Stationery Club and Confessions of a Moleskine Fangirl

From Moleitau's Flickr stream: want

After seeing James Ward‘s presentation on London Twirls at Ignite, we found out about Stationery Club.  The second meeting was last night and today people have asked:

“Is it a real club?” Yes.  A real-life, lots of people in a bar, scaring the non-stationery normals out of the room type club.  It looked like there were more than thirty of us upstairs at the Horse and Groom.  I’m not quite sure what I’d expected but yes, it was a semi-serious, question-led discussion which only occasionally descended into drunken chatter, rowdiness and generously traded insults.

“Did you really talk about stationery for two hours?” And the rest. We left about 9:30 because we were ravenous, but I think conversation and debate continued on. There was voting.  It was awesomely good fun.

The topic of choice was the Notebook and it was always going to descend into mayhem when the word Moleskine came up.  Firstly as to whether they’re made of real moleskin,  and should we choose a pronounciation? Or go with the slightly affected ‘Mo-lay-skeen-ay’ in tribute to the the Johnny-come-lately Italian company who’ve reissued them? They used to be produced by family businesses in Paris until 1986.  Is its success a triumph of marketing?  Surely nobody buys into the schlocky story that they peddle with the books – that it was beloved of Bruce Chatwin, Ernest Hemmingway et al.  Meh, who cares? Instead, look at the practical, stylish Muji number which was championed at the meeting – typical thoughtful Japanese design which includes a plastic pocket for cards, two elastics and dotted paper (ooooooh) for versatility.  It was popular, for sure…

But I’m going to be honest.  Even though I’m not quite sure why, I’m a roaring Moleskine fangirl (Clairefontaine being my second choice).  First and foremost because I’ve always liked the stock (though I’ve had issues with the soft-cover A5 folio and bleed-through recently) and paper is always the first and foremost consideration in buying a notebook for me. I’ve got quite the collection in current rotation – currently using the red 18-month week to view diary, the monthly planner for work, various sizes of A6 and A5 black ruled hardcovers for notes, red large cahier journals for writing projects and black ones for morning pages.

I used to have a bad habit of starting lots of different notebooks and running them concurrently for the same projects. I’m trying to stop doing that. Stopping buying them is another matter altogether.  It could also be because I see things like this and this and they make me think that maybe having the notebook is the first step to actually doing something interesting with it, to expressing yourself more creatively:

:: Mike Rohde’s amazing SWSW Interactive 2010 Sketchnotes ::

Perhaps it’s because I’m a freelancer:

Freelancers are more likely than most people to love Moleskine notebooks. We need to keep and manage our own schedules and to-dos. We’re creative, so we need a place to store and expand ideas. We need to take notes at meetings with clients–or at least look like we are. We need to appear productive and busy in coffee-shops–even when we aren’t.

The Freelance Switch

Or because I’m a geek. And an analog geek at that. Maybe I’ve just always had a thing about paper, pens (ooh, pens!) and the potential of a new page.  Perhaps it’s because fond as I am of my mac and iPhone, the former is on its last legs and I need to be super organised at the moment. A notebook doesn’t run out of battery at a crucial moment.

I’m investigating GTD at the moment so what I’m most interested to see is the new Moleskine Folio.  Paper with rounded corners that you can print yourself? Bring. It. On.

6 thoughts on “Stationery Club and Confessions of a Moleskine Fangirl

  1. Never underestimate the power of a good notebook!

    Mine are specially made for me be a screen printer in South East London. She used to sell the notebooks in a little shop in Greenwich. I was so sad when I found out she wasn’t making them anymore. The shop gave me her email, and I asked her to make some for me.

    Five books arrived in the post a week later. Hardbacked, just slightly bigger than A5 and the perfect lined paper – no margin. They make me happy. Writing anything in those books is a joy. Not writing in them and having to make do with normal paper is anything but.

    • There was a bookbinder at #StationeryClub and he’d made some beautiful collections of essays. Then he used the remaining stock to make notebooks for his girlfriend. It had quite the heft to it (it could have killed someone) but it was lovely.


  3. I’d firstly like to admit to a similar Moleskine fandom. There’s something about their softback range in black (the feel of the spine, the lined inside cover ooooo) that I can barely dare to soil with my scrawl. 🙂

    I was originally going to comment about the power of the notebook at the end, though! A recent Jedi mind trick I’ve been trying, and sharing with others: If you meet a bureaucratic brick wall, whip out a little pocket book and start writing down what they’re saying, then ask for their name once they’re done, or at a power play juncture. No-one likes to be on record with responsibility, and it usually gets you where you want to be! Nowhere near as effective with an iPhone, I bet!

    Thanks to Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz for that!

    P.s. I read about the club, and if I lived closer I’d have loved to attend. I’m glad to hear it was as fun as I imagined!

    • Yes, people will generally just think that you’re texting on your iPhone I reckon… much as I do love my iPhone, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to being creative. Or to antagonising jobsworths.
      Stationery Club is well worth a visit! Looking forward to hearing what the next topic is going to be…

  4. Pingback: If James Ward has a nervous breakdown, it’s Molly Skinner’s fault | mondo a-go-go

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