Habana news

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Habana news, hot off the presses!

In 2011, we’ll be switching our Habana notebooks over to the same paper as Quo Vadis France. The ones we sell in North America will still be made in the US, but they’ll now contain ivory colored paper that’s 85g in both small and large (and lined and unlined) versions.

The decision was made in the interests of international standardization.

I know people have strong preferences when it comes to white vs. ivory, and all Clairefontaine brand notebooks will continue to be filled with bright white paper — as will the Rhodia pads, though the Webbies have ivory paper. If you’re looking for a notebook that’s got white paper AND a Habana type cover, keep in mind that you can get much the same effect with a Clairefontaine basics notebook and a leatherette planner cover. I’ll be experimenting with other planner cover/Clairefontaine combos in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, we don’t yet have any samples of the new Habana, but I’ll be sure to post more information and updates as soon as we do…

UPDATE: If haven’t already seen it, please check out Karen’s comment about the switch, and our future plans.

63 thoughts on “Habana news

  1. I have now used both the Old and the New. White vs. Ivory. I like the thinner lines of the new Ivory Habanas, but please give us back the white paper. My inks look so much better on the white. For me the Habana is the best. There is no alternative. I like the look and feel of it and the cover. Honestly why would anyone who loves Habanas want to go to Clairfontaine basics? I have used Rhodia webbies but the reason I switched to Habana journals was because of the white paper. It is still a great journal but my inks just POPPED on the white paper, not so much now on the Ivory paper.

  2. I’m not the type of guy who follows this stuff. The only reason I even know something like the Habana exists is because my new (at the time) fountain pen bled through my old notebook. Some googling led to me finding the Habana. To hear that your changing it is disheartening. For me (and seemingly others) it was the perfect product. The weight and brightness and rule of the paper was just right.

    I can’t say that I’m interested in replacing my stack of Habana’s with this new version.

  3. Just another “vote” for bright white paper and narrow lines… Will Brian Goulet’s sales figures for the Habanas during this period serve as evidence that the white paper should come back? 😉

  4. Oh my, sorry for the late comment… but I really hope that you have both white and ivory paper, in pocket and journal sizes. Pocket notebooks are efficient and convenient, journal notebooks are for everyday-i’ve-got-time-to-write moments.

  5. See, I never minded the color options for either the Habana or the Webbie, although a raspberry cover with lined pages would have been nice. I think my only real complaint about the current Habanas has always been: the top margin is freakishly wide on the ruled notebooks. Like, “you could land airplanes on it” wide.

  6. Large size gets the most use, altho’ I also use the smaller.
    White paper is most important.
    Narrow lines are best.
    So long as it’s FP friendly, either 85 or 90. But PLEASE remember there are a contingent who use very broad nibs with wet flow.
    Colored covers are a fantastic visual aid to me as I divide up my projects so I can snatch at a glance. I was hoping the lovely colors available on the blank – green, raspberry, etc. – would be coming for the lined as well. Even tho’ I use mine for my work, I’m so darned tired of boring black…

    But PLEASE get our white paper back with narrow lines and we can work on the rest. I can go back to using the labeller on the spines and covers if I have to. But who on earth decreed black to be the world’s default color? So depressing!!

    Why not use that gorgeous blue color cover to distinguish from the hazmat orange of the Webbie? That color simply shrieks danger to many of us used to industrial uses.

    But remind corporate that the range of colors is darned useful for distinguishing projects at a glance and a grab? If you have to lose anything, those tacky flower covers could go, so far as I’m concerned. Bleagh! Now THAT’S a cover I would never take to a meeting. “So, Omid, tell me more about the insurgents while I scribble in my little girlie book.” I don’t think so!

  7. Thank you for the update, Karen! In response to your question, this is why I like the Habana:
    -the large size journal is perfect for my needs
    -the current, white paper (if the 85g is also FP-friendly, then I’ve got no complaints. The 90g stock is amazing but if the 85g works, then that’s fine by me)
    -ruled or blank pages. I’ve stayed away from the smaller Habanas because of the narrow line rulings. But the width of the line rulings in the larger Habanas is perfect for me.

    Good luck and thank you for keeping us informed!

  8. It is so nice to know one’s concerns are heard! Thank you!

    The product you describe would be just fine – larger size, black cover, narrow rule. Of course it would be nice to have a choice of cover colors, sizes, etc., but those are secondary considerations to me, and I recognize the challenge of providing variety for an essentially limited-market item.

    It’s the bright white FP friendly paper in this form factor that I’m after.

