I've carried a notebook since 1995, and as long as I've had one in my pocket, I've also been on a search for the ultimate notebook. Many types and styles have been in my pocket and bag over the years, but I could never find a style that was both consistently available and that I really truly liked.
Then, in 2008, I found the Moleskine, and my search was over. I'm going to skip all the romance and history behind the brand, because that doesn't matter to me. If you want to learn about how Moleskines were used by van Gogh, Hemingway, Chatwin, Picasso, your mom, etc., check out Moleskine's company information. Our discussion here will be around utility, not nostalgia.
Available in different sizes and formats, my Moleskine of choice is the Moleskine Pocket Plain Notebook, 3.5" x 5.5", with 192 pages. Here is Moleskine's description:
The Moleskine Notebooks have a hard cover with rounded corners, an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket made of cardboard and cloth. Pocket size: 9 x 14 cm (3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches). Large size: 13 x 21 cm (5 x 8-1/4"). PLAIN NOTEBOOK: The basic notebook with plain pages. Available in black and red hard cover. Pocket: 192 pages. Large: 240 pages.
Why I Love Moleskine Notebooks
- Durable, creamy-colored archival quality paper. My first pocket notebooks, back in my ol' college days, were 99-cent cheapies from Wal-Mart. The paper was comparable to your typical school notebooks. About halfway through each, the cover would require taping, lest the thing fall apart in mid-sentence. And, over the years, the text is not as clear as it was (though some of that is due to using pencil and ballpoint pen for many a year too). With Moleskines, the text is highly legible on acid-free paper, though of course I'll know more in about 10 years. And, as a side point, I love the color of the paper. It's not blinding white, but instead a soft creamy, parchment-like color. It's easy on the eyes, and gives good contrast with the black ink of my Hi-Tec-C pens.
- Natural fit in hand. Moleskines are lightweight, but they have just a hint of heft. You feel like you have something substantial in your hand, even though the notebook itself weighs only 4.5 oz.
- Easy to write in. The page size is a natural fit for my thread-like scrawl, and I can fit lots of info on a page.
- Good price. Note that I didn't say "cheap price." I pay about $10-12 per Moleskine (either online through Moleskines.com or locally at J. Michaels Books). They're worth every penny, as I've had my fill of cheap notebooks that fall apart and have crap paper quality. I gladly pay extra for quality and durability. Given, too, that a Moleskine lasts me 1-3 months on average, I consider it a reasonable price.
- The little touches add up. The built-in bookmark ribbon helps me immediately get to a fresh page. The elastic band keeps everything closed up tight. My favorite, though? The little pocket in the back over. It's perfect for business cards, receipts, fortunes from Chinese restaurant fortune cookies, and the other myriad flotsam and jetsam that needs to be temporarily contained for something or other.
When I use my Moleskine, I feel like I'm using a real notebook. It has a little heft, but not too much. The paper is thirsty for ink and takes a fine line. Stacked on my shelf, I know the notebooks will maintain their quality and retain their type for years. There's a lot to be said for that, even if you do type up your notebooks. These are all reasons why the Moleskine has become my notebook of choice, and is likely to remain so throughout my scribbling life and career.
More: All My Writing Tools