Showing posts with label Noodler´s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Noodler´s. Show all posts

16 August 2012


The following video clip carries the signature of NHK, the national TV and radio broadcaster in Japan. However, it is far from being merely informative and, in fact, it is an instrument of advertisement and marketing for Pilot’s Iroshizuku line of inks.

It is an unlisted video, and it could disappear anytime. This is a summary of its contents:

The developer of Iroshizuku inks is a woman named Kiyomi Hasegawa, who spent 15 years behind the counter of a stationery shop. Customers, apparently, were looking for a broader variety of ink colors for their fountain pens. That drove her to create these inks as “this kind of product was not available from any other manufacturer”.

Iroshizuku, the speaker says, grabs the essence of Japan, and the beauty of the Japanese language. The ink names are inspired by “visual scenes in Kyoto and in the rest of Japan”. The unique bottle design is hand blown by professional glass blowers. The package is based on perfume products.

To enjoy these ink colors, Pilot developed a demonstrator pen [Pilot Custom 74 demonstrator]. The documentary ends with words about the ritual of inking a pen and about how the pen conforms to the owner with its continued use.

Couldn’t Pilot do better? Other than the empty rhetoric on the beauty of Japan, and on the beauty of the Japanese language, all we have is a collection of inaccuracies, wishful thoughts, and marketing justifications:

These four Iroshizuku inks were released in August 2011. So far, they are the last ones. Currently, there are 21 different colors.

-- Small selection of ink colors? No other company offered fancy-colored inks?
Does that mean Pilot did not know about J. Herbin or Private Reserve, both present in the Japanese market before Iroshizuku inks came to exist in December 2007? The Iroshizuku line started with five bluish hues, and even the Japanese company Sailor, in 2007, had five colors in its catalog, other than the black, blue and blue-black trio. If we spoke of the foreign market, the offer was a lot wider: Rohrer & Klingner, Diamine, De Atramentis, Noodler’s…

-- Hand-crafted inkwells blown by professional glass blowers?
Does this really add any virtue to the ink? Is Pilot only trying to justify the whopping EUR 33 these inks cost in Europe? Maybe Japanese customers do not deserve those hand-crafted bottles, as the domestic price of those inks is JPY 1575.

-- Packaged like perfume?
I guess that is the business model for inks nowadays. Perfumes, after all, generate a lot of profit—make them cheap, sell them expensive—and many a company would be happy with that source of benefits. Needless to say, Pilot can declare its intentions openly, but some of us might find this business model unsettling.

The conclusion is that this might be the future of inks--inks as luxury products. This is really a market driven by cravings instead of by need, and that does not benefit customers at all.

Sailor Profit Realo – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
August 15th, 2012
etiquetas: Pilot, tinta, J. Herbin, Diamine, Private Reserve, Noodler’s, De Atramentis, Sailor

Post scriptum (August 17th, 2012): I wanted to add a link to a blog entry by fellow stylophile Carlos Javier Contreras ( ). On this text, the author analyzes the ink cost of several brands and compares them to the price of a very nice single malt whisky, a product that took 21 years to be produced under very strict conditions. Although the text is written in Spanish, I think there is not any problem to understand the graphs and the tables included on it. Those prices, in USD, correspond to the online shop Pen Gallery (as on April 11th, 2012) and do not take transport fees into account.

11 September 2011

Local Produce

A market driven by collectors is bound to being irrational. And indeed, anything can happen when the actual needs give way to cravings.

Fountain pen inks are one such example. There are many inexpensive inks in the market, and many of those brands offer a very wide selection of colors. However, the business of fancy inks packaged like exquisite perfume is flourishing despite their color charts or their intrinsic quality might not be different from those cheaper ones. Diamine in Europe and Noodler´s in North America could easily be the rational inks of choice if we only paid attention to the actual price per milliliter of ink. And sure enough, their selection of colors is wide and rich—wider, actually, than those by most other brands.

Ink selection in a shop in Tokyo.

Japan, paradoxically, might have a more limited market. Paradoxically I say given the fascination felt in the West for dyes made by Japanese companies. The big three pen companies –Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor— have inexpensive inks for the domestic market, but with a very limited selection of colors. Interestingly enough, the cheapest ink in Japan, other than buying 350 ml bottles by Pilot, is the German-made Pelikan 4001 series.

The table shows the local prices of the inks mentioned on the text. Figures in bold face show the local prices in the local currency for those inks. The exchange rates used for the currency conversions are those of September 11th, 2011, as shown on the following table

The motto “think globally, act locally” might also be a good idea for the ink business in order to regain some common sense. Think globally to be aware of the market variations, and act locally to keep your buying power in good health.

(Platinum Pocket Pen, Atelier Yamada – Pilot Blue Black)

Bruno Taut
September 6th, 2011
[labels: Mercado, tinta, Noodler´s, Pelikan, Diamine, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum]