Tag Archives: reporter

Moleskine Monday: My Collection

I haven’t done many Moleskine Monday posts lately… and it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my stash of spare Moleskines. For those who haven’t read other posts where I’ve talked about how I feel about the Moleskine brand, here’s an abbreviated version:

Late 1990s/early 2000’s— not too long after Modo e Modo introduces them, I start seeing Moleskines in stores, and receive a pocket Sketchbook as a gift. It re-awakens my slightly dormant notebook fetish and I start using them for occasional notes and drawings. But I’m not totally obsessed because I’m still really into Palm Pilots. During this period I think I once bought 2 sketchbooks while on a 3-week business trip, and it made me feel like a crazy hoarder.

Mid-late 2000’s— the softcover Moleskines are introduced and for some reason, I fall head over heels in love with the pocket size squared softcover. It’s the first notebook I’ve truly filled from cover to cover. I start this blog and allow myself to wallow in full-on notebook adoration. (Palm Pilots are over, the iPhone isn’t as exciting, and I turn back to notebooks to satisfy my life-long need to fondle something small and rectangular.) My love affair with the softcover fades, but I am using and buying lots of hardcover Moleskines and other similar notebooks such as Piccadilly, HandBook Artist Journal, and the many others I’ve written about here. The Moleskine brand has exploded. They’re everywhere. They’ve become a bit of a cliché, perhaps, but I still love them. I settle into a habit of simultaneously using a pocket squared or plain notebook for daily list-making and journaling, and a pocket sketchbook for drawing and watercolors. (My other routine notebook is a small Moleskine cahier or Field Notes that I use for my French class.) At some point during this period, they stop putting the Modo e Modo name on them, and start using only “Moleskine” in all their branding. They also change their US distributor from Kikkerland, who used to be mentioned on the packaging, to Chronicle, who is not. At this time, I maybe stockpile half a dozen Moleskines, a few Piccadillies, and a couple of HandBook Artist Journals.

Early 2010’s— Moleskine’s rapid growth seems to have led to declines in quality and changes in how they’re made. They are introducing new products at a dizzying pace and focusing more on bags and wallets than notebooks. There’s too much cover overhang, they’re less refined, the paper is thinner– they’re just not as nice. But there still isn’t any other brand that quite meets all my preferences for daily notebooks. When I buy Moleskines in a store, it’s only after inspecting them very carefully to see if they are good ones. Sometimes I find older stock from batches that were better made. I would guess that at this point, I might have hit about 20 unused Moleskines stashed for future use.

Mid- 2010’s— I can’t find good Moleskines in stores anymore.  I have to send in quality complaints about a couple of notebooks ordered online– the company sends replacements, but they aren’t much better. I’ve had it. In February 2014, I post Moleskine Monday: I May Never Buy a New Moleskine Again. But I also turn to the internet and start searching for older stock that still has the Modo e Modo name on it, and once in a while, I hit the jackpot, especially on eBay. I quickly realize that I can only buy Moleskines if I see a photo of the actual notebook, not a standard product shot which may be out of date. Whenever I see the older-looking belly-bands (someday I’ll do a post on how their design has evolved over the years), I snap them up if I can get them for a less-than-outrageous price. I start building up my stash of spares, which by August 2014 includes 37 assorted Moleskines that I would potentially use as everyday notebooks/sketchbooks. After a while, it’s grown quite large and I start trying to track my inventory in a spreadsheet, but I don’t do a great job keeping it up to date. Last time I updated the spreadsheet, the total count was 132. I decide to cut back a bit on my eBay browsing, as I’m running out of room to store all my notebooks!

Now— below are some photos of my stash, which is stored in shoe boxes, some under-bed plastic boxes, and in piles on shelves. Whenever I look at some of the really nice old ones with their perfect corners, I get all pissed off all over again, knowing that somebody once figured out how to make the perfect notebook and then they turned it into crap!


I also had a whole drawer-full in my office, until I started working from home. I’m counting just my actual Moleskine branded notebooks for the purposes of today’s post, though I also have a bunch of similar non-Moleskine notebooks earmarked for potential daily usage someday (as opposed to things that are fun to have in my collection, but not planned to be used). Here’s the count:

56 pocket sketchbooks. (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

55 pocket squared (I go through about 3-4 a year.)

12 pocket plain

30 pocket ruled (I normally don’t like ruled notebooks but on a couple of occasions I bought large lots of mixed paper styles. Since they are old ones with good paper and good overall quality, I’m willing to use one occasionally just to stretch out the lifespan of my inventory.)

