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Moleskine's dropping in quality?



somanypens_toolittletime

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somanypens_toolittletime

Hi guys, I was wondering if I am going mad or is Moleskine's paper... dropping in quality? I had a Moleskine weekly planners in 2018. This worked fine. There was bleedthrough for broad nibs etc. Not the most fountain pen friendly but alright. I bought one for 2021. The paper is noticeably thinner to the touch and even my fine nibs bleedthrough now. Is it just me? Am I going mad? 

 

What other brands would people recommend? I am in HK, maybe I am not knowledgeable but I cannot find any other planners with fountain pen friendly paper... All I see everywhere are Moleskines, Moleskines and Moleskines....Thanks. 

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  • Beechwood

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Karmachanic

A suggestion.

Open the Paper and Paraphanalia section. At the top right, in the search section, type 'planner' and click 'This Forum'. You will find many answers to your question.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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somanypens_toolittletime

Thanks Karmachanic! New to the forum hahaha, there is such a wealth of information!

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Beechwood

The paper quality dropped about 15 years ago, if it has dropped again that is really bad news.

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Runnin_Ute

I arrived on FPN in December 2012 and people were complaining about Moleskine paper quality then. So no, not a surprise. 

 

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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Beechwood

It is a great pity because Moleskine have a good marketing network, some niche products and prices are ok, for jacket pocket botebooks I could be persuaded to go pencil

 

😨

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silverlifter

I use Moleskins (their A4 lined journal and pocket size cahiers) and they work just fine for me with fine nibs and iron gall or permanent inks: no bleedthrough or feathering, minimal show through.

Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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A Smug Dill
1 minute ago, Beechwood said:

It is a great pity because Moleskine have a good marketing network,

 

The high level of visibility and accessibility of the brand to the average consumer, by being prominently on display in at least half the bookstores and department stores in town, is indeed Moleskine's greatest asset. However, I only think it's a great pity if it gives people the wrong impression, when they put fountain pen to Moleskine paper, that it is the ‘fault’ or characteristic of fountain pen (inks) that make the marks look so imprecise and horrid, and the experience turns them away from the hobby.

 

Not harnessing Moleskine's asset and reach to make better outcomes more accessible and/or cheaper to the individual hobbyists, who would then be expected to reward the company with brand loyalty, is hardly a great pity for the fountain pen community and already committed hobbyists.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Beechwood
3 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

 

The high level of visibility and accessibility of the brand to the average consumer, by being prominently on display in at least half the bookstores and department stores in town, is indeed Moleskine's greatest asset. However, I only think it's a great pity if it gives people the wrong impression, when they put fountain pen to Moleskine paper, that it is the ‘fault’ or characteristic of fountain pen (inks) that make the marks look so imprecise and horrid, and the experience turns them away from the hobby.

 

Not harnessing Moleskine's asset and reach to make better outcomes more accessible and/or cheaper to the individual hobbyists, who would then be expected to reward the company with brand loyalty, is hardly a great pity for the fountain pen community and already committed hobbyists.

 

What?

 

The first Moley that I bought was imported, this was around 1995, it was a specialist product and before the business was acquired by others, the books had perfect paper, I bought the books again through to 2006 after that the quality fell off a cliff and I could not use Moleys for my regular pens. By 2012 Moleskine had started retail outlets and certain niche notebooks.

 

Please don't respond again Smug, I cannot do with every post you make being a lecture, its tedious in the extreme and unique to you. It just ends up with a situation that I feel I need to clarify my point.

 

This is my opinion Smug, I would like to go into a  Moleskine shop and buy their products.

 

Your opinion may be that "Not harnessing Moleskine's asset and reach to make better outcomes more accessible and/or cheaper to the individual hobbyists, who would then be expected to reward the company with brand loyalty, is hardly a great pity for the fountain pen community and already committed hobbyists."

 

My opinion is the opposite of your final 13 words and maintain it is a pity that Moleskine with their product reach, marketing and designs do not use paper that I can use with a regular inks and a medium or broad nib.

 

If you just wont to be argumentative find another thread or forum please

 

 

 

 

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A Smug Dill
1 minute ago, Beechwood said:

Please don't respond again Smug, I cannot do with every post you make being a lecture, its tedious in the extreme and unique to you.

 

It's not incumbent on me to withdraw from where you'd like to look, however politely you phrase your request. If you really object to reading my sermons...

