Mink Machine

Moleskines of the world

In the digital society of 2007, I suppose that plain notebooks are on the decline. However, there are times when you don’t want to bring a laptop. This is where the classic Moleskine notebooks enter the scene. Due to the quality and portable format, I find them very useful and always bring one or two with me on all travel occasions.

Moleskines were the eternal travel companions of Bruce Chatwin, one of my favorite travel writers. Each time he went to Paris, he would buy a fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, located on the Left Bank. They are often mentioned in his books:

“Do you mind if I use my notebook?” I asked.
“Go ahead.”
I pulled from my pocket a black, oilcloth-covered notebook, its pages held in place with an elastic band. “Nice notebook”, he said.
“I used to get them in Paris”, I said. “But now they don’t make them any more.”
“Paris?” he repeated, raising an eyebrow as if he’d never heard anything so pretentious. Then he winked and went on talking.
– Bruce to Arkady, dialogue from The Songlines (travel diary from the Australian outback)

The last manufacturer of Moleskine closed up in 1986. Chatwin had ordered a hundred of them before leaving for Australia, but it was not enough to keep it going. However, a Milanese publisher brought the Moleskine back in 1998.

Chatwin’s 85 Moleskine notebooks are now located in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Apart from Chatwin, Moleskine have been used by people such as Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh and Neil Gaiman.

In this day and age, paper notebooks are becoming increasingly rare to find on people. Not surprisingly, there is a blog called Moleskinerie, a hub for Moleskine users. It was recently acquired by Kikkerland, the U.S. distributors for Moleskines.

“To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe. In twenty odd years of travel, I lost only two. One vanished on an Afghan bus. The other was filched by the Brazilian secret police.” – Bruce Chatwin

Before you embark on your next adventure, remember to stock up on a pile of Moleskines.

2 comments

  • Damn straight! I think notebooks are great and use them all the time but only because there’s still not a computer that fit those needs. I guess the Palm V was the closest match for me and I haven’t used one of those since 1999!
    The Tablet PC held a lot of promise but underwhelmed immensily. Today, I think Apple is perhaps best positioned with it’s promising iPhone techie stuff.
    What I want is this: a really thin (less than one centimeter) computer with no keyboard and a 10′ screen with a stylus. It should boot in under a second. The interface should not suck. I could pay a lot of money for that.

  • avatar
    17 Jul, 2007

    I would also like to have such a computer! Unfortunately I don’t think the iPhone will be ideal for notebook purposes, but most likely one of the better alternatives until the birth of MacMoleskine. :)

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