Miquelrius is a company located in Spain (near Barcelona) that has been in the stationary business for over 150 years. I happened to find their Moleskine-esque softcover notebook ($9) in a New York City art store today, and was very impressed at its quality and design, yet disappointed to see another black book failing in some key (and easy to fix!) areas.
This year, the Moleskine company came out with a new product: the softcover planner. Unlike the rigid, oil-cloth cardboard covers on nearly all their models, we finally had the option of something we could shove in our backpocket and not have to avoid sitting down. Unfortunately, Moleskine has been very short sighted, and has yet to release their ruled notebook with this flexible cover (according to some reports, this is a good thing, as it doesn’t stand up to much of a beating).
Well, no need, Moleskine! Miquelrius has beat you to it. The highlight of this notebook is the cover, which is very similar to the flexible oil-cloth soft cover on the Moleskine planner, if not identical.
Unlike the somewhat stiff Moleskine planner, however, this thing WANTS you to bend it. Shove it in your pocket, then sit down, run a marathon, roll it up for fun – the Miquelrius will move to suit your position, and always bounces back.
It gives absolutely no resistance to bending, so you can easily keep it in your backpocket without noticing. In fact, you can even bend the cover back and write in it using only one hand to hold it, an impossible feat with the Moleskine hardcovers. Perfect, right?
Except no company seems capable of putting out a perfect little black book, and this brings me to my main complaint about the Miquelrius: it’s not little! Okay, it’s certainly not big – but at 4″ x 6″ it’s longer and wider than the standard Moleskine by half an inch, and that’s a lot.
Let me explain. One of my main problems with the current wave of black books is that they assume the 3.5 x 5.5 inch Moleskine design are the perfect dimensions. I swear that this size is about 3/4 of an inch too annoying to carry around in a standard pocket. This doesn’t seem like much, but it GREATLY cuts down on portability. Taking your Moleskine anywhere currently means tossing it in a purse or backpack or handbag or laptop case or coat pocket. Where’s the freedom in that?? In order to take my notebook anywhere, I have to rely on some specific to carry it? Totally defeats the purpose! If I were Chatwin, I’d be annoyed!
Now we find a great new design using a soft cover, which definitely allows greater flexibility in travel…And Miquelrius goes and makes it a 1/2 inch larger than the standard Moleskine and overall an inch bigger than it should be! Look, it says in the sidebar that we’re insane at this blog, and I know how nuts this all sounds. But in those meager few tenths of an inch is the entire decision to either bring or not bring a notebook in your travels. And that should be the most important goal when designing a notebook like this.
Now for the insides…
I’m not fully caught up on my notebook lingo, but the pages are not the section sewn variety of the Moleskine or Book Factory models, in which little packets of ten pages or so are sewn together to create the full notebook. Instead, the Miquelrius pages are bound one after the other, if that makes sense (like a square-spine notebook, for example). Though strong, this prevents the book from opening completely flat on a table, a huge bonus for Moleskine fetishists. Personally, I think the pages suit the soft cover design, and wouldn’t give it a second thought.
Now we look at the pages and see – oh no, page headers! Why do notebook companies think we’re still in grade school and require room to write our names at the tops of the page? I know it’s only three lines or so lost, but it feels like a huge amount of wasted space when you’re continuing from one page to the next. It’s too bad too, as the pages are otherwise of decent quality, barely-off-white in color, with lines that are spaced slightly wider than the Moleskine (I say thinner lines mean more writing on each page! … but I suppose that cuts down on notebook sales).
In terms of perks, this notebook comes with the typical Moleskine elastic band to keep it shut. The band is mounted to the back of the journal by two small rivets, which may or may not hold it better than however the Moleskine does it (wherever that band mysteriously disappears to in the back cover…).
There’s no pocket folder on the back cover, but anyone who’s used the 2007 Soft Cover Planner knows this is a good thing – the folder absolutely prevents the Planner’s back cover from bending at all, a necessary ability for a notebook whose charm is in its flexibility. Also, there’s no bookmark, which is too bad because it would be an easy addition.
Overall, the Miquelrius soft cover notebook a really solid, durable, flexible little black blook and I would recommend it as an excellent Moleskine soft cover alternative if my few negatives don’t bother you. I’m definitely going to be using it for the duration of an upcoming film production. My frustration comes from the fact that with a few EASY changes (smaller in size, no page headers, tighter line spacing, and a bookmark for good measure) this could actually top the Moleskine.
Note: Miquelrius makes a lot of other great notebooks, including a version of this one the size of a composition notebook, with 300 – count’em – 300 pages. At the low cost of about $20, it’s the perfect option for people who like to handwrite their novels in a quality notebook.