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The Moleskine (and why we’re still looking)

April 29th, 2007 · 26 Comments · black book


Hello there.

OK, let’s get it out of the way: The Moleskine. The current reigning king of the little black book. What every notebook we review on this blog will be compared to. What could we possibly have against it?

The Moleskine’s beauty is in its utter simplicity:

The Moleskine

The cover: hard, durable, oily finish, black, and not a single product name to ruin it on the front (imprint of “Moleskine” on the back is negligible).

The pages: Creamy white paper with thin grey lines going from top to bottom.

The notebook: sturdy, yet opens flat to write on tables. Cloth bookmark. Pocket folder in the back. Elastic band to keep it shut.

I reiterate: perfection in its simplicity.

So why doesn’t the search for the perfect little black notebook end with the Moleskine? Here are two good reasons:

This notebook was only used to about the halfway mark before the elastic band warped and the spine broke. Now the notebook is pretty much useless, and another $10 was shelled out to Barnes and Noble for a replacement. This is not the first time this has happened, and I’ve heard similar complaints from Moleskine users on the internet. There have been musings that quality has gone downhill significantly since Moleskine was purchased by a French company and production was relocated from Italy to China – thinner pages, cheaper binding, elastics that break quickly, and so forth.

I can’t verify any of these claims because I’ve never owned a Moleskine prior to these alleged changes. But I can confirm the defects that sometimes occur.

A second issue is that Moleskine offers very little in terms of variety. For example, the size is OK, but really prohibits carrying it around in your pants pocket. Less than an inch smaller on either side could very easily fix this problem. Also, the hard cover makes it impossible to sit down with this thing shoved in your back pocket. Shouldn’t the essence of a little black notebook be in its portability? When I take my Moleskine anywhere, I know it’s going to require either a bag or jacket pocket to throw it in.

The point is not that the Moleskine company should change their design; certainly not, as they have a very solid product as it is. The point is that the Moleskine is undeservedly considered the end-all/be-all of little black notebooks because there is no competition. It’s like other notebook designers have thrown up their hands and said “Too late! There’s nothing more we can do!”

We here at Black Cover believe that there have to be deserving alternatives somwhere in the world. On this blog, we will try to review some Moleskine competitors for those who are looking for a slight change from the Barnes and Noble crowd. If you have any suggestions, PLEASE email them to us at blackcoverblog@gmail.com.

And for those Moleskine fetishists who are insulted we’d ever question the God of little black books, don’t get us wrong: it’s currently the strongest contender on the market.

We’re just not convinced it’s the best.

Moleskine website: Moleskine.com
Moleskine Best Price: Amazon

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