Moleskine Monday: “Legit Quality and Design, Faux History”

Here’s someone with a realistic take on the Moleskine brand:

“This is a company that took a famous novelist/travel writer’s (Bruce Chatwin) description of his favorite non-living travel companion (the brandless, black-covered, elastic-banded, ribbon-bookmarked notebook) and from it built a brand that is extraordinary in its implied history and prestige.

…the company only came into being in 1997, believe it or not, though the style of notebook they make has been around since at least the 19th Century…”

But he still appreciates Moleskine for what they’ve gotten right:

“It’s simple (you’re not going to find any decorations or images on the cover of a Moleskine), it’s super-practical (the cover is rugged, the materials high-quality, the elastic band holds it shut and makes it perfect for carrying with you everywhere, the bookmark makes whipping it out for note-taking a breeze, and the pocket in the back adds all kinds of versatility) and it reeks of good taste, modernity and class.

Let me explain that last claim.

Take a look at almost any high-style, high-class brand, and you’ll notice some things they have in common.

They are minimal. Incredibly so, in fact. They utilize white space in ways that would make any Minimalist envious, and this allows them to stand out from the unwashed masses (if you don’t have much money, you try to cram as much information and advertising onto a billboard or ad as you can…if you have money, you don’t).

They use simple colors (in many cases, black and white with maybe one extra…red is especially popular because it combined with the other two colors make for the most drastic contrast available), shapes (the Moleskine is a near-perfect Golden Rectangle) and form-factors (the sizes available are all chosen very carefully to make them the optimal size for carrying around, creating sketches, etc, without any unnecessary added bulk).

They use slightly higher-quality materials than their competitors. True, there are some excellent copycats on the market right now (the Piccadilly Essential Notebook is a particularly solid and relatively cheap imitator, although their other products are pretty damn ugly), but the Moleskine it still my notebook of choice at the moment, due to their overwhelmingly awesome design and wide variety of options.

Oh yes, the options. There are large notebooks, small notebooks, notebooks for drawing, notebooks for watercoloring, notebooks for keeping track of your schedule, notebooks for keeping in your back pocket, notebooks for designing, notebooks for composing, notebooks for keeping your contacts straight, notebooks for sorting your receipts, notebooks for creating epic Japanese landscapes or poems, notebooks for tourists, oh yes, and notebooks for taking notes.

I defy you to find a more practical, well-rounded bundle of bound paper..”

Read more at Moleskines Have Legit Quality and Design, Faux History | Flashpack.

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9 Responses to “Moleskine Monday: “Legit Quality and Design, Faux History””

  1. I’m well aware of the origins of the Moleskine brand, but their claims aside I will be a customer for life. I’ve tried Picadilly and a few other brands but my Moleskine outlasts them all every time. I’ve yet to destroy one but had nothing but trouble from the cheap alternatives.

    I keep a supply of cheaper brands on hand for my field work as I don’t want to sacrafice a Moleskine to the elements or my work environment but my personal thoughts and ideas always go in the best.

  2. I’ve been wanting to buy a Moleskine for quite some time, but there’s one thing that always holds me back. I recently read that Prop 65 of California said that within the journal’s cover it contains a potentially hazardous chemical. I know it shouldn’t bother me, seeing as Prop 65 pretty much says everything is dangerous, but any one else have thoughts on this? I heard it was because some people like to have the covers etched, and in doing this could release the chemical.

  3. William: The cover material of Moleskines contains PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is a harmful chemical if it is ingested. You heard correctly that laser etching of Moleskine journals released the PVC in the cover material and was hazardous to the workers who did the etching. But unless you are prone to chewing the covers of your journals, I don’t think Moleskines should cause any concern.

  4. I have never had a Moleskine that did not come apart before I half filled the notebook. The paper is terrible if you use a fountain pen or any wet pen. It is marketed very well, that is about it for the product and brand.

  5. Randy says his Moleskine last but then say “I keep a supply of cheaper brands on hand for my field work as I don’t want to sacrafice a Moleskine to the elements or my work environment but my personal thoughts and ideas always go in the best.” Keep this point in mind.

  6. @excalibur the only notebook that holds up in my line of work is Rite in the Rain. I work with water. You know, wet stuff. Pumps that are greasy, muddy, rusty and above all else wet.

    Keep that point in mind.

  7. PVC is the worst type of plastic available. It will outgas for all of eternity in landfills or on your desk. It’s linked to cancer, birth defects and hormone disruption.

    I should have known that Moleskine covers are made of PVC, but I wasn’t thinking. I bought my 3rd Moleskine planner 2 days ago, damn. I was torn between that one and one by Ecosystem, whose layout is almost identical to Moleskine’s but it’s 100% post-consumer recycled. But I got the MS as I had an airmiles giftcard for Indigo, who don’t sell Ecosystem products.
    In the future, I will steer clear of Moleskines and will opt for PVC-free AND recycled.

  8. To add, I decided that I’m going to cover my agenda with the nicest recycled gift wrap I can find or my own art so I don’t have to touch the PVC.

    I forgot to write that PVC also commonly contains LEAD as a stabilizer metal. You can absorb it through the skin by handling it, especially the warmer the skin (i.e. sweaty palms) or material (i.e. summer time..). Bon appetit.

  9. ….but our water flows through pvc pipes!

    maybe moleskines will offer an alternative cover?

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