Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Importance of Pens

My official job title is Senior Bookseller Level 2 (the level 2 bit just reflects time in service and the fact I can deptutise for the manager - nothing so exciting as having collected various gold coins and solved puzzles) unsurprisingly I order, price and sell books, but a large part of my job also involves what I call "playing with stationery" - I get to research, chose, order and arrange all sorts of stationery items. I get sent catalogues from various companies and having meetings with reps where they show off all their best stuff and try and persuade me to stock it - a large part of the persuading process is "samples" I love supplier samples - especially when you bear in mind I stock Moleskine Notebooks and Zebra Pens. And yes I love arranging stationery - even the Moleskine rep himself thinks my spinner is a thing of beauty - arranged by colour and type and size. My pen displays in the slat wall are arranged in to colourful rainbows and type - and woe-betide any hapless customer who tries to test the pens on my carefully constructed posters and labels - I put the little pads of paper out for a reason - gggggrrrrrrrrrrr! (cue angry teacher look while a slide my glasses down my nose and GLARE) - ahem. So I think we have established that I like stationery and possibly that I am a little OCD in this area.

Anyhoo... today was the turn of the rep from Uni-ball Mitsubishi - the meeting got off to a good start when he presented me with my "samples" - 5 pens including a very nice one with violet coloured ink and a flowery barrel - thank you very much!

Many people think a pen is a pen is a pen and there is no need for any fuss - well, it all depends what you want it for. Jotting notes and taking phone messages - a bic or staedtler biro at 35p each may be just for you. Left handed but you like an 'inky' pen? you need an instant dry variety - over £2 but writes like a dream, very smooth  but none of that pesky ink smudging. Prone to mistakes and revisions but can't stand tippex? Try a Frixion Erase - writes like a cross between a biro and an inky pen, but rubs out with the power of friction - the ink itself though is a little 'light'. Arthritis, or prone to cramp from lots of writing?... have you tried a NuSpiral? - ergonomic and spongy grip - very comfortable. There are so many things to consider and I haven't even started on weight and size - I favour a heavier pen for that sense of gravitas and control, I have friends who only like air-light pens...

I digress. Back to uni-ball mitsubishi....

I requested the account and meeting on the basis of....... a mechanical pencil.

yes a pencil.

The Kuru-Toga to be precise, I stumbled across it in The Independent's 'best 50 stationery' and duly checked it out on Cult Pens (I know I know, I've considered getting help - but I'm happy... and anyway it's my job! ) this mechanical pencil has a special mechanism which means every time you apply pressure- thats a movement on the page or pushing down / lifting off) the lead is rotated slightly - this means the point is always kept sharp! You don't get that chiseled lead shape which leads to pasty lines and breakage - GENIUS! And yes it really works, I found out today it took 4 years to develop the design. 4 years on a pencil. But I love it - mine is pink, Ronni has a silver one, and our equally enthusiastic customer Bob just got himself a black one.

but Uni-Ball do alot more than one good pencil - they have one of the best range of pigment inks - which means their pens come in a much wider range of colours at a high quality 'inkyness'. Love it. Can't wait to get a new rainbow display going...

but here are 3 fun Uni-Ball facts for you courtesy of our rep:

1) The FBI use the Signo 207 - this is because you can't wash it out of paper like you can most regular inks (try it - a little bit of nail polish remover and the right technique) - the Signo 207 has the backing of Frank Abagnale (the real life fraudster that the film 'Catch Me if You Can' was based on).

2) Simon Cowell and the other X-Factor judges use Uni-Ball pens, and no, uni-ball didn't pay the show for product placement- they were actually quite surprised.

3) It was a Uni-Ball (I think he said one of the jetstream family) pen which signed the paperwork at the trial of Saddam Hussein - and Saddam used a uni-ball too...

who said all pens were created equal?


  1. Hello Mrs Frog, it's Jude who sometimes plays at Frog's wonderful nights, wonderful to see you on here. I have just started a blog myself and it's a weird world but it's quite fun! Jx

  2. I do love a good bit of stationary myself. Must get one of those pencils!