Why Ming Stopped Using a Moleskine

I bookmarked these posts ages ago: Why I stopped using a moleskine (part 1) and (part 2).
I’m always fascinated by the different ways the Moleskine brand has imprinted itself on people, and the passion it can inspire. And as with all great passions, when the love affair ends, equally strong feelings are experienced.

Ming recalls his first Moleskine, given to him by his mother and used while traveling:

I was sold. And by the end of my 3 week trip to England my new found friend and I would have shared so much.

You know how you get when you just come back from a place, every time some one talks to you, becomes an invitation to repeat some exagerated story about how your trip went! Well you are not alone, for months I went on and on about my trip with my dear hard covered travel buddy.

In those months and a few months beyond that I must have forced hundreds of people to buy moleskines of their own, I believed in my Italian friend.

Ming’s Moleskine “had become part of my identity, and psyche. It was more than a notebook, it was a testament to my creativity, a fashion statement, a mark of quality.

The reason so many people stop sketching or taking notes would often be the inability to find a suitable replacement. Notebooks go out of fashion, or out of stock. but moleskines could be found in their shiny shrink wrap anywhere in the world.

Now I knew that no matter what the little leaflet in the back says, that the moleskine’s artificial legacy was manufactured. Yet I was happy to play a long.

Ming’s disillusionment comes when the cover of a softcover Moleskine tears away from the spine, and he decides he can’t rely on their quality. He also sees them as having become too ubiquitous, and losing their air of exclusivity– they no longer have that elusive appeal that’s not obvious to the uninitiated. “A Moleskine diary for everyone. For everyone?” he asks. “Since when was exclusivity for everyone?”

I guess that’s the fine line many exclusive brands have to be wary of– how do you give your fans the feeling of being in an exclusive club while trying to open that club to as many people as possible? If you’re not careful, the magic can suddenly disappear, as it did for Ming. As of the writing of those posts, he’d switched to Muji notebooks and an iPhone.

10 thoughts on “Why Ming Stopped Using a Moleskine”

  1. Exclusivity is a goal only in a marketing program that successfully funds a company with huge margins, the old Apple, for instance, or Prada. Moleskine’s retail price does not promise quality, it reflects only what the market will pay. Rhodia’s webbie is even more expensive but I gladly pay because I get much higher quality and, with the bright orange cover, I make a new statement: I am a no-molie.

    I buy lots of notebooks from Rhodia, Leuchtturm, ecosystem, Piccadilly, and, when I want RED, I buy Moleskine.

    david boise ID

  2. I understand the exclusivity to an extent but I think his problem was switching from hard cover to soft cover, and they are two different beasts in my eyes.

    I love the hard cover Moleskine because it fulfills all my needs. And sure I’ve thought about switching but, it is true the replacement journal has a lot to live up to.

  3. I shall always remember that it was Moleskine that introduced me to the wonderful world of branded notebooks. Fortunately I since discovered some even better ‘versions’.
    Like David B [above] I too have switched to the Rhodia Webbie … the quality that Moly could’ve, should’ve been. Now, they don’t need to evolve so can gently fade away into the sunset like the legends who allegedly inspired them. For me the future is now and the future is Rhodia!

  4. I considered switching from Moleskine when I tried out a soft cover, but then I bought some more hard cover notebooks and I still use it as my main notebook, along with two field notes notebooks. I wouldn’t call myself a moleskine notebook fanatic, but I do enjoy using them.

    I enjoy leuchtturm, field notes, piccadilly, and a vast array of other notebooks. I don’t see the argument of exclusivity as valid for me. I think that owning something that YOU value is important, no matter how many other people own the same thing. But that’s just me. I have yet to buy a Rhodia webbie because of the price; are they really worth it?

  5. > I have yet to buy a Rhodia webbie because of the price; are they really worth it? <

    Good topic for another thread of comments or a discussion over on rhodiadrive; highly personal decision.

    Moleskine's range is now over 250 products and it seems it will be expanding again in 2012. Molie is no longer an inexplicably exclusive brand, it's a marketing success that has degraded to being merely ubiquitous. For the company's owners and its international employees, it's a fantastic position to hold. For me, it's great, too, because, with all the competition moving into what was an exclusive marketplace, I have many more–and much more interesting–options. I still like molie's red hardcovers and I simply HAD to have the yellow PacMan notebooks.

    david boise ID

  6. I welcome the fact that Moleskines are available world-wide. I can run out of them anywhere just about on the planet and be confident that I can buy a new one easily. I DON’T want them to be exclusive. And they are simple and functional. They should be a bit cheaper, but that is my only real gripe. I much prefer them to the Rhodias, which have those rubbery covers. Also: I feel a debt to Moleskine, since it is thanks to them that useful, non-decorative, journals have returned to the market as everyday items. If Moleskine should ever collapse, we will regret it. Right now, we are spoiled.

  7. I think there would be plenty of quality books to take Moleskine’s place.

    What there really needs to be is more localized shops that carry several of these competing brands.

  8. If Moleskine collapses, I think that other brands, which latch on to the Moleskine success and model, will perish as well. And prices will rise. The whole fashion for using journals that is now so predominant could die.

  9. All the reasons that would cause Moleskine to collapse in the first place are tied to quality of product/materials used, not the popularity of hardbound notebooks. That market is already established and isn’t going away, not even with the proliferation of electronic alternatives.

    People are going to continue to love writing with pen and paper, period. The Baby Boomer generation is only now starting to retire, and they are still the main demographic (here in the States). They’re going to be around for a long time. The main question for Moleskine is, and will continue to be, how they will maintain a quality product now that they have outsourced production to China.

  10. re “A Moleskine diary for everyone. For everyone?” he asks. “Since when was exclusivity for everyone?”

    It’s an interesting discussion: it’s similar to what happens with music. I can remember at school some years ago, the aficianados of Fleetwod Mac after their first album was released …. we’re talking ’67, maybe -these fans thought they’d ‘sold out’ when they released Albatross.

    With Moleksines, I think the problem is that the emphasis will change with their development. i.e they will start to sell more diaries , and less straight notebook: the choice of styles may change: possibly less used ones like the japanese fold may die out altogether- it is popular with many people ( certainly in this house…) but in a world market it may become a niche product . . and eventually disappear.

    But when it gets to the point when you can buy Moleskine branded diaries after shave and underwear, on every High Street, there’ll still be us old timers who can remember using the ‘ole internet’ to get books sent to us in rural parts . . . . .

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