The Moleskine Notebook

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

Actually, let’s just start with the history.

The Moleskine is a cult (if one can call a notebook cult) product that people are absolutely crazy for, as witnessed by all the fan/tribute sites all over the internet.  Every notebook comes with a little wrapper claiming that it’s the “legendary notebook of Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Chatwin”.  According to Wikipedia, however, the name Moleskine wasn’t even registered until 1996.  One would assume that the notebook’s main design is similar to what all these artists and writers used, with the oilcloth cardboard cover and the elastic band to hold it together.  Every book is made by hand by an Italian publisher, Modo & Modo.

I picked up my first Moleskine a couple of years ago, specifically their Horizontal Weekly Pocket Diary, shown here:


I’ve used one every year since, and rarely go anywhere without it.  It’s the perfect size, and with the trademark band, back pocket, and hard cover, it’s great for keeping receipts, ideas, or whatever else together.

They make several different types of books now, including notebooks, diaries, and cahiers.  The notebooks come in all different flavors for different people, with storyboard, watercolor, music, addresses, sketchbooks and even a Japanese notebook.


In 2006 the City Notebooks were released, starting with a few select European cities.  These include city zone maps, for size constraints, Metro maps for public transportation, special sections for shopping, restaurants, etc., and even translucent sticky sheets to overlay on the map pages to create your own directions.  I got one of these when my wife and I traveled to Barcelona in 2007.  Between that and the regular blank notebook I had, I was set.  They’re essentially city guides that you create yourself.  It would probably help if I actually traveled to Barcelona more than once every two or three years, but it was still fun to use.  Here’s a couple scans from my guide (click each for larger images):

barcelonamoleskinemetromapThe Metro Guide.


This is the “Key Map”, with a full map of the city.  Each bordered square is highlighted in close-up maps on separate pages.

The maps are incredibly accurate, and the back pocket is great for keeping ticket stubs, or whatever else you might come across on your travels.  The best part is that is has the basic black hardcover, and the only part that folds out is the Metro map, leaving you to not look like a tourist with some giant map who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing.  They have most big cities in Europe, along with some in Asia, like Hong Kong and Tokyo, and a few North American cities as well.

Like I said above, Moleskines are practically a religion, with people posting sketches they’ve made in their notebooks:


their shelf collections:


and there’s even a company who uses lasers to create cover designs, which are unbelievably cool.


People even write about what kind of pens they like to use with them.  Crazy.

But I can understand the fervor about them.  I’ll be back to get a new planner every year, and if I ever travel to any of the other cities that there’s an existing notebook for, I’ll definitely have to pick up one for that city.

Here’s a few links to check out, and pick one up if you get a chance; they’re a little more expensive than most similar-styled notebooks, but the craftsmanship and just overall coolness makes it worth it.

The Ultimate Moleskine Guide

Moleskine (official)

The Moleskine UK shop

The Moleskine US shop


Flickr Moleskine Photos


~ by skirkster on February 20, 2009.

2 Responses to “The Moleskine Notebook”

  1. all those poor skined moles

  2. Thanks for this! It inspired me to do a little Moleskine tribute myself. BTW, I wondered if the City Map Moleskines were cool (which, duh! Obviously Moleskine wouldn’t let us down!) so it’s sweet to have validation.

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