This has really gone too far: When the WSJ starts writing about how cool Moleskine notebooks are, and even BoingBoing starts drooling over the things and talking about how many bloggers love them, you know something is amiss. Really, now: Moleskines are cute, black, metrosexual notebooks with off-white paper and clever-ish folders in the back where you can stuff receipts, scraps of paper, $20 bills, sticks of nicotine gum, and the like. They cost $10 and up and they come with a long, mostly bullshit story about Hemingway and Cezanne and Italy to make you feel like the cost is justified. But people, come on: You are getting excited over nothing more than a stack of yellowish paper and some cardboard, even if it does have a good story and a built-in elastic band. I mean, there’s not even a loop to hold a pencil or pen.
I’ll admit, I am heavily reliant on paper notebooks, and god knows I’ve tried dozens of different notebook styles and notetaking schemes over the years. I even own a moleskine, and had high hopes for it — for awhile. But I keep coming back to 99 cent, 3×5, top-bound spiral memo pads. Just before they fall apart, as they always do after a month or so in my back pocket, I bind them together with duct tape. Cheap, low-tech, available from any store, and eminently practical. Plus, it’s the most compact and portable notetaking mechanism I know of — even moleskines are big by comparison, and too rigid to ride comfortably in a pants pocket. Plus, the damn things are expensive and available only in select bookstores and stationery shops. No wonder the technorati love them.