  9. Thanks for continuing to solicit opinions, Karen! 🙂

    Overall, the most important factors for me are bright white paper and narrow (5-6mm) line ruling. The other factors are of secondary importance.

    I guess I’m the odd one out–I prefer the small Habana, with the ~5mm ruling. I like that it’s slightly larger than the Webnotebook, but still small enough to pop in a small purse. However, I have only purchased one large Habana, because I found the ruling to be too wide. If it had ~6mm ruling, I would definitely purchase more of them!

    White paper is a must for me. I don’t care about 85g vs. 90g (I even like the 64g), as long as it’s fountain-pen friendly, like all the other Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper I’ve come across. Different colored covers are nice, so I can use several at a time and know at a glance what topic I’m using it for, but I’m completely fine with basic black. I like the elastic closure to keep the notebook from opening in my bag, but I don’t really care about the back pocket.

    Thanks again for continuing this dialogue!

  10. Thank you to everyone who has posted. I am taking note of each comment. In the event we manufacture a white-paper Habana, am I correct in assuming most people would like a large edition with thin lines on 90g Clairefontaine paper? Or, would you prefer a pocket-size? Black – or another cover color? Thank you for letting me know.

    • If this 85g paper is sufficient for fountain pen quality, it’s fine with me. The weight of paper is not the end all and be all of how well it performs. What I’d think would work well for a white Habana would be:

      * The whitest paper possible
      * Fountain pen friendly
      * Narrow ruled
      * Available in a cover color different from the others to help everybody know what they’re getting. I’m thinking a nice charcoal.

      I think there would be sufficient demand for preparation in both formats, but I personally use the large format.

    • Thanks, Karen, for taking our concerns to the powers that be. Great to know the company is listening.

      Yes, that is exactly what I would prefer. Pocket-size is too small for me. All the colors have been fun but black does seem the most practical.

    • Hi Karen,

      I would prefer the large size, narrow ruled (6 mm) or blank. I do like the 90 g but 85 would be just as good I’m sure. The bright white paper is more important to me than the exact weight.

      I like the selection of colors for the covers. Black is nice to have as a standard choice but I prefer colors for my notebooks.

      Thanks again so much for asking for customers’ input! That’s a big reason why we are so loyal to the brand. 🙂

    • I didn’t get a chance to comment before — too busy rushing to stock up on the existing Habanas! — but count me among the voices of protest & lament over this change.

      I like the blank pages in the large size. The anise green color is awesome but I would be open to other colors (decided to include a pink one in my stock-up order). Black is a little boring for me but if that’s what most people want it’s not a dealbreaker. I actually don’t care one way or another about the elastic closure or the back pocket, it’s the plain cover (unlike the webbie’s prominent logo, ick) & blank white fountain-pen-friendly pages that got me hooked.

    • Hi Karen,and thank you for asking for preferences and letting us know our concerns are heard!

      My strongest preference is for the large Habana with blank white 90g Clairefontaine paper (which I love for drawing as well as writing), then the large narrow lined version with the same paper.

      I’d prefer a variety of colours for the covers, but cover colour is a distant second to the excellent white paper and I could live with only black covers if it was a choice of pretty covers and 85g ivory paper vs black covers and 90g white paper.

      Happiest of Solstices and joyful holiday greetings!


  11. Karen,
    I’d like to echo the appreciation of others in your willingness to be on the front line to interact with us as consumers, especially when having to deliver a clearly unpopular message.

    As I’ve mentioned above, ivory paper is not a deal-breaker for me, and I think I actually stated in an earlier review that I actually prefer the line ruling and size of the Webbie – but I do think that it’s generally in the best interest of any company to try to avoid too much overlap in their product line, and the white paper version had clearly won the loyalty of many. It’s possible that the impact of this preference will not be felt unless (until?) corporate starts seeing a drop-off in sales, so I’m glad this remains an open conversation.

    I have only to add that I’ve had the opportunity to try the heavier weight ivory paper here in Canada, and it is FP compatible, in contrast to the earlier 80 g version, so at least that particular base is covered.

  12. Karen, thank you so much for explaining to us the reasoning behind the change.

    However, I agree with others that the other Clairefontaine notebooks are not equivalent to the white-paper Habanas. I do love Clairefontaine paper, it is absolutely the best. But none of their other notebooks can compare to the cover and other features of the Habana. I have several of the Clairefontaine clothbound and hard bound notebooks, and while the paper is superior the covers can’t compare to the ultra-classy Habana. Also, I prefer narrow lines instead of the wider lines of the Clairefontaine notebooks, so I have to get blank pages instead.

    I’ll hold out hope that the white-paper Habanas will make a comeback some day!

