Explaining the new Habana paper

I woke up the other morning to find a post on Quo Vadis blog about coming changes to the paper in the beloved Quo Vadis Habanas. Currently, they contain Clairefontaine 90g smooth white paper, but it will be changing very soon to 85g off-white. This caught a lot of us off-guard and is causing a bit of an uproar for hardcore Habana enthusiasts. The large lined Habana is my favorite journal in existence, and the change comes as a surprise to me, and my immediate reaction was fear of losing a great journal. I immediately called Exaclair to find out what in the world is going on.

Here are some major points about the paper switch, I’ll just blast them out bullet-style here:

  • The paper will still be smooth, fountain pen friendly, and made by Clairefontaine in France.
  • The overall size, dimensions, page count, binding (ability to lay flat), cover and rulings will all remain the same. I’m unsure about the small lined rulings will be in the new paper though (currently it’s 5mm).
  • The Habanas sold in the US and Canada will be made in the Quo Vadis plant in Hamburg, NY; the rest of the world’s Habanas will be made in France.
  • Even though there will be two different plants making Habanas for the world, they will all be identical (unlike in previous years where the ‘US version’ was different than all the others).
  • There will be no more blue or taupe lined Habanas; the lined Habana color lineup will be identical to the current blank Habanas in black, red, anis green, and raspberry.
  • All of the Habanas, blank and ruled, large and small, will have the same 85g off-white paper.
  • The prices will remain as they are for 2011, $20 list for the large, $15 list for the small. From what I understand, this was a factor in deciding to change the paper.
  • The Habana was actually originally intended to be off-white paper 2 years ago. A mix-up sent the wrong paper to Hamburg when the Habanas first were produced, so they went with white paper. It has been slated to be changed since last year, though it was never highly publicized.

The most worrisome thing for me is the paper quality. When I read the Quo Vadis Blog post, I thought they were giving up the well-performing ‘US version’ 90g paper to go back to the less-than-ideal 80g paper that has been used in Habanas outside the US, but I’ve been assured this is not the case. The 85g paper is only slightly thinner than the 90g (hardly noticeable, apparently), and I’m told is identical in smoothness and ability to accept fountain pen ink as the current 90g paper. I’m still unsure as of this post about the actual shade of the off-white paper. I don’t know if it will be identical to the Rhodia Webnotebook paper, or perhaps something a bit more ‘cream’ colored. I’ll update when I know.

Supposedly this change is going to be happening very soon, right at the beginning of 2011. They are no longer making any more of the 90g white version Habanas, so what is in Exaclair’s warehouse is what is left. There have already been some fans who’ve been stocking up on the white-paper Habanas, I know I’ll be setting a few aside for my own personal use. Of course the flip side is that many of you who were waiting to try them will now want to avoid them, as you don’t want to fall in love with something that will no longer be made!

Reactions of the announcement have been mixed. I think some of the initial shock is caused by misunderstanding, which hopefully I’ve helped to clear up here. I know how deeply personal finding just the perfect journal is, and when you’re told it’s no longer going to be available it is a very sad thing to hear. I have personally been more affected by the announcement than I thought. I found myself actually grieving the first couple of days after I heard the news. I was planning to post this article on my blog on Saturday, but simply couldn’t bring myself to do it because of the strong emotions I had. Crazy right? I felt like some kind of lunatic getting so emotional over paper. Logic tells me it’s just a notebook and I should get over it, but I found myself emotionally distraught over the announcement that my ‘holy grail’ journal will be changed.

I do hope that the new ones are up to the paper performance of the existing ones. I am making an effort to keep my mind open to the change, at least until I see the new Habanas for myself. I know the reactions of many have been quite disappointed, even with the explanation of the reasons for the change. If there’s one thing Exaclair has done well in the past, it’s listen to the loyal fans of the brands they carry, and I’m willing to bet if enough of us demand the white paper back, we just might get it. Do please share your thoughts where they can see them here in the comments of this post in Quo Vadis Blog.

What do you think of the change?

2017-10-06T18:00:30+00:00 December 20th, 2010|Paper Reviews|20 Comments
  • 90g to 85g paper means nothing to me. If 10g paper works well with my pens, all the better. Weight is not the end all and be all. I am more than willing to take Exaclair at their word that this is fountain pen friendly paper.

    It's the very white paper that I'll miss. I have two v2.0 Webbies (one large and one small). The binding doesn't bug me, but the paper color honestly does. If this paper is more than very slightly off white, it is doubtful that I will like it. Out of respect for Exaclair's outstanding service, I plan to check out the new product and to give them my feedback. I have already told them how I feel, but they're right to dismiss those thoughts until I give the new product a fair shake. This wouldn't be the first time in the world I have been upset about changes to a product only to prefer the new version.

  • Thanks for clearing this up and for keeping all of us Habana-lovers updated.

    For the record, I don't think you're a lunatic. I had a similar reaction when I first heard the news. I haven't quite cried but I have most certainly gone through a grieving process. Finding the perfect journal is hard work; it's upsetting when all that work is undone by a change in product or, worse, discontinuation.

    I'm disappointed that there will be no more blue Habanas. They were kind of cool. And I'm more than a little worried at how quickly this is all happening. They didn't give us much time to adjust!

    I'm hoping that the new Habanas will perform just as well. I will probably sample one once it's available. I know it's not the end of the world, but I will be crushed if the quality has noticeably diminished. If there's a God, I'll be able to nab a few more current version Habanas before they disappear for good.

  • You may know I, too, had a pretty strong emotional response to this change. For me color change is a deal breaker on the Habana and I will sulk back into more affordable notebooks like the Basic. I have no reason to walk away from Clairefontaine whhich I believe is a great paper company! But I will not be chasing after the Habana. (This may still be my grief talking?) Hope they do well w/it. Am glad they are continuing to employ people in Hamburg, NY too.