Other pocket size: 1 storyboard, 1 music, 1 info book, 1 plain softcover, 1 address, 2 Japanese album, 2 ruled reporter, 1 squared reporter

Large size: 1 Voyageur, 1 large sketchbook, 1 large squared

I have not counted any “cahier” or Volant thin notebooks, as I have a few of those mixed in with various Field Notes and other similar stapled or stitched-spine notebooks. But the quantity is very small, just a few I’ve been given.

A few of the sketchbook, squared and plain ones are more recent models that I will use as a last resort. The info book is all crooked and defective, and I’m not quite sure why I’m even keeping it. But the count ends up at over 166 Moleskines, over 150 of which I am likely to potentially use on a day to day basis. (I haven’t counted the sketchbook and squared notebooks I am using now, or any of the dozens I’ve already filled.)

So… I know I’m a little crazy. My partner, who has to live with notebooks constantly arriving in the mail and taking up way too much of our limited space, definitely thinks I’m a little crazy (but also knows there are far worse vices). But the question remains, is it enough? 56 sketchbooks divided by 3 a year is a little less than 19 years, and I’ll only be about 67 years old at that point. The squared ones, if extended with the plain and ruled notebooks, will last up to 32 years, when I’ll be 81. I can probably ease off buying any more of those (unless I spot any really good cheap ones!) but I think I’m allowed to buy some more sketchbooks. Yay!


Review and Giveaway: Paperblanks Mini Reporter Notebooks

The folks at Paperblanks were kind enough to send me some samples after seeing my review of their “Old Leather” notebook. I am so glad they did, as I really love the notebooks they sent. Though there are things about them that are not 100% what I tend to look for in notebooks for my daily personal use, these are gorgeous, high-quality notebooks that I would totally buy if I found them in a store. Let’s take a look at why.

Each of the notebooks has a different cover style, and a different interior page style. (Other combinations may be available.)

The Black Moroccan is based on gold-tooled Renaissance-style leather bindings, and has blank pages inside.

The Safavid is lined inside and is based on Persian Safavid Islamic design, reproducing an image from the Düsseldorf Museum Kunst Palast.

The Grolier is based on an antique book bound by Jean Grolier (1479-1565), from the collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. It has squared paper inside, which I was very happy to see, as I didn’t know Paperblanks ever offered graph paper options.

These 3 styles are shown from left to right in the first photo below.


I’m always impressed by the richness and elegance of the Paperblanks cover designs, and these are no exception. They feel very faithful to the antique designs they emulate, and the delicate stamping and spots of metallic inks indicate real care taken in the printing process. I’m amazed that they can offer these for $11.95 with this level of quality. (They are made in China.) With most notebooks, I don’t like it when there is a groove between the spine and where the boards start– I like a smooth, flat transition where the spine wraps around cleanly and the edge of the boards is pretty much lined up with the spine of the book block– but in these notebooks, it seems so in character with the designs, it doesn’t bother me, and it does allow the cover to easily fold back on itself completely without breaking, which is not possible with some other reporter notebooks. A softcover Moleskine reporter will manage it, as will a hardcover Brunnen I reviewed, but I’m not sure a hardcover Moleskine will survive long with that treatment! (A pocket Moleskine watercolor sketchbook is shown above, as the closest comparison I had handy.)


Aside from the decorative elements, the notebook construction is solid. Neat corners, edges that don’t stick out too much, supple spines that open flat. I would prefer the page edges to be cut straight rather than follow the roundness of the spine, but it doesn’t bother me that much. The last few pages are perforated. The lines in the ruled notebook don’t go all the way to the page edge, which might bother some people. The graph paper is perfect– the thin grey lines are nicely sharp and thin and light.


Inside there is some info about the brand and the design, as well as a back pocket, and an elastic closure that tucks neatly behind it so  it doesn’t show on the back cover when you’re not using it.


The paper is such a pleasure to write on, especially with my favorite gel ink fine point pens. It’s smooth and creamy and the pen just glides over it. Fountain pens work nicely, though when I looked closely a little while later, I noticed some very slight feathering with the Pilot Varsity. I don’t usually test drying times, but the Lamy Safari stayed wet a lot longer than the Pilot did. Alas, the paper is a bit on the lightweight side and show-through and bleed-through are a bit worse than average, though if you use mainly gel ink fine point pens like the Uniballs I use at the top of the page, I think most people would find the level of show-through tolerable.


