Moleskine Monday: “What Can Moleskine Teach Publishers?”

An interesting and amusing article about a talk by Marco Beghin, President of Moleskine US, full of plenty of slogan-y stuff about “mobility,” “self-identity,” and “collective memory.” I’m not sure it answers its own question about what book publishers might be able to learn from Moleskine:

Publishers who hope for their catalogs to become as iconic across generations might want to stamp the words “Self-identity and mobility” onto their five-year plans, two key ideas behind Beghin’s concept of where Moleskine is headed. “The design of Moleskine… the rectangular shape of the notebook… is in our collective memory,” which to his mind explains the fierce devotion to the brand. This stance sounds as confident as the collective imprint from Carl Jung himself, but more publishers could learn to stand as tall behind the ideology of their own products.

“What that you carry says who you are?” he asked.

So… Moleskine is successful because their notebooks are portable rectangles, and publishers should make books portable rectangles too?  I suppose you could say that books are heading in the direction of Moleskine notebooks in that books used to have covers that told the world what you were reading, which said something about you, but now e-readers have the same anonymous covers as notebooks, which tells the world a lot less.

I don’t see why Moleskine epitomizes “mobility” more than any other notebook ever did:

Of course it’s not just our bodies and our things that we’re mobilizing—it’s information itself. “What we’re navigating is the space, but it’s also information. Movement is physical, but also digital. It’s information…. We don’t stand for analog or digital. We’re in a mobile continuum that looks more like analog, digital, analog, digital. We can teach how to be mobile in this continuum.”

And then there’s this:

The notebooks themselves, the analog if you will, have gone through one seismic shift to accommodate all of this motion and carrying: not too long ago they went from having a hard cover to having a soft cover. “With the soft covers you can scan pages now. You can open and close it a million times because it’s bound like a book. We had to consider quality and mobility.”

They make it sound like the hardcover notebooks no longer exist after that “seismic shift,” and you’d think they didn’t open flat for scanning all along. The hardcovers, in my experience, would be a lot more likely to hold up to a million openings and closings than the softcovers.

Anyway, it’s quite amazing how much mumbo-jumbo tech-guru-speak people can spin out from a simple notebook!

Read more at The Things We Carry: What Can Moleskine Teach Publishers? | Publishing Perspectives.


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5 Responses to “Moleskine Monday: “What Can Moleskine Teach Publishers?””

  1. Boy, that was a heck of a lot of rhetorical terminology n jargon in one article… And a complete load of twaddle to boot!!

  2. their marketing and diversity has exploded…but their QUALITY HAS PLUMMETED!
    i still like them, but i refuse to use them for something i really care about. these chinese made ones fall apart too easily. they have nothing attaching the spine to the boards except for the thin endpaper
    the old Italian made ones had a piece of mull (fabric)
    other mock molekines are now better made

  3. I only skimmed through quickly, but I didn’t see them mention how well they are suited to being written in! You’d think that would be something they mentioned. I don’t actually use Moleskin because I don’t like how they feel under my pen, but I assume a lot of people do like how they feel – those notebooks are extremely popular!

  4. I think this is what turns people off to Moleskines….the techno mumbo jumbo combined with the fake marketing about Hemingway and his cohorts are just as lacking in substance as the notebooks seem to. I wonder if he went back and read this and realized how silly he sounded.

  5. I’ve used Moleskines but never fell in love with them. The paper quality didn’t impress me at all (too thin, too slick), and the few features they had that made them different when I first discovered them (the pocket, elastic band, etc.) have now been reproduced — and, as Erasergirl says, with better quality — in so many other journals that it’s hard to see any reason to buy Moleskines anymore. (Except maybe for some of the media tie-in ones, if you’re a fan of that particular character/film.)

    My favorite manufacturer is still Paperblanks. I love their attention to detail — including the paper quality — and they blog more about art than corporatespeak.

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