28 June 2007

Why Buy an Expensive Pen?

There are two kinds of snobbery. One kind of snobbery comes from purchasing an expensive product. The other kind of snobbery comes from purchasing a cheap product. You see, some people wear their thriftiness on their shoulders as a badge of honor. My brother, for example, drives an expensive Lexus yet, when I speak about expensive watches, he proudly says, "What is the point of buying a $10,000 watch when you can buy one for just $20?" The same applies to pen. Whenever I whip my pens out people usually see the chrome and ask me why I would use an expensive pen.

The reality is that I don't use expensive pens. Many fountain pens cost in excess of $500 or even more and I certainly don't buy any of those. Pens are usually regarded as such cheap items that people usually look at you strange if you buy anything over 50 cents. Pretty much all the pens I use are about $4, which means they're expensive for a pen. Many ask, "Why get a $4 pen when you can get a BIC for just 30 cents?" The thing is, pens are not like watches. Watches usually get worse as you pay more for them. A cheap $200 quartz watch has greater accuracy than an old-fashioned $10,000 mechanical watch, but many watch enthusiasts buy expensive mechanical watches for emotional reasons. Likewise, there are many pen enthusiasts who buy old-fashioned fountain pens for purely emotional reasons, whether it is emotional attachment to a brand or whatever. But I am not one of those people. I buy pens slightly more expensive than your average BIC pen for quite sensible reasons.

Cheap pens are usually bad pens. Their design is influenced by economy, not ergonomics, which means after lots of writing your hands will strain. A poor pen will damage your finger if you use it for a while. I used BIC Cristal pens initially simply because they were the cheapest I could find. My fingers started to bulge in areas that pressed against the pen. Some of my joints have warped a little. These areas are usually hard, inflamed, and bits of skin are starting to fall off. You usually have to press really hard on a cheap pen to get it to write. This means your hands and fingers sustain more strain. So cheap pens are bad for your fingers' health and well-being.

Another reason I don't like cheap pens is because of their leakages. Cheap pens also use cheap ink, which means the ink usually does not dry quickly and it smears all over the paper. It smears all over your hands, on your clothes, and on your desk.

See Norak's Pen Ranking for a list of my favorite pens.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nice post! I hate using cheap pens and only do so when I have to. I have a new pen/pencil review blog at www.criticalscribe.blogspot.com.

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Anonymous said...

Your comparison with watches is completely wrong. Watches are no longer used for telling time, phones have largely taken over that purpose. Instead, watches have become more of an accessory, like jewellery. Mechanical watches are not as inaccurate as you may think, and people admire the craftsmanship that was put into making the timepiece.

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