  13. As others have stated, we appreciate the response, Karen, and all you do for us paper people.

    Those of us who love the Habana the way it is do not see that there is an alternative. Alas. Ivory paper is not for me. I thought about stocking up but that’s only delaying the inevitable. Frankly, I resent the need to do so.

    And so I shall go back to a mundane life of non-Habana notebooks. I was never meant for such a highfaloutin notebook life anyway…

    Least anyone think otherwise: I’ll still be using Clairefontaine paper.

  14. Customer service is a lost art. I love that you all have not lost touch with what your fans have to say! Thank you so much for always being so responsive!

  15. Karen,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to craft such a thoughtful response to our comments.

    However, this part of your response misses the mark: “Part of the reason we made the switch is that we felt people who prefer white paper have the option for Clairefontaine’s 90g white-paper clothbound and hardcover notebooks. ”

    While those notebooks may be an option they are not a replacement or a substitute. They do not offer premium covers, they do not offer the narrow ruling, they do not have a rear pocket, and they do not convey the same high-end tactile writing experience. They’re just not in the same league.

    Again, thanks so much for responding. Hopefully we’ll see the white paper return. There really isn’t anyone else offering a product that fills that need.

    Take Care.

  16. Thank you very much for the thoughtful and thorough response, Karen!

    I am very sad about the change, since I strongly prefer the bright white paper (85g vs. 90g doesn’t matter to me, since I use the small 64g Habanas, anyway) and narrow line ruling. Yes, there are lots of bright white Clairefontaine/Rhodia paper options, but none in narrow line ruling–I find the regular ruling of Clairefontaine paper to be much too wide, and Rhodia grid paper is much too “busy” for me. Call me a traditionalist, but I’m not certain I could get used to the dot grid format, though I must admit I’ve never tried it.

    The Exacompta Journey notebook had very narrow ruling, which was perfect, but it’s been discontinued for some time (I just purchased all I could from Pear Tree Pens). As far as I know, the small Habana was the only remaining Exaclair product with a built-in elastic closure (I don’t want to have to keep track of a separate bookmark/elastic band), bright white paper, and narrow line ruling. I could forgo the fancier cover of the Habana, if there was a Basics clothbound or hardcover notebook (without the sharp, pointed corners!) with bright white paper, an elastic band, and 5mm lined ruling. Heck, I could probably even have made do without the elastic band, and attached an elastic strap of my own. I might have been able to make the Roadbook work, but it has 7mm ruling, which is still wider than I prefer.

    At any rate, thanks for continuing to listen to your customers, even if I am disappointed by the ultimate outcomes! I understand it was a business decision, and that there are not enough people with the same preferences as me purchasing your products. Thank you for your timely explanation, and for continuing to advocate for your customers!

  17. Thanks, Karen. Could you please let corporate know that there IS a contingent that buys BOTH the Clairefontaine AND the Habanas? Unless you’re going to stick pockets in the back of the Clairefontaine and give them the rubber bands AND nice covers, I’m basically losing a product. I’ve used the Webbies when I couldn’t get the Habanas or caught a sale, but they were always 2nd best. I don’t “get” the Rhodia fad as they’re always 2nd best products so far as I’m concerned.

    It’s the paper color and narrower lines that makes the difference for me, so I’ll be reluctantly following the Clairefontaine line and NOT rolling to the Rhodia products.

    It’s a pity the standardization was a step backward or sideways or whatever you want to call AWAY from what made the Habanas so desirable. Corporate clanker so far as I’m concerned. And just when the product was starting to gain ground. Whoever made this decision blew it!

  18. Thanks to all for expressing your feelings about the change in paper. I appreciate hearing what you have to say. I also appreciate the commitment I feel in your words.

    The issue about what kind of paper to have in the Habanas has been an ongoing one for Exaclair. For several years we have debated what to do. This fall, we made the decision to make this product with the same paper used in Habanas made in France. The paper is 85g – France upgraded their paper stock to a heavier weight in response to our requests for fountain pen friendly pages. We made the decision to switch to ivory paper primarily for two reasons: for global brand unity and also to expand our manufacturing here in the U.S. Our U.S. or French made products have to compete with high quality products made in much lower cost countries. The switch to ivory will allow us to do more manufacturing for North American sales.

    I have tested the paper with my fountain pen. It works very well. Since I am a lefty, and drag my hand as I write, whatever kind of paper I use is always a disaster(!) I couldn’t tell any difference between the 85g and 90g. Rhodia notepads are 80g, and they perform well with pens.

