Review – Moleskine Softcover Pocket Book

Perhaps I lose a little bit of “reviewer credibility” when I say that my main notebooks for years have been Moleskine ones (specifically hardcover pocket and large). I know they’re not the best notebooks in the world, and I am phasing them out of my routine (since I’ve mostly stopped with specific daily uses, and uniformity is less of an issue for a while) but they are widely available, simple, and consistent books of decent quality. That being said, the ones I use have always been hardcover, and at this (192 page) size I prefer the rigidity of a hard-back, but am I being unfair to the softcover books?

photo 1-64photo 2-63

First off, all Moleskines come with a wrap-around paper “package”, and I’ll admit, my book is old enough I don’t know where it went, but I assume now they have updated it to the same useless “reusable” packaging that has vague blanks about travel to fill in if that floats your boat. The cover itself is a nice, flexible (black) pleather wrapped around the book in a single piece. On the back “Moleskine®” is stylishly stamped near the bottom and the elastic band is attached at two points. The cover has a pleasant texture that is relatively even and doesn’t scratch easily, but does show the binding and attachment points underneath and impressions from the elastic closure. It also easily divots and is structurally weak at the corners.

photo 3-58photo 4-52

Inside is the same-old Moleskine stuff: a “belongs to” page at the front, a cheap ribbon bookmark (mine unravel more and more often these days), and a sturdy pocket in the back that I’ve never personally found a use for. The paper is a pleasant off-white with a nice smooth (but not slick) texture that takes ballpoints and pencil very well (if you’re using it one sided {so no 192 pages, as advertised}). With anything more significant you get a lot of show-through, and with fountain pens or markers you’ll get bleed-through. I find it pleasant to write or sketch on, and the fact that it’s acid-free means your work is safe over time, but it is fairly fragile stuff (I wouldn’t erase too much).

photo 5-20

In the end it’s what I expected, the same Moleskine quality with a cover that is more easily bent and damaged (I do care about how my books look). It will probably hold up to most types of use, but it won’t look pretty at the end (the pocket at the back does mean it maintains support for off-the-table use, though). It’s a fine notebook, with decentness all-around, from page feel to binding, but it seems like less and less of a deal as things progress. One can find books at WalMart (potentially of dubious archival-quality) that do the same things cheaper these days, and they might not have the same quality control, but they are so much cheaper. I like the Moleskines for their ubiquity and uniformity, but they’ve always been overpriced, and this cover just doesn’t do it for me.


Review – Rhodia 3×4.75(5) Staple Bound Pocket Notebook

Pocket notebooks are something that, it seems to me, are becoming more of a “thing” again. Whether or not it was just me being unable to find them early in the 2000s, or them not existing in large quantities at the time, I don’t know. Still, I seem to find newer, and possibly better, pocket notebooks all the time, like the Rhodia 3×5 48-page 80g notebook I stumbled across at my local bookstore.


The color of my notebook is black (it can be orange), with orange lettering printed on, making it look like the Rhodia premium pads, but it contains regular, stark white, 80g Rhodia paper. My particular book is a graph ruling in a light purple that is customary for the brand. I quite like it, but prefer a light blue for graphs. The 3×5″ size makes the book small and convenient to put in any pocket. Being a half-inch shorter on either side to a field notes book, I was surprised at the places this book could go that the latter couldn’t. The 48 pages are quite sufficient for making lists, a few sketches, or even a few stories, and about the right length to prevent the destruction of the book by the time it is completed.


The cover quality is nice. It is thicker than the paper without being cumbersome, and seems tear- and crease-resistant, though I wouldn’t push it. The ink used to print the logo and info on the back is much more heavy-duty than what is used on the pads and holds up without smearing, chipping, or fading for quite some time. The staple binding is a weakness in some cases, being a bending point, but overall causes little damage since the size is so small. And the paper is typical wonderful Rhodia. It is thick and smooth, taking everything from pencils to fountain pens with no problem. It is an absolute pleasure to write on, though with some liquid inks taking time to dry, one has to be careful. If they are looking for speed, a non-liquid pen should be looked into, but even ballpoints feel great on the paper. Bleed-through and feathering are minimal. Show-through is unfortunately common, and tearing is unlikely but possible if the book is going out on an adventure.

Overall, these little notebooks are a great addition to the pocket notebook collection. They are heavy lifters for their size, and the black ones are fairly covert and classic looking. And, of course, they all but disappear in a pocket. A great little book to look into especially if you think Field Notes are just slightly too large.