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?