Moleskine Dotted Pocket Notebook – Soft Cover – Underwater Blue

23 03 2014

I can’t ignore the most popular and pretentious notebook maker, even when I’ve had extensive first-hand experience with their paper quality being generally terrible and all their products being overpriced. For one thing, I do like the format of some of their calendars—the extra small weekly calendar is perfect for keeping track of my work schedule. Plus, their notebooks are ubiquitous, and I denounce them at my own peril. Every so often I will check back in on the quality of Moleskine, to make sure my denouncements stand on experienced fact, and a brand new style of paper in the form of a dot grid notebook was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Underwater blue maybe if you're under water and drunk and looking at a robin's egg

Underwater blue maybe if you’re under water and drunk and looking at a robin’s egg

We’ve got this attractive robin’s egg blue cover that I would describe as almost distressingly soft. The corners of the front cover want to curl up when the elastic isn’t on. Soft covers are so strange to me. What is the advantage of soft cover anyway? Are they easier to stuff in a back pocket because they fold around your buns?

I will give bonus points for the color-coordinated back pocket accents

I will give bonus points for the color-coordinated back pocket accents

All the usual features are here: braided bookmark, back pocket, elastic band (all matching in color), and the “In case of loss” section in the front, with a newer dot-based Moleskine logo (or maybe it’s supposed to evoke apps? I know I’ve seen it before, perhaps online).

Ahahaha I forgot to take a picture of the back of the page...too late now

Ahahaha I forgot to take a picture of the back of the page…too late now

A cursory glance will tell you that this dot paper doesn’t look like it does as bad with fountain pen ink as a typical Moleskine. Let’s look at typical Moleskine for reference.

Notes section from this year’s planner

Notes section from this year’s planner

Now look again at the Moleskine dots paper.

Why the bluish tint? Why did I do all these backwards? These are the mysteries of a rainy day

Why the bluish tint? Why did I do all these backwards? These are the mysteries of a rainy day

Better. But a curious pattern emerges—the best performance by far on the Moleskine dots paper comes from using the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink. Look at the difference.

LOOK AT IT

LOOK AT IT

Most regular inks are prone to some bleedthrough so bad you can’t use both sides of the page—not so with the Scabiosa, especially when writing in cursive. Lest we get too excited and forget what regular good paper is like, let’s look at some tests on Leuchtturm1917 paper.

Beautiful Leuchtturm1917 paper

Beautiful Leuchtturm1917 paper

Based on the evidence, I’m concluding the following:

  • This Moleskine dots paper is of better quality than most Moleskine writing paper
  • It’s still not as good as known fountain pen friendly paper (such as Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm1917, Quo Vadis, etc. etc.) but—
  • Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa iron gall ink is magical, and can be combined with the Moleskine dots paper for a fountain pen friendly experience.
Acceptable!

Acceptable!

I feel like this is the kind of product you can only offer a backhanded endorsement to. “I don’t always use my fountain pens in substandard notebooks, but when I do I prefer Moleskine dots (with Scabiosa ink).” It won’t give you the best performance but with the right ink the paper performs quite acceptably (of course, if you prefer using gel pens or ballpoints, this whole paper quality discussion is pretty much moot to you). This notebook is a fun spring color, and surprisingly not a complete waste of money. Good job, Moleskine!

Moleskine Notebook – Pocket – Dotted – Underwater Blue – Soft at Moleskine





Mini Review: Moleskine Pocket Sketch Notebook Red Cover

17 07 2011

For your educational entertainment: 3.5 x 5.5 inches, 80 pages (40 leaves), allegedly 250gsm, hard cover, with elastic binding, bookmark, and back pocket

In my last Moleskine review, I mentioned that “there are some Moleskine products that are decent/not terrible/worth buying/actually okay/and pretty good.” I consider the Moleskine pocket sketchbook to fall somewhere in one of those “not the worst thing ever sold as a notebook” categories.

The Moleskine pocket sketchbook, in terms of paper, cannot even dream of holding a candle up to, say, Strathmore or Canson sketchbooks. If my only consideration is paper, it’s Strathmore or Canson all day, every day, until they stop making sketchbooks. But sometimes, I don’t want to use a wire spiral-bound sketchbook. Sometimes I want something that looks…ugh…more elegant, or simpler, or just less obviously like the art supply it is. That is when the Moleskine pocket sketchbook is perfect.

Paper you can use??? Are we sure this is actually a Moleskine product?

The paper is nice and thick, like cardstock. Ink dries very quickly, because the paper is unusually absorbent but not feathersome or fuzzy-prone. There are two peculiarities to the Moleskine sketch paper: first, there’s something, I don’t know what, about this paper and its absorbency that makes every (I’m guessing) water-based ink look muted. As though the paper, in exchange for drying quickly, sucks all life out of the ink. The india-ink-based Faber-Castell PITT artist pens and the ballpoint pens seem to be the only pens unaffected. The other oddity is that in unpredictable places, the paper does not want to take ink properly, as though the surface were…I don’t know, waxy? I don’t feel anything different while writing, but I can clearly see the lines take on an unusual quality. I think it’s easiest to see in the two Pelikan Griffix samples at the top, toward the middle; you can even see in the sample on the page to the right how, as the marks progress across the page, that weird quality goes away. Unfortunately, I have no idea why this happens, and no idea how to predict when this will happen. Maybe it’s rare! Maybe it’s something that happens on every page. I don’t know yet; for now, it’s a red flag, but not a deal-breaker. Also of note, the paper is an off-white cream color, not white. Whether this is good or bad depends on your preference. Unless the off-whiteness is the cause of all other oddities in the paper…

Given the amount of ink that dropped from my TWSBI, I'm surprised that only a little bit made it onto the next page. Good work, thick paper.

There’s some bleedthrough and show-through, but it varies obviously based on what you’re using, and how many times you go over your lines (alas, I tend to go over and cross lines a lot when doodling with fountain pens).

I've seen better. I've seen worse. Not much exciting here.

Being a Moleskine product, there’s a hefty “overhyped brand” tax included in the price; the cheapest I’ve found is at the Book Depository, which appears to have no tax and free shipping. But in spite of the weirdness of the paper, if you want to get a sketchbook that doesn’t look like a sketchbook, this isn’t a bad option, and it can be found at a decent price.

The Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook: at its worst, not terrible! At its best, actually okay!