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!