Atoma


Other companies at Insights X 2016 3

To finish my Insights X posts off: a quick look at who else was at Insights X.

Atoma

Atoma was also present at Insights X 2016. I first wrote about them in 2012 and this blog post is to this day the most popular post on my blog.

Atoma at Insights X

When I asked if they have any new products they showed me their new diary system.

Atoma at Insights XAtoma at Insights X
Atoma at Insights XAtoma at Insights X

Please open in a new tab to see the images in high resolution. They come with holder for business cards etc.

Atoma at Insights X

Atoma at Insights X

Platinum

Also at Insights X was Platinum.

Platinum at Insights X

The brought some of their posh fountain pens along, including some with Urushi lacquer.

Platinum at Insights X

Platinum at Insights X

When I asked about mechanical pencils they showed me their OLEeNU+ but weren’t able to give me more information (there clearly was a language barrier, even though they brought a staff who spoke English). The normal OLEeNU (not the plus version presented at the stand) uses the lead up to the last 0.5mm, similar to the Staedtler Integrity mentioned here and reviewed here. It also has a spring to help prevent lead breakage and a sliding ‘sleeve’. The staff from the Platinum counter told me that the OLEeNU+ doesn’t have a sliding sleeve, though.

Platinum at Insights X

Platinum at Insights X

Stabilo

Stabilo presented some new products at Insights X, too. In terms of non-pencil products I liked their pastel coloured pens – the pastel Boss markers looked really good (not sure how it looks on paper though).

The touch smart pencil

The touch smart pencil

In terms of pencils I found their touch smart pencil very innovative. Their ‘touch-screen function adapter’, the red item in the photo above, makes a normal pencil touch screen ready. You touch the screen with the pencil point, but through the clear plastic. It will then register on touch screens. I wonder whether it will work better than existing touch screen technologies, which often need a lot of force to work.

Stabilo at Insights XStabilo at Insights X

 

Other companies

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the Clairefontaine/Exacompta/Quo Vadis, Koh-I-Noor, KUM or any of the other companies. What a shame.

clairefontaine

 

 


Using the Staples puncher with the Atoma system 6

M by Staples arc desktop punch

After my 2012 blog post about the Atoma and the M by Staples’ Arc notebooks1 I have been asked more than once whether the Staples ‘desktop punch’ can be used for the Atoma system.

 

The short answer is that it works well.

Locked for transport

Locked for transport

Why would you want to use a hole puncher2 not designed for your system? Well, it is much cheaper. The Atoma hole punch currently sells for around £140 (~$205; €185), the Staples one can be bought for around £35 (~$50; €45).3

Unlocked

Unlocked

Not surprisingly holes punched with the Staples desktop punch, when used with Atoma discs, seem a bit worse than the original Atoma holes4 – but in my opinion Atoma makes the better notebooks, while Staples makes the affordable paper puncher, so I will stick with this combination.

Atoma punched paper

Atoma punched paper

 

M by Staples Arc punched paper

M by Staples Arc punched paper

The M by Staples arc desktop punch is sturdy and well made in Taiwan and can officially punch up to 8 sheets in one go.

If you want to read more about Staples’ Atoma clone have a look at the Arc It Blog (not updated anymore).

Atoma left, Staples right

Atoma left, Staples right


Price and exchange rates: May 2016

As usual: open in a new tab/window to see the images in high resolution (except the last image).

  1. …to my surprise it is still by far(!) the most popular blog post at Bleistift, even though it is a few years old. []
  2. I know they are not holes, but I will stick to this name for now as it is commonly used. []
  3. I got my Staples desktop punch for my birthday many years ago, so I am not sure, but I think prices were pretty similar at the time. []
  4. I assume that Atoma punched paper, used with a Staples discs, would also be slightly worse than Staples punched paper. []

Staedtler’s posh pencil and Atoma’s posh notebook 12

Expensive pencil purchases

There are two pencil purchases I’ve been thinking about for a while. One of them is a Rotring 800+, but with a price tag of more than £40 I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy it yet1.

