Apica CD11 A5 Notebook

Hypothetically speaking, were I someone who walked through their local CBD bookstore’s stationery section more than say, a couple of times per week (who does that?), I would have noticed the Apica Notebooks display stand.

I might have also watched as the stocks slowly dwindled, perhaps picking up an A5 size in a mustard yellow — one of the last remaining colours. Of course, I then perhaps noticed the very next week, stocks were replenished with just about every colour available in the range — I mean I’d know that if I were someone who walked in looking at the notebooks all the time.

What I can confirm, is at the time of writing, there is a nice range of Apica Notebooks in different sizes at this particular store. That’s the word on the street anyway.

Look and Feel


IMG_4584The Apica CD11 Notebook, is an A5 (148 x 210mm), soft cover notebook with a distinctive, traditional looking cover design. Made of flexible textured card stock with tape reinforcement along the spine, the overall look harks back to times gone by.

Although not my favourite, the mustard colour has certainly grown on me, and is only a stone’s throw from the colour of the Baron Fig Three Legged Juggler limited edition I finished a couple of months ago. I’m not sure what it is with me lately, however you might recall a recent review of the Delfonics Rollbahn notebook which I also purchased in — uhh… yellow.

FullSizeRender 19Back to matters at hand. As listed in the specifications below, the CD11 is a 28 sheet or 56 page notebook, so although a little larger in overall dimensions, thickness-wise is similar to a Field Notes Arts & Sciences edition, which runs 32 sheets or 64 pages. The Apica CD line does includes a smaller pocket-size — the B7 sized CD8, and would be well worth considering if a very fountain pen friendly pocket-sized notebook was of interest to you — great value at $AUD2.75 for 72 pages.

The cover is adorned with a nice border pattern and a few words from the manufacturer. The Most advanced quality and Gives best writing features inscriptions I can live with, however I am not one to write any details such as my name, contact or the like on a front cover. At best I might put the start and end dates or a specific topic if relevant for the book, however the fact it remains blank with half the notebook used is probably telling on this point as far as my preference goes.

FullSizeRender 18

From (L): Field Notes Two Rivers & Arts and Sciences; The CD11; Baron Fig Confidant Three Legged Juggler Edition

Overall, I do rate the design highly, and although very thin and light, still affords the feeling of a quality product.


Courtesy of the fine folks at JetPens, whose specifications tab on products never fails to provide just about every specification you’d care to know.

  • Model: Apica CD11
  • Manufacturer: Apica
  • Country of Origin: Japan
  • Weight: 2.6 ounces (74g)
  • Binding: Thread
  • Cover Material: Card stock
  • Cover Type: Softcover
  • Line Spacing: 7 mm
  • Number of Lines: 25
  • Number of Sheets: 28 (56 pages)
  • Paper Weight: 80 gsm
  • Perforated: No
  • Refillable: No
  • Sheet Style: Lined
  • Size – Depth: 0.3 cm
  • Size – Length: 21 cm
  • Size – Width: 14.8 cm

The notebook you see was purchased at the Brisbane CBD Dymocks bookstore for $AUD5.50. It can also be purchased online in six different colours from Australian retailer Bookbinders Online for $AUD3.95, or in the US from JetPens for $USD1.75. For a single purchase, I certainly could not have had one delivered all up for less than $5.50, and was happy to pay the store retail.

There are no bells and whistles here. The CD11 contains no sleeves, pockets, elastic enclosure, perforated pages or other paper ruling options. There is no numbering or pre-formatting on any of the pages. This is a traditional, 7mm lined notebook with a blank margin at the top of those 25 lines. If you have a preference for blank or dot grid pages, this may not be the notebook for you.


This is a straightforward, high quality product, at a very competitive price — which handles fountain pens very, very well. If that sounds like something you would be interested in — and I believe many would be, then I don’t believe too many of the other features are all that necessary.

Writing Performance

The 80gsm paper of the CD11 reminds me very much of a Clairefontaine Essentials cloth bound A5 Notebook I own. Apart from the 90gsm paper, the major difference of course being the Clairefontaine’s 192 pages. For that reason I have never really had any great affinity for carrying it with me – it just feels too heavy and bulky.

When used with fountain pens, the CD11’s acid-free off-white paper handles almost everything you can throw at it, with the exception of the tiniest bit of feathering on wetter nibs and inks. Here your own experience might vary a little, as my pens are typically on the medium to fine side. The pictures tell a better story, with no bleed through and only minor show through apparent on the reverse of the pages. Rollerballs and ballpoints were handled with ease, however I suspect avid pencil users might want paper with a little more tooth to it perhaps.

FullSizeRender 16IMG_4578IMG_4579

If you are thinking of picking one of these up, you can count on using most if not all of your pens, and you’ll certainly be using both sides of the page — something which I see as important when you only have 56 to play with. As far as ink drying time is concerned, as expected with paper like this it does take time, however I found it a little faster than your average Rhodia pad and the Clairefontaine notebook I mentioned above.

I have very much enjoyed writing in the CD11. The fountain pen experience is top notch, the 7mm grey lines are perhaps a little darker than I might like, however these soon disappear when surrounded by words. The combination of the thread binding and small number of pages, also ensure the CD11 will lay completely flat when opened. IMG_4597Here I mean completely flat, as the softness of the spine makes for a simple bend backwards upon opening, and you have something as flat as a sheet of looseleaf paper on the desk in front of you. Closing after this? As simple as running your fingers down the spine as though you were folding a sheet of paper and the notebook will almost completely close — certainly good enough for me.

Closing Thoughts

IMG_4582I have thoroughly enjoyed using and would highly recommend the Apica CD11 notebook. It has been in use as my writing and summary notebook for a little over a month now — that is, for slightly longer writing sessions calling for more than a pocket-sized notebook.

There are three main points I keep coming back to when I think about whether I’ll buy another of any particular notebook. Whether it is fountain pen friendly; opens flat; and is light and easy to carry. The CD11 more than fits the bill on all three fronts.

When I try to get some writing done in my lunch break, I carry one pen (fountain); my iPad mini (plus or minus Logitech keyboard cover attached); FullSizeRender 17and a notebook. The lighter the notebook the better, and I have not found one better in this regard, and to have it accept whatever fountain pen I’m using at the time perfectly when I get to my cafe destination — just brilliant.

Sure, I’ll buy and try other notebooks, and yes I do like dot-grid as well, however the CD11 is one of those I’m sure I’ll return to when I just want to use a high quality, well designed, value for money product, built for a specific purpose at which it excels.

Just remind me not to buy another yellow one will you?

One thought on “Apica CD11 A5 Notebook

  1. Pingback: Sunday Notes and Links | Fountain Pen Quest

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