the deliciousness of notebooks

photo by Bright Meadow

I just spent a half hour wandering through the Moleskin website.  This is a very clever company, which has found a way to reframe a a tried and true product and turn it into a modern brand, and is now doing quite well with all sorts of minor updates, none of which veer far from the original.  I’m not a business blogger, but if I were, I’d spend some time with this product.

My pleasure in Moleskins is purely as a consumer.  I’m a lifelong journaler and a compulsive notebook collector.  Despite iPads and laptops and phones and all the other wonders of modern technology, I still have an actual paper notebook with me at all times.  I still keep my journals in notebooks (even if that means I print out pages I’ve written on the computer and glue them in), and I travel with notebooks.  I like to keep one for each book I work on, a place to write out the tidbits I need to remember to look up, a place to write lists of things I know about a character or plot thread or backstory.

As notebooks go, it’s very hard to beat Moleskins.   I have been a big fan of Clairefontaine papers since a trip to France some years ago with my friend Sonia.  The joy in Clairefontaine is the smoothness of the paper, which is hard to describe unless you’ve felt your pen sailing over the surface, unimpeded, like a swimmer slicing through water.   I see that they are offering a notebook similar to Moleskin now, but there are some details that are not quite right.

Moleskins are a writer’s notebook. They bend right.  You can turn them inside out and they don’t fall apart.  I can glue dozens of things to dozens and dozens of pages and the elastic band will still hold it all together.  The paper is good quality, and I can buy them in blank or graphs or lines (graph paper is surprisingly satisfying), a plus when I’m using them for different purposes.  Blank pages are best for travel, since I like to sketch sometimes in a travel journal.  Lined is best for journals.  I love graphs for the freedom of adaptation, but almost never choose them.

I love the stitched pages.  The sturdiness of the covers. The pocket in the back. Even those last few pages that can be torn out easily if you so desire.  It’s as if someone knew how a person journals and designed a notebook just for her.

Do you have a preference or love for a particular journal or brand of notebook?  Do you have different notebooks for different purposes?

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11 thoughts on “the deliciousness of notebooks

  1. Mel

    I really like the gridded moleskines for jotting down story notes, worldbuilding details etc. Something about the grid rather than the lines makes it work better! Love Clairefontaine for writing on and love the Circa stuff from Levenger for making notebooks. If I lived in the US, I’m sure my notebook habit would be a lot worse than it is now!

  2. I love, love, love to use plain old composition notebooks. I have a different one for each of my stories filled with tons of ideas, notes, research and what have you. I search out different composition notebooks that have interesting covers…such as Ed Hardy designs or flowers, geometric or anything that catches my eye. I also use 0.9mm Bic (mechanical) pencils for these notebooks. The composition notebooks and pencils are relatively inexpensive and I am sorta embarrassed to say that I have at minimum 12-15 notebooks sitting on a shelf waiting to be used and you don’t even want to know how many pencils I have lying around or in pencil cups in my apartment.

  3. I must say that I, too, am addicted to notebooks! I love Moleskine and am about to head for Barnes and Noble this weekend to pickout my 2011 daily work book. From there, it’s time for a new one for my next manuscript notes..What fun!

  4. These have been a staple for Tony, then Sam, and then David. They are indeed a writer’s tool.

  5. I have so many notebooks it’s embarrassing! I like a variety of sizes, from smallish ones for jotting down story notes and large, 8 x 11 for writing the actual story (I switch back and forth from writing on the computer to writing by hand, depending on the scene.)

    However, I’ve been really stuck because I need a spiral notebook in order to be able to use all sides of the paper. Are you able to do that with the Moleskins? I’ve been using some black, hardbacked spiral notebooks I’ve found at B&N that I like pretty well, but the paper is nothing special.

    And I LOVE graph paper! I have a dedicated pad of graph paper for each book, as well as big 17 x 22″ sheets for plot maps. I by them online at some architectural supply place because the ones at Staples have paper that is way too thin. There’s something about writing on graph paper that feels a lot like drawing outside the lines or thinking outside the box, or something. It’s totally satisfying though.

  6. They also do a storyboard notebook, which is just lovely. Unfortunately I let the dh see mine and it’s gone baby gone. :) Great excuse to go back to the site and look for something new and lovely to replace it with.

  7. Sally

    Moleskins are so gorgeous! But I cannot afford them, so my favorite for many years, is the Mead Trapper keeper. It’s got all i need. Though I dream of one day the luxury of a moleskin. They do sound so lovely.

  8. Joan Kilby

    I love Moleskin notebooks, too! Funny how a blank computer page can be daunting whereas a blank page in a brand-new notebook is exciting and enticing, just begging to be written on.

  9. Page Traynor

    I had never been to the site and while I and my family have used the notebooks (lined, not lined) had no idea how many kinds there were.
    The is a virtual page you can print with pictures etc from computer that will fit your notebook. One for recipes. Ones to hold cutouts in accordion style.
    One to list books. I haven’t looked for prices yet. Probably need a million dollars to get all I want.Thank you Barbara for posting these.

  10. Shannon Johansen

    I love to drop in on your blogs, you always make me feel so normal. I have my journals clear back to…. gosh High School. I have three I carry with me at all times, one is filled with current writing projects and the other is my daily journal. I keep movie stubs, restaurant business cards in my daily along with personal life. The third is my internet journal where I keep every password in my internet life. But then I have post-it notes I add to all because I write or draw on any surface available. Every year on my birthday I treat myself to a new one.
    And then…. I have one for every trip I have been on, writing in it daily the experiences, pictures and postcards. One of my favorite things to jot down is the details of a really great meal from the type of bread served to dessert.

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