've run across many pad descriptions that make it impossible to know what the dimension of the separated sheet will be.

The 11 in. length once torn from the pad is helpful if you're in the USA, because it is the same length as letter-sized US paper. No need to fold or cut to get it to fit in the file.

Even though you know from the product description that the ruling is only on one side, it still seems weird when you get the pad and see it. I'm not sure I get why the pad is designed that way, unless it's because the paper is so thin that it would be hard to have ruling printed on both sides unless it is lined up exactly with the other side.

If you're used to using a Doane Paper flap jotter and think one of these pads is for you, be forewarned (as you are, if you pay attention to the product description when ordering) that the paper in these pads is very different from the jotter. The former has 60-lb. paper; the pad has 20-lb. paper, so you're in for a big disappointment if you're not ready for that difference.

Unlike the 60-lb. paper in the jotter, which performed well with all sorts of inks and has a great feel to it, the 20-lb. paper in these pads has the feel of every day office paper and is not a good match for any ink that tends to feather or bleed. Most fountain pen inks I tried did plenty of both on this paper. Some of the rollerballs bled, too (the Tombow Object 0.7 mm being the worst). But none of the roller balls or gel pens feathered, and the gel pens barely ghosted through to the other side at all. Then again . . . does bleedthrough matter when there's no ruling on the other side anyway?

Overall, I really like the concept of this paper, and will find myself using it to sketch out relationships that do not require the room of the Rhodia no. 38. But I'm not likely to use it for straight notes; it would take me a good deal of time to get used to writing on lines 3/8 in. apart.

By the way, I tried to read up on Chad Doane a little more, and was very surprised to see that there was no Wikipedia entry either for him or for Doane Paper. How can that be? You can gain a little insight, though, through this post at Wantist and the post about him in the "What's on their desk?" series at Office Supply Geek.

The Giveaway

Entries are now closed. The following procedures will no longer work.

I am giving away two of these pads, one to each of two winners. If you'd like one, here's how to enter the giveaway. (Please note there are some differences from Monday's giveaway.)

You can enter by email, by commenting, or by both. It's perfectly OK for you to enter both ways. Not everyone is necessarily going to take the time to do that (very few did on the first giveaway), so entering both ways may increase your chances of winning.

To enter by email, send an email to me at notebookeresqATgmail.com, with the following word, and ONLY the following word, in the subject line:

Lower case or upper case doesn't matter, as long as your email reaches me by 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Wednesday morning, September 5. You may send only one email per person.

To enter by commenting, click in the comment field, then use one of the login methods displayed or click in the NAME field to comment as a guest. Please note that if you log in using Twitter or Facebook account, I will not have your email and will not be able to contact you directly if you win. In that case, you'll have to return to this post to see if you are the announced winner and claim your prize. No matter how you sign in to comment, and even if you comment as a guest, your email will not be displayed with your comment. Your comment must be timestamped no later than 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, Wednesday, September 5.

Good luck, and check back tomorrow for giveaway number 3 in Booker-Palooza 2012. Remember,  each of the giveaway posts this week goes up at 12:01 a.m. and the sign up period on each is only 24 hours, so you'll have to check back every day to make sure you don't miss your chance at something interesting.

UPDATE: Congrats to Plum Dragon and Millicent, each of whom will soon have a Doane Paper A4 Writing Pad on it way to them!



  1. I would love to win one of these pads. I'm interested in seeing if the paper is much worse in that format.

  2. I have many good things about these pads and very much like to try one. Thank you for the opportunity!

  3. I have always wanted to try Doane paper.

  4. Emailed, you and commenting here. Always wanted to try this paper, too - thanks!

  5. oh sweet.. want to try this out..

  6. I haven't yet had the chance to try it out - maybe this is it :)

  7. DOANE please and Thank you!

  8. I've always wanted to give Doane Paper a try, so I'd love to win one of these pads - and of course I can always use more paper!

  9. I would love to try this.....Thanks.

  10. You can't get this paper where I live ! This could be my chance! Thank you so much for the giveaways!

  11. I've been wanting to try this paper!

  12. I've always wanted to try this!

  13. I would love to try some Doane paper!

  14. It's on my list of things to try, a freebie makes it even better!

  15. I would like to try the notepad. I have the heavier weight paper. The lines are good for me, by the way, because I use italic handwriting.

  16. I'd love to win one--how thick is the paper?