Every now and then I check whether I find a good offer for this pencil in online stores, on Amazon and on eBay. Earlier this week I was just checking CultPens again (so far they have been the cheapest store for the Rotring 800+ when taking postage  into account) when I saw an offer I couldn’t resist: Lots, really lots, of ‘free’ items if you buy a Staedtler Initium pen.

 

cultpens-initium

So many ‘free’ add-ons…

The Atoma leather notebook

The most tempting of these ‘free’ add-ons was Atoma’s Leather notebook2. Most tempting for two reasons:

  • I am using my Atoma notebooks on a daily basis, at work and at home, and I really like it
  • and I really like the look and the graceful ageing of tanned leather3

…so this notebook was the reason why I went ahead and ordered the Staedtler Initium pencil.

I think I was probably even more interested than I otherwise would have been because of the recent flood of blog posts about William Hannah’s similar notebook after they sent free samples and discounted samples to many bloggers4.

Drool, so much nice stationery

Drool, so much nice stationery

Staedtler’s premium line

I do love Staedtler products, you might have noticed that this blog has more articles about Staedtler than about any other manufacturer5 but so far I haven’t been very excited about their foray into the world of more expensive stationery, their Initium line. Based on the photos I have seen online I think the Initium fountain pens look like cheap ‘own brand’ pens from a high street stationery chain – I might revise my opinion when I see one in reality, though, photos can be deceptive. The pencil on the other hand looks nice to me, but maybe not >£60 nice. So I went with the mechanical pencil instead. On the photos it looks better than the fountain pen, but I couldn’t really imagine how the clip works – is there a spring like in the Lamy 2000?

staedtler-atoma2

Arrived!

Well, my purchase has arrived now, I just unpacked the items. First impression: The body of the Staedtler pencil looks a bit more plasticy than expected, but overall it looks good. The Atoma leather notebook looks just amazingly beautiful!

staedtler-atoma1

I’m very much looking forward to trying all the items out.

staedtler-atoma3

 


You can read more about Atoma in my 2012 blog post about this system.

  1. I guess I should buy it. In a recent Pen Addict podcast they were talking about a similar situation https://www.relay.fm/penaddict/204 , it all reminds me of a Bavarian movie called ‘The sooner you die, the longer you are dead’ []
  2. Mady by Belgium’s Ruitertassen. []
  3. Think Yo no bi, which reminds me: I just hope my Rustico notebook doesn’t get too dark over time, but based on experience with a leather bag I think I will be fine []
  4. including Scribble, Philofaxy, Pen Paper Pencil and Gourmet Pens []
  5. So fat there are 50 Staetdler articles. Faber-Castell, the number two only has  39 articles at Bleistift. []

Quiet 7

Sorry for the recent inactivity on my blog. I had a few days off over Easter and work as well as the baby (or should I say the toddler) have kept me very busy, too. There are a few half finished blog posts I hope to complete soon.

Work wise a new task / project will start soon. It will probably go on indefinitely, so I am just thinking which of my unused Atoma notebooks I should start using for that task.

I want to go with Atoma as I have often regretted using a Red’n’Black notebook for another project, which meant I couldn’t add sheets afterwards, or add printouts in a meaningful way.

Atoma notebooks

The A5 like size has been very useful in the past, but this time there might be benefits to be gained from being able to squeeze more information on a page – to give a better overview of things – but A4 seems a bit big and imposing for meetings etc. There are also the posh Atoma notebooks (including the Alain Berteau version) I got for my birthday in 2013, but I guess at work they would be a bit out of place…

Any advice?

 


Atoma vs. M by Staples’ Arc 44

About Atoma

I tried to get hold of an Atoma notebook for a while now. Atoma notebooks are quite common in Belgium where they were first produced in 1948. Despite their popularity in their home country they are not very well known outside Belgium, not even in the neighbouring countries. I haven’t seen them in shops in the UK or Germany and some Dutch friends I asked haven’t seen them in the Netherlands either. No wonder: 80% of more than a million notebooks produced every year stay in Belgium. The company behind Atoma did not extend their patent when it expired in the Nineties, so copies are now available from many companies: There’s Levenger’s Circa, Aurora’s Adoc, Clairefontaine’s Clairing, Elba’s Vario-Zipp, Staples’ Arc and there’s Rollabind.