  • You said a mouthful right here: "Of course the flip side is that many of you who were waiting to try them will now want to avoid them, as you don't want to fall in love with something that will no longer be made!"

    I almost went to the Habana this Christmas instead of the Webbie. I bought a 2.0 Webbie and they canceled that, but I knew it when I bought it. No difference in paper, just some cosmetics.

    You now understand my fear with the Clairefontaine loose leaf. I bought some from another vendor, because I missed buying yours before you sold out. They are swearing they'll be able to keep it in stock…but I have no confidence lol.

  • Wilson, the loose sheets are a different story. They're regularly made by Clairefontaine, but not imported into the US. The reason we had them for a while is because we made a special purchase of them from France, which needs to be done in huge quantity.

  • Hi Brian. The comments should ease your mind that you're not a crazy lunatic getting so emotional over paper. That is, unless we all are!! I find it comforting that other people have the same affinity for the lovely stuff.

  • I don't want to become an instantaneous outcast, but I usually only use 20g paper, and that works just fine for most of my pens. Of course, all of those pens it works for are my daily writers, and the ones it doesn't work so well on are not, but…

  • I don't think the paper thickness is really the big deal as much as the color change. I'm going to remain open-minded until I see the new Habanas.

  • I'm finding that I can deal with the change from 90g to 85g if it doesn't affect how my pens write. But I already have Rhodia Webnotebooks. As awesome as they are, I liked the Habanas too, partly because they were white instead of ivory. Now they sound like they'll become oversized Webbies so what's the point in getting them? (for me, at least)

  • Nathaniel

    While I am sad to see my beloved 90g Habanas go away, I am optimistic and most curious about the new 85g paper. Perhaps it will provide a dry time closer to what I find on the 80g Rhodia pads but with the smoothness of the 90g CF paper, to which I am hopessly addicted. I enjoy the weight, feel, and even smell of the 90g paper. I am sensitive to these traits on a deep, aesthetic level while writing or journaling. Hopefully, none of these subtle qualities will be lost on the 85g.

  • Nathaniel, though I haven't seen the paper for myself, I'm assured by Exaclair that the paper is no downgrade. I am really really eager to try it for myself, you can get a comparison and torture test is going to happen! 😉

  • VittorioJC

    I just had to comment on this! I just recently became a fan of the Habanas due to the white paper. I got a Webbie around the same time to compare and while both had great paper, my ink colors just looked so much nicer on the white paper, plus they have a slightly more comfortable size. This is sad news to me.

  • Nathaniel

    It seems a light heavyweight bout is in order. 🙂 Let the papers clash, ink for ink and by the gallon. Can't wait to see the video.

  • I wish I could say that I was surprised that there was an uproar about a slight paper change. But sadly it seems that FP lovers are an extremely short fuse emotional type. It's more funny than serious that someone is upset about a paper change.

  • I just got the taupe Habana I bought on Friday (living in Virginia may mean sales tax is collected by Brian on my order, but it also means I get it quickly!). It is really nice. I'm particularly glad I chose it now that I know the cover will be discontinued. It is also puzzling to me that they're eliminating that color in particular because it would have very likely looked good with the color paper.

  • Jimmy James, yeah, it was kind of a surprise for me too. But honestly I kind of was wondering about the cover colors once the black Habanas came out this past summer, how blue and taupe were replaced by anis green and raspberry.

  • Same old story all over again for me. I find a paper I really like and set it aside for special purposes and Wham! somebody decides to make a change. WHEN WILL IT STOP! The day after I'm dead, I think.

    Now for myself, I wanted a shelf full of notebooks filled with the journals of my life. I started using a beautiful leather covered book with the nicest slightly cream slick paper in the world. Any and ever ink I laid down on the paper was accepted, dried realitively fast and never washed away with a drop of coffee or water or damp fingers. The books went with me everywhere I went for an overnight. (I write in the morning.) after several years I switched from lined to blank. Then as time passed they gradually switched up the paper till it is now a toothy paper, overly cream colored and not as pleasing to write on or to accept ALL inks. So I moved into Habana's! I've been happy with them. The first one was a pocket size sample Karen Dougherty sent me to review. I loved it and still love the US version. And here we go again on the Not so happy, merry-go-round of change. I know life is about growth and change, but why in Heavens name do these things have to be changed. Yes. . . to you nay sayers who think a change in paper ought not matter. . . because it does! It's like having your prized pen and ink yanked out from under you and being told you can only use black ballpoint or pencil.

    Karen – please, don't let this paper change happend. Tell them the REVOLUTIONIST want it our way! We love our french paper and we want our Habana's to remain 90gm WHITE, like the white in the American flag!

  • I'm finding that I can deal with the change from 90g to 85g if it doesn't affect how my pens write. But I already have Rhodia Webnotebooks. As awesome as they are, I liked the Habanas too, partly because they were white instead of ivory. Now they sound like they'll become oversized Webbies so what's the point in getting them? (for me, at least)

  • Nathaniel

    It seems a light heavyweight bout is in order. 🙂 Let the papers clash, ink for ink and by the gallon. Can't wait to see the video.

  • Nathaniel

    While I am sad to see my beloved 90g Habanas go away, I am optimistic and most curious about the new 85g paper. Perhaps it will provide a dry time closer to what I find on the 80g Rhodia pads but with the smoothness of the 90g CF paper, to which I am hopessly addicted. I enjoy the weight, feel, and even smell of the 90g paper. I am sensitive to these traits on a deep, aesthetic level while writing or journaling. Hopefully, none of these subtle qualities will be lost on the 85g.