So I’ll say it again, I love these notebooks and if I hadn’t gotten them for free, I’d buy one! Paperblanks are available in quite a few retailers, including online at Amazon. But you can also try to win one in the giveaway! The Safavid and the Black Moroccan will each go to one of the two lucky winners I’ll select from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “@Paperblanks,” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @paperblanks.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Paperblanks page, and post something containing the words “Paperblanks” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Paperblanks” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday April 18, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Goodsnake

A nice collection of Moleskines, posted on Flickr:

I see sketchbooks, ruled and squared, large and small, top-opening and side-opening, which got me thinking: do most Moleskine users tend to buy mostly one kind of Moleskine over and over again, or do they have a wide variety like this? My Moleskine collection is much more focused, mostly small sketchbooks and squared notebooks, plus a few small unlined notebooks. I have a few other types that have either been given to me as gifts or bought to review on this blog. What’s in your collection?

Goodsnake’s original photo on Flickr: Moleskines | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Notebook Stolen by Gaddafi’s Son?

A reader tipped me off to this story, about a reporter whose notebook went missing in Libya:  

I like notebooks. I like writing things down – bits of detail, colour, what people say, their names, memory joggers, phone numbers. You name it.

I am writing this in a notebook because we are out filming.

And I do not mean a small portable computer. My notebooks have pages, hard black covers, a useful pocket inside the back and an elastic strap to stop them pinging open.

Khamis Gaddafi, the colonel’s most feared son, must have liked them too. Because it seems he has been writing war plans in the back of one of mine….

Read more at BBC News – Was Jeremy Bowen’s notebook stolen by Gaddafi’s son?.

Calvin Trillin’s Notebook

I was catching up on my New Yorker magazines over the weekend and enjoyed this article by Calvin Trillin: Remembering the Freedom Riders.

I also liked the accompanying photo of the author as a young reporter… with a notebook, of course!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Range

I’ve noticed a couple of great posts about notebooks by Range over at Memoirs on a Rainy Day. I love it when people can just talk about their notebooks and why they like them and how they use them, as in this post: Notebook Obsession and Rhodia Love. He doesn’t have a photo of his whole collection, but he seems to be using 10 notebooks concurrently, as described in a post called Never Enough Notebooks, which I’ve excerpted below. Check out the links for more details:

1 – Moleskine Reporter Plain Paper Pocket

This is a small notebook that I always carry around. I chose reporter over traditional style, since I find that reporter notebooks let you use the pages better, especially in this smaller format.

2 – A6 Miquelrius Kukuxumusu

From the website, it looks like the design that I bought is out of print. Nevertheless, this 140-page little notebook is ideal for writing to-do lists and just getting organized. I don’t really use a dedicated weekly or daily planner, I just use this instead.

№3 – Moleskine Watercolor L

This is a neat little notebook that I use for inking and drawing stuff. They aren’t really sketches, but this high-quality paper works well.

№4 – A4 Moleskine Sketchbook

I bought this two weeks ago, but haven’t had time to start using this. It will be a journaling book. I want to use this often and add bits of color.
Class notebooks
These are the notebooks I use for my classes. I settled for the Rhodia notebooks, as they have 96 pages and the paper is quite nice¹, making them ideal for doing problems. I would have preferred spiral notebooks with more pages, but I couldn’t find any that I liked.

№5 – Moleskine Plain Paper XL Real Analysis class notes
№6 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Real Analysis exercise book

№7 – Moleskine Plain Paper XL Modern Algebra class notes

№8 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Modern Algebra exercise book
№9 – A4 Moleskine Plain Paper Complex Analysis class notes
№10 – Rhodia stapled A4 notebook Complex Analysis exercise book

That is a lot of notebooks to have going all at once! I hope he’ll post some photos someday.

Paper + Electronic: The Livescribe Pulse Pen & Journal

I’d been noticing ads for Livescribe products but I hadn’t really paid attention until seeing this article by James Fallows: My new favorite gadget: Livescribe Pulse pen.


It actually sounds pretty cool– the pen is an audio recorder, which you use with special paper. As you write, the pen keeps track of where you are on the page at any given point in the audio recording, so it’s great for reporters who would want to go back and check their notes against the audio of an interview. To do so, you just point the pen at the relevant note on the page, which makes it play back the audio recorded at the moment you wrote that note. You can also buy an add-on program that will convert what you write into digital text– so far, I don’t think there’s anything that converts the recorded audio into text, which would really put this over the top in the coolness factor!

The paper is available in various formats, from spiral notebooks to a very Moleskine-like journal:

livescribe journal

For those who struggle to reconcile their love of notebooks with their need for information in a digital form, could Livescribe be the answer? It sure seems like a step in the right direction. Please leave a comment if you’ve tried one– I’d love to know how the product measures up in terms of the pen and paper writing experience.

Amazon sells the Livescribe pens and notebooks.