Staples has often had composition notebooks that were stellar for fountain pens at 50 cents each. In years past you looked for those marked “Made in Brasil.” This year I looked through the stacks and stacks of books and found only “Made in Egypt.” In keeping with my usual purchases I only bought college ruled. This year I also stuck to card covers only. No poly covers. Though the Staples closest to me had many poly covers, they were $1 each.

Staples has also changed up their branding on their store brand items. Nothing is marked “Staples;” it is now TruRed. Why? Who knows. Personally, I liked Staples branding with the single partially bent staple as an icon. The True Red branding leaves me a bit flat…Though I do like the dual open staples on each side.

Both comp books purchased at Staples are TruRed Brand and feature the same flimsy thin cardstock cover printed with wide blotchy marbling. The covers are too thin for writing out of hand. The taped spine is spot on and perfectly proportioned to the notebook. The covers were available in blue, purple, red, and black. All spine tapes were black.

TruRed Graph Ruled

These cost $1.29 and have 80 sheets of graph paper.

The stitching is wide but tightly done and feels secure. All the paper inside is tight and even in the center is perfectly folded.

The ruling is pale blue and 1/4inch, relatively wide for graph paper and my least favorite graph ruling. It is good for writing and bullet journaling. The paper is what I call “composition book thin” and is probably 15lb. It is smooth to the touch but has decent tooth for pencils. Fountain pens feel good on the surface but you won’t be confusing this with Tomoe River paper. Even wide wet pens don’t quite glide over the surface. They feel good, but not great.

The same, good but not great, goes for the performance of the paper as well. Because the paper is so thin there is plenty of show through, but no bleed through. Even a wide wet brush pen didn’t exhibit much in the way of bleed through. Further, there’s no feathering to be seen and just a bare hint of sheen.

These do not perform as well as a Unison graph from Target and at $1.29 they are a lesser value. But in a pinch you can get them at Staples at $1.29 year round. Well that is if you can find them on the shelf.

TruRed College Ruled

These are regularly $0.99 each and currently on sale for 50 cents. There is a purchase limit of 30 at 50 cents.

These feature the same tight well done binding as the graph paper. A little too widely stitched but satisfactorily done. I’ve purchased Staples branded comps in the past with terrible binding. This year’s offerings seemed to be all very well done.

These books sport 100 sheets or 200 pages. The pages are roughly 15 pound, which is standard for composition notebooks. The paper feels smooth but not slick and fountain pens feel good on the page. Again they don’t glide but feel pretty nice. The paper doesn’t exhibit any feathering even with the wettest of my pens and brush pens. Though with the brush pen there is a tiny amount of bleed through at the wettest points. The ink shows a tiny amount of sheen.

Pencils feel pretty good on this paper too. It’s toothy but not sandpaper toothy. Points hold up pretty well but the line even from an HB is decently dark.

Overall if you are looking to stock up on a composition notebook this isn’t a bad choice. The paper feels very nice with most of my pens and pencils. It’s got 100 sheets and is stitched well. The major downside is the flimsy cover. Which will stand up relatively well in a bag, it just won’t allow for out of hand writing. I’m not sure you can get much better than this for 50 cents.

Staples seemed to have far fewer offerings than in the past. I wasn’t able to find other brands of comp books on the shelves or in their more decorative sections of back to school supplies. Overall the BTSS section was pretty disappointing and lacked the vigor found in previous years. Though, can anyone be surprised given last year and the questions many might have about this upcoming school year? After all, is BTS back to school or back to school at home? What does back to school even mean this year?

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