    Part of the reason we made the switch is that we felt people who prefer white paper have the option for Clairefontaine’s 90g white-paper clothbound and hardcover notebooks.

    QV Habanas are different than Rhodia Webbies. There are more cover colors. The books are sleeker. They are also slightly larger–both pocket and desk.

    Since Exaclair imports and/or distributes Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis and Exacompta, all four brands compete with one another for paper aficionados. The quality is pretty much the same for all. Clairefontaine and Rhodia have a big headstart over Quo Vadis for notebooks, but Habanas have started to get some name recognition and we’re heartened about that. Nonetheless, for the reasons noted above we decided to make the switch.

    The door is never closed for dialog and input. There are still plenty of white-paper Habanas in stock, so the transition will come over 2011. If there continues to be a fierce demand for a white-paper Habana, Exaclair will explore the feasibility of doing a special edition in addition to the ivory.

    • Karen, I appreciate hearing some of the behind the scenes thought process that went into this. I am actually so impressed that I will very likely give this non-white Habana a chance. Being able to do more manufacturing in the first world (particularly here in the States) is a laudable goal.

      I do think this will bear out as a step backward for the product in our (the fountain pen enthusiast) segment of your market, but I do have faith that we are valued by your organization and that we’ll be taken care of.

  19. Both Habanas and webbies are difficult to obtain in my part of the world without paying very expensive shipping costs, so I normally pick them up as treats for myself when I travel. But I did like the Habanas I tried.

    From a business point of view, I realize that those of us who are book and pen nuts really are a niche market (likely even a dying breed whether or not we admit it…), so I understand the need to streamline processes both to save money and to keep prices reasonable. But that still doesn’t change the fact that whenever we lose options, particularly for something as personal and emotional as paper quality and journals, it saddens me.

  20. Hello everyone and thank you for your comments! I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, and in fact Karen is planning a much more comprehensive response for tomorrow.

    The new 85g paper will indeed be just as fountain pen friendly as the 90g we currently use – that’s always a priority. As for the color, we are obviously sorry to disappoint those of who prefer the bright white. Karen will be able to tell you more about the decision, and our future plans, in her post. Stay tuned.

  21. I had wanted to try one of these because they have such a good reputation. Now I won’t because I don’t like ivory paper. It’s a deal breaker.

  22. I have to try one for myself, but I was told by Exaclair today that the 85g paper is NOT the same as the ‘less than ideal’ paper previously used in Habanas outside the US. Supposedly it is smooth, very fountain pen friendly paper, and hardly a noticeable change from the 90g paper (other than the color, of course).

  23. Changing to the 85g paper is what worries me the most. I find most 85g paper journals are not very fountain pen friendly unlike the 90g Habanas. The colour of the paper is less important to me. If I can’t use my range of pens and inks then I won’t be buying Habanas.

  24. A second comment to agree with DizzyPen: the point of the Habana is that it is differentiated by the paper. I like white paper. I don’t like ivory paper. If I wanted ivory paper, I’d buy a Webbie. I think by losing the differentiator you’re losing the reason consumers would buy the product, which is why my comment above – is this just a way to send the Habana away in favor of the Webbie?

  25. I am also disappointed with this change. If it were simply a change from white 90g to white 85g paper, my reaction would be to give the paper a chance. The change from white to something nonwhite loses me. I have a large and a small Webbie. I may buy a dotWebbie as well. That more than covers my non-white paper needs.

    If this extends past the Habana to the planners, I would still buy a 2012 planner because I am loving my 2011 so far. The paper color for a planner is a secondary concern in my book. It is high on the list of concerns for a notebook.

    I predict less of my 2011 paper budget will head the way of Exaclair now. That’s a pity, but I think that goes for a lot of folks.

  26. This is very sad news! My two most favorite features are the white paper and 90gsm weight. I don’t think the 85gsm change will be that noticeable, but ivory paper will definitely be a very unwelcome change. I use the Habanna over the Webbie as my primary journal for this very reason. Please consider offering white and ivory (I can live with 85gsm paper).

  27. Very sad news indeed. If you were giving us an option of 90g Bright White or 90g Ivory, that would be great, but not a change in paper color and a drop in quality too. Please keep us informed if enough consumer outrage might change someone’s mind on this decision. I would be happy to email my frustration to a specific corporate person that doesn’t understand what it means to make your customers happy.

  28. I use both Webbies and Habanas and have to say I’m disappointed with the change. Other than the limited edition covers, the draw for me with the Habanas has been the bright, white paper. I’ll get over it but it’s not good news.

  29. I forgot to mention that I had a review of the Quo Vadis Habana coming up on my blog. I’m going to pull it now. What’s the point getting folks excited about a product that will be discontinued?

