I didn’t think I was going to make it into Walmart this year, and frankly I wish I hadn’t. That’s a whole other story. When I did finally make it to Wally World, well, it was nearly empty of school supplies. Generally this Walmart has a lot of stuff left over and has clearance shopping carts full of pencils and other items for 10 cents. Not this year. The school supplies looked as though they had done minimal ordering and what was left the week before school was not a lot.
Mostly they had a great deal of Norwood poly covered composition books. Which I didn’t purchase due to their paper being ideal for pencils, ballpoint, and okay with gel, but abysmal for fountain pen. Plus, that poly cover was against the rules for this year’s round up. I did some searching, and digging and walking into the regular office and stationery section of the store to find the only box of card covered college ruled composition notebooks.
This is less a round up and merely a single review.
Pen + Gear Marbled Composition Notebook
At a mere 50 cents these are on par with the cheapest pricing I found this year. At 100 sheets they are among the fatter composition notebooks. The marbling has a good visual balance of dark to light and the spine tape is perfectly proportioned. The branding is a tad large and not well integrated into the front label area, but not awful. The barcode area on the back is okay as well.
The cover is abysmally thin. The whole book is floppy. This is the first time I’ve wondered if a cover will actually hold up to regular use in a bag. I like a thick card cover but I’m okay with a thin cover IF I think it will hold up. I question this one. It’s that floppy and thin. If it catches on anything in a bag it will fold and crease. This might be a good excuse to get a nice cover for your comp books. Etsy is filled with them.
Inside the 100 sheets are smooth but toothy to the touch, letting me know without even testing this paper will be killer with pencil. And it was. I tested with a few pencils and they all performed really well. This paper feels as good with pencil as the Yoobi paper, if a touch smoother. It takes little effort to get a dark even line, pencil glides over the surface. Ballpoint does great as does gel ink.
Things started to go downhill when I pulled out the fountain pens. Every nib showed some ink spread and the barest hint of feathering. The pens felt good on the page. Flipping the page showed a great deal of bleed on every nib except EF with well behaved inks. This is a composition notebook for pencils, ballpoint, and gel pens. While a fountain pen can be used, you’d be stuck using one side of the page only. Which, admittedly, is how I use a comp book, but I like to be able to use the verso of each page for notes on the facing page. I wish I were able to suggest this as a good comp book, but it just isn’t.
You are much better off looking for other brands at Target or other places. Wally World’s composition notebooks are a bust this year.