Whenever I review any kind of bound journal, one of my top criteria for a book is for it to both open and lie flat. Some do one or the other, both, or none.
However you choose to write in your book, whether at a table, with it propped on your leg, or by standing and holding it, there is always one hand that is doing the writing. When the book does not open flat – and by flat I mean that the pages are perfectly horizontal with one another with out any indication of the “V” shape shown above, it means that your non-writing hand, does not need to be pushing the down the pages so you can write from the inner crease out to the edge of the page with ease. When the book does not open flat, your other hand is always having to fight to keep those pages down. If the binding does not allow the book to lie flat, you will be fighting both the cover material and the paper.
I am a writer and I love to write. I love writing longhand much more than using a computer keyboard because it feels good to push the pen across the paper and see the words growing organically from the nib. I write with a fountain pen because not only does it allow for effortless writing, but because it adds an additional depth to the overall experience. Ultimately, I want each element of the task whether it be pen, ink, paper, or chair, to be comfortable enough during its use that it does not call any attention to itself in a way that causes me to lose focus.
Finding the perfect journal to meet all of my needs has been a bit challenging… The more brands I try, the more I find features that I want to add to my wish list, but no matter what, if I am going to really enjoy it, it needs to both open and lie flat.
Is a journal’s ability to open/lie flat important to you? I’d love to hear your response either way.
Of note – in all my tests, I’ve found that smaller journals that do not open flat are much harder to work with than larger ones. Smaller books are just harder to hold down and keep open. Bigger books like the A5 hardcover Clairefontaine shown above are a little easier to work with.