Mini Review: Moleskine Pocket Ruled Notebook

16 05 2011

This Moleskine is over 3 years old, probably bought when they were still almost worth the cost, which was lower then.

The Moleskine is a notebook that has saturated the market (“the market” being defined as “Barnes & Noble”), whose general design is a ubiquitous notebook standard [I don’t know what notebook came up with the design first, and in keeping with the idea that a mini-review shouldn’t take me a ton of time, I won’t look it up for you]. There are some good reasons to buy a Moleskine lined pocket notebook. I will list them for you.

  • You need a lined, hardcover, pocket notebook right away, and Moleskine is the only brand available in this style/size/format.
  • You enjoy cream-colored paper of exceptionally poor quality.
  • You like paying more for a product than it’s worth.
  • Well-known brand names inflated with hype turn you on.
  • You don’t know any better.

Don’t get mad. I have fallen into some of these categories myself. Moleskine was the first brand of serious journal/notebook I cottoned to at the ripe and tender age of however old I was in the 9th grade. And there are some Moleskine products that are decent/not terrible/worth buying/actually okay/and pretty good. This simply isn’t one of them. If you have any self respect, you should not be paying around $12 for a notebook that’s going to treat you this poorly. Maybe at a sub $10 range, I would consider these worth the cost. The problem is almost entirely in the paper; considering that PAPER is the entire point of a notebook, this is a big problem.

My first extensive pen test, probably done months ago. Yes, I know no one should be using Copic sketch markers in a pocket lined Moleskine; I just wanted to see how it did.

Even if most of these look more or less fine from a distance (if you look a little closer, you can see the feathering, especially on the fountain pens), almost every pen can be seen through the page.

Well this side is now useless.

For the sake of science, I decided to replicate these findings with another pen test blitz.

Science concludes that this paper is terrible.

The back is even worse than the last sample.

Why even bother giving the paper two sides if I can't use them both?

Anyone who uses fountain pens, or rollerballs and gel pens with a tip size above around 0.5mm, don’t even bother. Donate your Moleskine to someone who would just be appreciative to have any paper at all. Just…just look at this!

LOOK AT IT! LOOK! THIS IS THE MOST AWFUL THING. Seriously, click and look at the bigger image.

So you only use ballpoints and fine-tipped, ink frugal pens? You still shouldn’t be paying this much! There are notebooks that are much better (Rhodia webnotebook), and definitely notebooks that are the same or better AND cheaper (Ecosystem journals, Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks, Piccadilly journals, for example). And all of those notebooks I just listed have the whole elastic closure, ribbon bookmark, back pocket nonsense you know and love in the Moleskine. Only, get this—with good paper. It’s crazy.

I’m not going to link you to a place to buy this Moleskine notebook. One, they are everywhere. Two, you shouldn’t be buying it.

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10 responses

16 05 2011
Ryan

This may be the best, most honest Moleskine review, ever.

16 05 2011
Tom O.

Harsh review, but well deserved considering the product quality. Over a year ago, I got a Moleskine that I made my official journal until it has been completely filled and I’m eagerly awaiting that day when I can put it away and get a Rhodia Webbie to have in its place. At the time I got the Moleskine, I didn’t see any online reviews like yours telling me that me and my fountain pens should obviously be writing elsewhere.
I’ve been able to stomach it when using ligher color, less saturated inks with a fine or extra-fine nib.

16 05 2011
Jennifer

Word, sister. WORD.

I have a Moleskine diary, which thankfully I did not pay full price for, and the paper is just appalling. I mean, I’m one of those weirdo ballpoint fanatics anyway, so showthrough isn’t really a problem except when there’s the occasional glob, but you can still see writing come through on the verso side of any given page. It is really atrocious and overpriced paper – I don’t even like the cream color. I’ve made a mental note to never, ever buy a Moleskine again, because ugh. Basically everything you’ve said.

(Plus, less crucially, it’s really annoying how fast the ribbon marker frays. I like my stationary products neat and tidy and that drives me up the walls.)

17 05 2011
Economy Pens

Hear hear! I bought a Moleskine Academic Planner and, well, I can use pencil on it and .38 (or lower) gel pens. And it still shows through. Like the darn thing is paper towel.

I love the appearance of these books but using them is… less than satisfying.

I am so glad you told it how it is. Pass on this and get something from the Clairefontaine family tree, a Black ‘n’ Red, Field Notes, Picadilly – anything else would do better.

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