[Update! Several readers have written in to say the durability of these notebooks is pretty shoddy – see below]
Let’s get one thing straight: we don’t hate the Moleskine. Yes, this website is dedicated to finding alternatives to what is widely considered the end-all, be-all of little black notebooks. But that has less to do with actual problems with Moleskine products, and more to do with the accepted belief that there is just one way to do a little black notebook, and Moleskine owns the patent. And to prove our lack of animosity, here’s our quite positive review of their very impressive softcover Moleskine.
Sometime last year, a page appeared on Amazon advertising a then-forthcoming Moleskine product: a softcover lined notebook. We received numerous emails about this, but other than a mention on the Moleskine website, no other information was available.
Many were excited about Moleskine’s first venture into the flexible world, but we here at BC were skeptical – because this, in fact, wasn’t Moleskine’s first softcover. In 2006, Moleskine put out a 2007 softcover weekly planner that was very disappointing. Badly planned, the rear pocket folder was so thick that it fully prevented the softcover from bending at all. Take a look:
That’s seriously as far as it would bend without basically folding it in half. Luckily, Moleskine clearly worked hard to correct the problem, as this is the current flexibility with the new softcover notebook:
It seems like we’ve reviewed far more softcover black notebooks than hardcover, which is too bad because I prefer something a little more durable. That said, Moleskine has come up with a good firmness to their softcover. While I like the popular Miquelrius, I’ve found it too be too flexibile – there’s no weight to it at all, and it’s good to have some amount of resistance. I was recently impressed by the Alwych notebook, which is more rigid than the Moleskine softcover – but in that case, the Alwych’s flexibility is appropriate to its smaller size.
Besides being flexible, the cover is made of the standard Moleskine oil skin cloth (without being backed by a thick piece of cardboard). I was a little surprised to find some nicks and a scratch in the cover when I took it out of its shipping box – time will tell how durable it is to wear and tear. But for the moment, I’ll chalk that up to the postal service.
Size wise, this notebook is ever so slightly smaller than the standard Moleskine, clocking in at about 5.5″ x 3.5″.
I still maintain this about a quarter of an inch too large, but with the softcover, the dimensions are a lot more manageable. I put this in my back pocket as I drove home from work today, and completely forgot it was there.
This first page has the standard Moleskine reward info – nice and simple, as it should be:
The pages are of the creamy, off-white variety, of which I’m a fan (not too harsh on the eyes). The lines go right to the top of the page, without the annoying margins that some notebooks choose to include. The line spacing is nice and tight, but I do have a complaint: they’re crooked!
I don’t know if it’s clear in this picture, but the lines do not run parallel to the top and bottom of the page! You can see it most clearly at in the top of the left page in the above picture – that difference in spacing is not due to the way the notebook is bending. In fact, it’s lying flat on the table (something this notebook does very well for a softcover). Very strange…perhaps one of the drawbacks of mass-manufacturing your products in China?
Finally, the notebook is rounded out with the back cover folder and ribbon bookmark.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Moleskine softcover. It’s firm enough to be durable, yet flexible enough to carry in pretty much any pocket. It comes with all the perks of the standard hard cover Moleskine, and besides the crooked lines, is a very strong little black notebook. To date, I haven’t seen these sold in stores, but you can order them easily enough online.
See? We don’t the Moleskine after all! Special thanks to Stacy for letting us know these were finally available to buy.
Update: Apparently, readers haven’t found the durability of these notebooks to be pretty bad:
I just started my first softcover pocket Moleskine two days ago. You will not do well carrying this in your back pocket. The paper block is already splitting from the binding. The only thing I have found that works in the back pocket over time is the pocket reporter notebook, always slipped into the pocket with the spine at the top. Sitting flexes the spine and breaks regular casebound books – a standard Moleskine in a few weeks, a softcover in a couple of days.
OKAY, I have been using a softcover molie for 6 weeks, i keep it in my back pocket. and let me tell you there are some big drawbacks, first is the paper block coming away from the binding, it is only attached at each end of the block and not along the whole of it, basically meaning i had to sticky tape the first and last pages to the card pieces on the inner cover. Also the skin does come away from the inner card as it is not rolled, this can be easily fixed with some superglue though. also my ribbon fell out when the paper block came loose! Although the paper in mine is straight so 1 good point. i have noticed that the paper in some cahiers is often wonky yet not always.
Not very promising. At some point in the near future, I’ll be doing an update on how the various notebooks we’ve reviewed have held up over the past year.
BUY: Amazon.com ($12)