  30. Folks don’t want Habanas with 85g ivory paper. They want them with 90g bright white paper!

    The reason someone would chose a Habana over a Webnotebook is because of the white paper. AND, you all are going to reduce the weight of the paper? Why? I certainly hope they will still be fountain pen friendly!

    The CF Basics notebooks with a planner cover doesn’t even come close to the feel of the Habana. Not to mention, the planner covers are not sold separately.

    The fountain pen community is going to be very disappointed with this change. Seem the bloggers already are!

    This is not good news. :\

  31. That’s a shame. I’ll likely pick up a white Habana before they are all gone but after that there’s no point. The Webbies already have off-white 90g paper. 85g off-white paper in the Habana seems like a step back. It was nice having the option of bright white and off-white paper between the two. Sounds like a rare misstep from Clairefontaine…

  32. Oh dear. As much as I love the Rhodia Webnotebooks, I also loved the QV Habanas with the white, 90g paper. Now, what would be the point of getting them?

    As long as the 85g paper is still fountain pen-friendly, I’d be happy. Thank you for letting us know in advance and good luck with the transition!

  33. YUCK! Love the Habana’s bright white paper, as part of the total Habana experience, and I don’t relish the idea of piecemealing something else together to try to replicate it. Guess I better stock up before the good ones disappear. This is very disappointing. I understand about standardization and economies of scale, but really…at this point why have both the Webbie and the Habana? (Or is that the point?)

  34. I’m very disappointed. I prefer Habana notebooks BECAUSE they have white paper. There are so many ivory-paper notebooks out there, Habanas were different because they had white.

    Thank you for giving us the heads-up so we can stock up!

  35. I never got to try a Habana and now I don’t think I will. The only reason I had to try one was that the paper was different from the Webbie I already have. I understand from a business decision point but I preferred the variety.

  36. Oh, my. I’m with Julie on this one. The Basics are fine but the Habana is far more comfortable for writing. Even with large handwriting, I like smaller line-spacing. Paper color is less of an issue for me so on that issue I am happy either way.

  37. I’m actually fine with this news, and not just because I can’t get the white-paged Habana anyways 🙂

    I really do prefer the ivory paper, and if it comes with a narrower ruling (compared to the white wide-rule) I’ll be even happier – the wide rule doesn’t work as well for me.

    I don’t find the ivory of the Webbie muddy at all, and I’ve recently had experiences with cream-colored versions of Habana paper that have worked very nicely.

  38. I am just now beginning my journey in stationary, notebooks. I personally would prefer the ivory paper over the bright white paper. I think ivory paper would give your writing a more classier look.

  39. Noooooo! This is terrible news! There aren’t any Clairefontaine products with such narrow line ruling as the small Habana with bright white paper! I have tried the Webnotebook, and while it’s a great notebook, I much prefer the small Habana. I just prefer white paper. I also prefer the thinner pages. The Basics has much wider line spacing, which is a deal-breaker for me, unfortunately. The small Habana is also thinner than the Webnotebook, which makes it sleek and less bulky. *sigh*

  40. Oh, Leah, how horrible! Are you free to tell us why such a troubling decision was made?

    I love the 90g bright white paper and adore the Havana, and I’mI’m terribly disappointed that the there will no longer be a lovely white notebook to enjoy my inks in.

    (And I wish I had the resources to stock up before it’s too late).

    What terrible and sad holiday news 🙁


  41. Oh dear. I have to concur. The white paper is what made the Habana superior to the Webbies for me. What difference is there now, other than cover colors?

    Trying to put one of the cloth bound Clairefontaine into a cover is missing the point.

    I’ll do it if I have to, but I’ll be one of those placing a huge order before the current version disappears.

    If you must standardize, why not upgrade the paper to the beautiful white of the current Habanas? So much easier on the eyes when using colored inks, as opposed to the muddy shades of the Webbie paper. Nooooooo!

    Sometimes standardization is a mistake. Anyone remember New Coke? Don’t do it!

  42. Can I be honest? I’m rather disappointed. I love the bright white 90g paper in the Habanas (a big differentiator from the Webbies!), and I know many of our customers do as well. I think we’ll be placing an order to stock up on these soon while they’re still being sold.

    I wonder if there will be different cover colors? Oh boy, I hope they are still fountain-pen friendly!

    I really don’t think the Basics staplebound + a journal cover is the same effect. The Habana is known for laying flat, plus it has a different # of pages and sizes. That, and I don’t think you can buy the planner cover without the actual planner refill, correct?

    Hmmm… interesting.

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