Moleskine Monday: More Thoughts on New Products

I’ve been mulling over the news and reactions to Moleskine’s latest product announcements. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at their product development meetings, as I think some of their decisions are a bit … odd.
I started to feel this way several months ago, when the Color-a-Month Planner and Page-a-Day style calendar were announced. The color a month planner is cool, but not executed as well as it could have been. I’m going to do a full review soon, but my main complaints are that the holder for the 12 booklets isn’t very secure and isn’t truly a “box,” and that the 12 booklets themselves have too much repetition of frontmatter. If I had designed this product, I think I would have made it some sort of outside cover with the expanding pocket and pages for holidays, time zone maps, and a full year fold-out planner, and then made it so the monthly Volant booklets could be slotted in one at a time and changed out each month. And they’d have a full 2-page per day spread, with time slots on one side and a notes page on the other.

Then there’s the latest products, the themed, pre-formatted Passions journals and the Folio-size ring binder stuff. I don’t think the Passions series will sell very well, as they’re too specific. They may be bought as gifts but I think most Moleskine users like the open-ended versatility of their notebooks– the blank-slate quality that welcomes creativity, rather than hemming it in with forms to be filled out.
As for the ring binder, this will fill a need but it looks like they’re using an odd ring format that might not be compatible with standard hole punchers. Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but it could be a drawback. The ring-binder, at least, seems to be in response to interest from the Moleskine user community– in one of the Facebook user groups, or perhaps on Moleskinerie, there was a discussion thread about new products people would like to see, and something refillable was one of them. Otherwise, I think many of those ideas have been ignored by Moleskine, which is a shame. One idea I think would be a slam dunk is a chunkier, double-thickness Moleskine. It might not be as pocketable, but it would look great, and feel great, and serve a useful purpose for people who go through notebooks fast. It would be cool if they did it with multiple ribbons, as the City notebooks have. Other new products I’d like to see:

–a few new colors for the hardcover notebooks, perhaps more muted than the bright Volant colors.

–Cahier-format planners and address books, to be used with the next idea below:

–some sort of cover into which 3-4 cahiers can be inserted, perhaps similar to the Kolo Essex travel book. This would allow people to mix and match a few sections so they could keep an address book and planner while swapping out a notes section as it fills up, or have lined and blank pages in one notebook, for instance.

–pre-printed numbers on the pages.  Many people seem to number their pages, so I would think there’d be a market for this– maybe not a huge market, but probably no smaller than the number of people who want a pre-formatted journal for wine or books!

It will be interesting to see what Moleskine does in the future– they obviously want to grow their brand and feel that just selling more of their classic formats isn’t going to get them to their goals. But that means they have more and more products in their catalog selling fewer and fewer units each. What new notebook products would you like to see, from Moleskine or any other brand?

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8 Responses to “Moleskine Monday: More Thoughts on New Products”

  1. I didn’t get excited when I first read about Moleskine’s new products, but I would’ve been if they got your ideas! Really great stuff. I like your version of the color-a-month planner better than the original. This is my favorite though:

    –Cahier-format planners and address books, to be used with the next idea below:

    –some sort of cover into which 3-4 cahiers can be inserted, perhaps similar to the Kolo Essex travel book. This would allow people to mix and match a few sections so they could keep an address book and planner while swapping out a notes section as it fills up, or have lined and blank pages in one notebook, for instance.

    I’d definitely add that to my growing stationary collection!

    BTW big fan of your blog, please keep posting :)

  2. I agree completely with your comments about the color-a-month calendars. I picked up a set of them, and was somewhat disappointed by the amount of repetition in the front matter. I love the idea of a small daily calendar to carry with me, but I honestly don’t need the majority of the front matter they provided. Certainly, some of it (like the ability to put some notes on other months to carry over) makes sense, but honestly, a lot of their front matter is stuff that I don’t see myself ever needing. I ended up folding down a corner for every page of the front matter so that I can get easily to the actual calendar… but that seems kind-of silly. I’d rather get just the calendar part.

    Also, the color-a-month calendars don’t seem like they’ll take ink very well at all, which was disappointing to me.

  3. I like the idea of having a cover in which you could insert different notebooks, with different planner and notebook styles designed to fit it. I also would love an extra thick Moleskine, about the size of the large daily planner but just with lined pages (and numbers would be nice).

  4. Steve, have a look at C.over planners on the Journal Shop. This cover with slip in notebooks and diaries is explored there by an italian design. The notebooks that go in are slightly narrower than moleskines which is a sham and paper not quite as good .

    Nifty I like your ideas i must say about colour a month. They’re still too expensive of course :-)

  5. For one booklet-a-month, nothing beats the ancient and humble DayTimer or Franklin’s wired Compass series.

    For ring binders, there are international standards for 3,5,6, and 7 hole punches. To invent another would be foolish.

    Hundreds of brand stability studies have been done by thousands of MBAs and just as many post-mortem examinations have been performed on failed companies or products. One does not need an MBA to sense when a brand is over-extended or getting too thin to be credible

    david boise ID

  6. I’ve got a cheapo planner from Staples with a great binding— I guess you’d call it “wire-o” (a tight spiral and the rings are in pairs)? The cool thing is that the covers go right through the spiral and almost hide it, so it doesn’t stick out like most spirals do but you can still fold it all the way around and back. Would love a softcover Moleskine with that binding!

    I bought the color-a-month Moleskines from Amazon for $16.95 (on Nifty’s tip), so I knew I wouldn’t feel too bad if I ended up hating them. My plan is to use them as daily scribble/list/catch-all notebooks, with a separate planner for real appointments. Agreed about the front pages though, it’s ridiculous. I’m thinking of either just writing over them in black sharpie or pasting things on them like quotes, photos, clippings etc. so that each book takes on a mini scrapbook-of-the-month feel.

  7. […] I had designed this product, I would have done a few things differently, as noted in this post: I would put the front-matter of the monthly booklets into a separate booklet of its own, rather […]

  8. […] combination is sort of what I’d envisioned as an improvement to the Color-a-Month Volant planner. But the problem is that the 3 pieces […]

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