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Moleskine, mole-ay skee-nay

When pronounced properly (mole-ay-skee-nay or the French mole-skeen), it sounds like a condiment or the name of a snowy sports complex… But Moleskine is actually the brand name for notebooks that have been around for ages and seem to be gaining in popularity. (At first I thought it was pronounced like it looks – mole-skin… which made me wonder what the cover was made with…)

What makes a Moleskine special or different from the everyday journal?


This is one of Van Gogh’s…

Van Gogh Moleskine

But also the craftsmanship and features…

Some distinguishing characteristics of the Moleskine?


They’re typically black in color… They’re durable… bound with thread instead of glue… so the pages won’t pull out… this also allows them lay flat. The cover is oil-cloth covered known as moleskine.

There is a bookmark ribbon sewn in and a bound elastic band holds the book shut.

They come in all sorts of styles, sizes and formats from blank, lines and grids to sketch book, story-board, musical staff, and watercolor paper… as well as traditional styles like a phone book, dated diary/appointment journals…

Some History
In every Moleskine, there is a slip of paper that explains the story of the Moleskine in 6 languages. (I’ve added a few links to provide context).

The history of a legendary notebook

Moleskine is the legendary notebook, used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin. This trusty, pocket-size travel companion held sketches, notes, stories and ideas before they were turned into famous images or pages of beloved books.

Originally produced by small French bookbinders who supplied the Parisian stationery shops frequented by the international avant-garde, by the end of the twentieth century the Moleskine notebook was no longer available. In 1986, the last manufacturer of Moleskine, a family operation in Tours, closed its shutters forever. “Le vrai Moleskine n’est plus” were the lapidary words of the owner of the stationery shop in Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie where Chatwin stocked up on the notebooks. The English writer had ordered a hundred of them before leaving for Australia: he bought up all the Moleskine that he could find, but they were not enough.

In 1998, a small Milanese publisher brought Moleskine back again. As the self-effacing keeper of an extraordinary tradition, Moleskine once again began to travel the globe. To capture reality on the move, pin down details, impress upon paper unique aspects of experience: Moleskine is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time.

The legendary black notebook is once again being passed from one pocket to the next; with its various different page styles it accompanies the creative professions and the imagination of our time. The adventure of Moleskine continues, and its still-blank pages will tell the rest.

As you can imagine… by using one… You’ll be in good company.

Where to Get Them
The Moleskine official website states, “Moleskine is sold in all the best bookshops and in particular at: Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waterstone, FNAC, Feltrinelli, Mondadori.”

If you can’t find them locally, follow this Google Search for “buy moleskine

A Few Moleskine Sites
Once you move beyond ‘this is just a notebook’ to ‘hey this is a really cool tool’ – you’ll find these links helpful!

  • Moleskine – the official company (Modo & Modo) website. Check out the Press section.
  • Moleskinerie – one of the best ‘fan’ sites.
  • 43Folders Moleskine Hacks and here – a overall personal organization site, but also includes Moleskine ‘hacks.’
  • Methods (here, here and here) for modifying your Moleskine to hold a pen/pencil.
  • Moleskine Images – Images tagged ‘Moleskine’ on Flickr.
  • Moleskine Art – Folks share the artwork they’ve created in and on their Moleskine. (site is image heavy – may download slowly)
  • SketchBob – features artwork he has made over the past 20-years much of it within Moleskines…
    Wandering Moleskine Project – A set of Moleskines were sent around the world and each person had a week to make a contribution to the pages… Images of the books are posted. Interesting.
  • Here’s what Wikipedia has to say -> Moleskine.
  • To help your personal creativity, I recommend keeping an Idea Journal. The Moleskine works perfectly for this. Here’s more about keeping an Idea Journal.


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