Atoma

Arc

How do they work

The pages of the Atoma notebooks are being held together by plastic discs. The discs are holding the sheets of paper through special Atoma shaped ‘holes’1. You can remove sheets from the notebooks or swap the sheets around, just like you can in a ring binder. One advantage of this system over a ring binder is that the notebook can be folded over. Another advantage is that an Atoma notebook, compared to a ring binder, is using less space because you don’t need the surrounding folder. The ring binder will also take away space even if empty2. One disadvantage of the Atoma system is that you cannot label the spine of a notebook.

Atoma and Arc paper

Where to get them from

There are two shops in the UK selling Atoma notebooks: Craft & Party Direct and Manufactum, but I didn’t order my Atoma notebook from either of them. Craft & Party Direct charge a lot for shipping  and Koralatov and Iain pointed out that they had bad experiences when ordering from this company in the past. Manufactum charge too much for shipping, too, and they have a ridiculous conversion rate for their UK prices, charging UK customers 35% more than for exactly the same product from their other online shops – that is on top of their expensive prices in the first place. Manufactum’s other online shops in Europe are set up in such a way that UK customers cannot order from them – very annoying. This plus other bad experiences3 with them made me avoid Manufactum in this case. In the end I ordered my Atoma notebooks from the International School of Brussels (Link updated). The notebooks were only €2.50 (~ $3.07; £1.96) each and shipping to the UK was free, so I only paid €5 for the two notebooks I ordered. The same order with Craft & Party Direct would have cost me £10.45 (~ $16.40; €13.35), five times as much. Manufactum’s Atoma notebooks are made of more expensive materials, so a direct price comparison wouldn’t make sense. I also bought one of M by Staples’ Arc notebooks in my local Staples4. With a price tag of £5 (~ $7.85; €6.39) it was more than twice as expensive as an Atoma notebook.

The discs: Atoma in blue, Arc in black

Atoma versus Arc

The Atoma A5 notebook is made in Belgium and came with 72 sheets (144 pages) of “ink-loving 90g/m2 ledger paper”.

The A5 Arc notepad is made in China and came with 60 ruled sheets of 100g/m2 paper. I like the fact that it came with a name/index sheet, but I am not keen on the white border on each page.

There is a lot of choice when it comes to covers and cover material, for both, Atoma and Arc. The cover of the Atoma notebook I bought is made of cardboard, while the Arc cover is made of polypropylene.

The paper of the Atoma notebook is rougher. Writing on it is nice and the paper absorbs the ink quickly.  The surface of the Arc paper is smoother, but ink takes longer to dry than on the Atoma paper. The ink doesn’t show through the reverse of the Arc pages as much as it does on the Atoma paper, but both papers are suitable for ink.

The rings of the Arc notebook are bigger, which means they will probably be able to hold more sheets of paper, but that also makes the notebook bigger, even if you don’t use too many sheets of paper. Aesthetically I find the Atoma ring size nicer and more suitable for the number of sheets of paper these notebooks come with.

Atoma (left) and Arc (right) paper

Conclusion

Both notepad are nice. I like the disc binding mechanism as it has several advantages over ring binders. If I had to choose between the Atoma and the Arc I’d go for the Atoma notebook. Not because it’s cheaper, but partly because I am not a big fan of polypropylene covers and prefer the Atoma’s cardboard cover. I also prefer the size and therefore look of the Atoma’s discs. Paper-wise the Arc’s paper seems to be better quality than the Atoma’s paper, but I haven’t used it long enough to be sure. My last reason for preferring the Atoma is that I prefer sheets without such a big white border.


Prices and exchange rates: August 2012.

I would like to thank Sean for the Blackfeet Indian Pencil seen on the last photo.

  1. They aren’t really holes, but I’m not sure what to call them so that it’s obvious what they are. []
  2. By the way, the ring binder and the hole puncher were invented in 1886 by Soennecken, a company previously mentioned in this blog. []
  3. Delivered item not as described, security issues with their web site, … []
  4. I’ll refer to it as ‘Staples’ from now on, not as ‘M by Staples’ []