Are Moleskines pretentious? Yup. Guildhall Notebooks and Rhodia Webbies are worse

Someone found this blog through the search query, “are moleskines pretentious”. The answer is so obvious (“yes”) that it worries me someone had to search for it. On the other hand, if you’re going to be a writer / artist / thinker type (see, for example, Rands in Repose for a hacker’s view), they’re pretty handy and probably worth the derisive, deserved stares and commentary you’ll get. Keep using them because you don’t know when a sentence will turn into a book. Or a post. Or something else important.

But I’m getting off-topic, which is how both moleskine notebooks (in the sense of the cover material) and Moleskine™ Notebooks (in the sense of the massive conglomerate that markets such notebooks) are pretentious. It might be even worse to posted about your dissatisfaction with recent Moleskines, along with pictures of the stack you’ve acquired over the years. At the moment, I’ve started using a Guildhall pocket notebook, which is a pain in the ass to find because they’re apparently discontinued (or so says their distributor, Exaclair). If you’re looking for one, start here. But for me, the real question is how well it’ll hold up after six to nine months of rigorous scientific testing that consists of travel in my pocket, backpack, and so forth. Maybe no notebook can, but the older Moleskines seemed to survive quite nicely. We’ll see if the Guildhall does.

One reason using a Moleskine can seem or be pretentious is simple: you appear to be more worried about appearance than what you’re actually doing with it, and writing blog posts, even recursively self-aware blog posts, enhances this problem. I don’t have a solution to this aspect of the issue beyond a suggestion that you actually produce something (posts, novels, paintings, patches to the Linux kernel, hedge funds, etc.) that your notebook habit contributes to.

By the way: after an exhaustive study of notebooks, I’ve discovered that the Rhodia Webbie is optimal. It even beats a $70, hand-made Japanese notebook that’s lovely but has overly thin paper. So if you’re looking for the right notebook, skip my persnickety, endless testing and go straight to the right one.

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