Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Stephen Bayley: Not Fit For Purpose?

The Graun has this article about the "joy of Moleskine notebooks" which quotes "cultural critic" Stephen Bayley as saying:
"It's a masterful bit of excavation of the human psyche...The stuff you're writing in it could be the most brainless trivia, but it makes you feel connected to Hemingway."

This is, of course, nonsense.  I could understand the quote if he was being paid by Moleskine to say it, but the only masterstroke I can see is one of marketing.  I admit, I was taken in at first.  Those alluring stands of notebooks stacked in Waterstone's were very attractive indeed, and I bought a few.  Disappointment soon followed when I discovered the paper makes fountain pen ink bleed like crazy, and that the binding is not as robust as it might be.

I don't much feel like Hemingway when using one of my Moleskines, actually. 

By the way, thanks to everyone who responded to my last post on sketchbooks.


  1. That little quotation is very entertaining to me. I understand that many people adore Moleskine, but for some reason, I just never catch on. Perhaps I am not the Hemingway material? :)

  2. I like Moleskine notebooks but not the hype. I'd point out that writers often use the most humble materials. Draft pages of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest are in ballpoint pen on looseleaf paper.

    About fountain pens: it might vary with the ink. I use Pelikan ink and haven't had problems with Moleskine paper.

  3. I enjoy good marketing and must admit that I sometimes let myself happily seduce into buying. Moleskine's marketing, however, is just stupid (at least to me) so I have always given their products a wide berth. Besides that, the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are better in any aspect :-)

  4. Agreed. I use Moleksines, but only with pencil. For fountain pens, the Quo Vadis Havana series and the Orange Circle studio notebooks are superior and cheaper!! I particularly love the Quo Vadis paper - it's like silk to the touch.

  5. Golden Path
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    Qlxchange Ha detto: interessante

  6. I use pencils in Moleskines mostly but sometimes a medium Parker 51 with Manhattan Blue ink. I have never experienced anything worse than very light feathering. I do not really care: Moleskines for me are for notes and drafts, not calligraphy. I also like that they can be found in most places in the world, in case I use mine up while traveling.

  7. I use moleskins for drawing, I get the softbacked ones. You must be trying to hate them.

    Its like how people hate macs because they are popular (I don't own a mac)

    I for one have found them to be very nice to draw in (pencil and pen) and very handy. I have 3 here right now for different art projects I am working on.

    Swings and roundabouts

  8. "Trying to hate them"?

    I don't think so.

    My objection to Moleskines is based solely on the paper which is not fit for purpose. I have used more than a few, so my opinion is based on experience.

    Your Mileage, as they say, May Vary.

  9. Yeah form reading more of your blog it seems your experience with them is more for writing so its understandable why they might not be as good as other options.

    My view was from an artists perspective where I've found it hard to find a nice 'drawing' book. Most come with lines where as the moleskin drawing range have nice thick paper that feels good to draw on. I think thats part of the place they do well.

    However I am looking to try out different options, so could you could suggest a good sketchbook to try?

  10. I too experienced bleed in a Moleskine notebook, so moved on the the superior Leuchtturm 1917. I had to buy a Moleskine whilst travelling as I had filled my journal, so opted for the artists book, suitable for watercolours, and it was fine, just not very many pages for the price