I reviewed the Baron Fig Askew awhile back (you can find that review here), and thought I would take a minute to show you the standard Confidant edition. I bought mine at baronfig.com. I got the Flagship size, light grey, in dot grid. The Flagship size is 5.4" x 7.7". The dot grid is spaced at 0.5cm.
Two colors available: light grey and charcoal
Three sizes available: pocket. flagship, and Plus
Styles available: blank, ruled, or dot grid
192 pages, 12 pages at the end of the notebook are tear-outs.
Paper: off white color, 90gsm.
I like the box, it's a nice extra touch since most notebooks just come in plastic shrinkwrap.
The Confidant is just a little bit shorter than the Rhodia Webnotebook, and just a tiny bit more narrow. It does not have an elastic closure.
A lot of reviewers have mentioned their bookmark fraying a lot, but I haven't had any problem with that. When I do notice bookmarks that fray, I either burn the edge, use a little bit of clear nail polish on the end, or use fray check. So far this bookmark has stayed together well.
I liked the light gray cloth cover at first, but it's so easily stained. I already spilled some ink on it. I know the longer I have this the more stained and dingy the cover will get.
When I first pulled the notebook out of its box, the cover was perfectly straight and tight to the book. The very first time I opened the book the cover on the spine warped and puckered. I really don't like this. I can get over the staining on the cover, but I want the cover to at least stay straight.
The Baron Fig website advertises that the note book opens completely flat. In their pictures, it lays completely flat to the table. I haven't had that experience. I think it does lay rather flat, but not as well as some other notebooks I have.
When I first got the notebook, it stayed closed, but after using it a few times, it no longer closes flat-it always stays a little bit open. Since the notebook can't stay closed on its own, I wish it had an elastic strap closure to help keep it closed. I've never been a fan of the elastic closures, but this notebook really needs one to help it along.
When I first get a notebook, the very first thing I do is put some fountain pen ink on a page to see how it handles. The colors are random samples I had on my desk. There is no coating on this paper, like there is on Rhodia or Clairfontaine, so the ink seeps in pretty fast. On swabs of ink, there is a lot of bleed through, but it stays contained to that page-it doesn't leak onto the next. Most inks don't show sheen on this paper, but a few do on a heavy swab.
The next thing I do is grab a bunch of rollerballs and gel pens that are sitting on my desk and see how the paper does. There will always be a Retro 51 Tornado rollerball, a Pilot Juice 0.5, and a Uni-Ball Signo 0.5 (three of the best non-fountain pens ever made) on my desk somewhere. The paper handled the pens wonderfully.
Next up: markers and highlighters. There will always be a handful on my desk. The paper handled the sharpie better than I thought it would: a little bit of bleed through, but not so much that you couldn't use the next page. It handled the highlighters really well, and had no problem with the Koi brush marker.
I have a mug of sharpened pencils I'm currently using on my desk (wow, my desk sounds cluttered). I really enjoyed using the pencils on this paper; There is just enough tooth to make it enjoyable, but not so much that it's annoying. I did smear the pencil pretty bad trying to get my toddler to leave it alone long enough to take a picture of it. The smearing doesn't bother me, because let's face it-it's pencil. It's going to smear on most papers. I will say that lately I'm having a love affair with Blackwing pencils.
So here's the hard part about fountain pens and this notebook: every ink will behave differently on this paper. I used this notebook to review both Sailor Jentle Sky High and Sailor Jentle Souten. Most people would say that these two inks are pretty comparable. They are similar in color and flow. Just looking at the front of the page, you can see that the inks behaved differently-the Souten soaked into the paper a lot more then Sky High did. Sky High didn't feather at all, but Souten did.
The difference between these two inks is a lot more noticeable when you turn the pages over. Sky High didn't bleed through at all, and had medium show-through. Souten had medium show through, but bled like crazy (even the extra fine nib bled). I reviewed 14 different inks using this paper, and some of them did great, some I would never use with this notebook again. I was surprised that out of the 14, it split exactly in the middle: 7 I would use, and 7 I wouldn't.
Inks I would use: Sailor Jentle Sky High, Sailor Jentle Ultramarine, Robert Oster Tranquility, Robert Oster Aqua, Robert Oster Graphite, Callifolio Andrinople, and Sailor Jentle Nioi-sumire.
Inks I wouldn't use: Lamy Petrol, Montblanc Lucky Orange, Sailor Jentle Epinard, Sailor Jentle Miruai, Sailor Jentle Souten, Robert Oster Sublime, and Robert Oster Blue Water Ice.
Overall, I loved the paper for pencils, gel pens, rollerballs, highlighters, and some fountain pens. I think choosing the right notebook for you is all about deciding which tools you will be using for that project, and picking the right paper for your needs. If you are using rollerballs or pencils more than anything else then you might be happy with this paper, if you primarily use fountain pens, then I would choose a different notebook.
The paper is absolutely better than Moleskine's but not as good as the paper the Askew edition had.
Now the notebook overall: I struggled with the fact that the notebook won't close all the way and had puckering and bunching on the spine.
Here's my two cents: give it a try-it's good enough to warrant the ten page try (if you don't love it by the tenth full page, move on). You might love it, you might not. Am I going to keep using it? Yes, absolutely.