moleskine madness

I had seen them at Fully Booked (PowerPlant mall branch) early or middle of 2008 and thought they were lovely but way, way too expensive for a notebook. But I couldn’t get them out of my head; over the months I’d go back to the store, look at the display, and wonder whether I should finally get one or not.

I’m talking about Moleskines, the hip hot notebook that almost every creative person in the know is carrying around. Moleskines are touted as the notebook used by literary and art stars – Hemingway, Chatwin, Picasso.

“Moleskins” – notebooks with a cover of oilcloth-covered cardboard – have been around for over a hundred years and were made in France by a few select stationers until demand for the old-fashioned notebooks died. The last moleskin notebook maker, based in Tours, France, stopped making them in 1986.

In 1998, the Italian company Modo e Modo revived the old tradition and sold them under the trademark “Moleskine”. And that is how they are known to aficionados – writers, artists, other creatives, the intelligentsia, academics, scientists, and wannabes. Writer Neil Gaiman always carries one.

I must profess my profound admiration for the Modo e Modo marketing machine – from 30,000 in sales early on to more than 3 million now, their hype is certainly effective. Consumers feel that with a Moleskine they can channel the creativity of the artists and writers of the past who used similar notebooks. Farfetched idea, but it’s often observed in anthropology – “sympathetic magic”.

Googling the ‘Net, you’ll see a lot of references to Moleskines. They are used as planners by IT people using “GTD” (Getting Things Done) and other time-management methods after applying “moleskine hacks” (modifications). They are also popular as art albums, scrapbooks, for writing stories in, and as

Moleskines are also available at Powerbooks, but at present stocks are depleted everywhere. Wait till the first week of December to satisfy your Moleskine cravings.

They come in pocket and large sizes, with plain, ruled, squared, and watercolor paper (for the sketchbooks). There are also daily and weekly planners, as well as Japanese albums and memo pockets. The default color is black, but they issued a limited edition red planner for 2008, and not too long ago offered Shantung silk-covered variations in blue, red, green, and plum as part of their Van Gogh Museum collection. The colors do evoke the hues in the painter’s works.

They are expensive, but if you are an aesthete, or one who loves paper and pen, then you must have one. Or more.

I’d like to get two pocket notebooks – one plain and one ruled – and fill them in with words and drawings. Most likely my sketches will be of quilt blocks and quilt designs. The words, strung together, will form essays and other random ramblings.

I can’t wait to curl up with a cup of coffee, some paper, a fountain pen, and ink – with these tools I can create my own new world.

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