 

 

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I agree. Moleskine has dropped in quality, which is a typical side effect of success: once you have a large market share, then growing income through market growth becomes ever more difficult. Many companies prefer the alternative approach of reducing production costs by reducing quality to keep their profit growing.

 

If you want nice organizers with good paper and nice looks, I would advice Paperblanks. If not, though I haven't tried them, Midoru also has a great reputation. There are many more and possibly your best choice, as suggested, is to use the search facility in the Paper and Pen Paraphernalia and read the reviews.

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Beechwood
8 hours ago, txomsy said:

I agree. Moleskine has dropped in quality, which is a typical side effect of success: once you have a large market share, then growing income through market growth becomes ever more difficult. Many companies prefer the alternative approach of reducing production costs by reducing quality to keep their profit growing.

 

If you want nice organizers with good paper and nice looks, I would advice Paperblanks. If not, though I haven't tried them, Midoru also has a great reputation. There are many more and possibly your best choice, as suggested, is to use the search facility in the Paper and Pen Paraphernalia and read the reviews.

 

The first Moleskine I bought was around 1996-7, a special import from Italy where they were used by the clergy, as you suggest the quality was of a high order with leather boards and quality cream paper. The quality stepped down when the marketing men took hold of the brand in the mid 2000s. I live near the financial centre in London and they remain a popular choice of notebook in the area for the bright young things to take their meeting notes. There is an excellent Moleskin store that is just 1km from me, what a pity that the products don't suit my pen.

 

https://gb.moleskine.com/en/store?id=37778

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The fact that they used to make good products in 1995 is relevant only from the standpoint that it helps to explain their success.  I became aware of them around then, too, but I wasn't using fountain pens.  At the time, though, I thought pockets and ribbons were a really nice touch and, yes, I was suckered by the way they channeled images of Steinbeck.  IMO they were successful because of both a quality product and a successful marketing engine.


But I assume that Moleskine's marking and name recognition and success that followed from it is exactly why their products are inappropriate for the fountain pen niche.  They are too big to target the fountain pen market: we don't buy enough of their notebooks to be worth the increase to the production cost to put in decent paper.  I think it's naïve to expect anything else. 

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Beechwood
7 minutes ago, XYZZY said:

The fact that they used to make good products in 1995 is relevant only from the standpoint that it helps to explain their success.  I became aware of them around then, too, but I wasn't using fountain pens.  At the time, though, I thought pockets and ribbons were a really nice touch and, yes, I was suckered by the way they channeled images of Steinbeck.  IMO they were successful because of both a quality product and a successful marketing engine.


But I assume that Moleskine's marking and name recognition and success that followed from it is exactly why their products are inappropriate for the fountain pen niche.  They are too big to target the fountain pen market: we don't buy enough of their notebooks to be worth the increase to the production cost to put in decent paper.  I think it's naïve to expect anything else. 

 

Yes, you are correct. The business model has gone from a niche supplier selling less than 3200 notebooks a year to a global business. From memory they were bought out.  I cannot imagine that they would now change their product line for a limited number of sales.

 

As I said above, if I buy a Moleskine I know I cannot use a fountain pen, I have some unused Leuchtturm, my pens/inks have the same issue with that paper, perhaps not quite as bad. If I ever do use them I will need to break out the pencils.

 

 

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inkstainedruth
18 hours ago, Runnin_Ute said:

I arrived on FPN in December 2012 and people were complaining about Moleskine paper quality then. So no, not a surprise. 

 

Same here.  

At this point, it seems that Moleskine is surviving on their (former) reputation.  Only with better quality, less expensive brands on the market, they're just shooting themselves in the foot.  Sadly, the same thing could be said of many brands.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Karmachanic

Moleskine's 1997 first production run was 5000.  !998 20,000.  Now there are Moleskine Cafés. Business seems to be good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moleskine.

 

Only FP users are cryin' da blues.  I still have pocket cahiers purchased 10 yrs ago that'll take an EF/F nib.  I've taken to using on-demand TR pocket notebooks, and Stalogy 368 page A6.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Come to think of it... yeah, I also became aware of Moleskine in the '90s. By then, it was the paper, pocket, rubber band, etc... that made them attractive when I was looking for "little black notebooks" (LBN from now on).

 

Now, I had been using LBNs for... well, forever. Mostly to annotate things I needed to keep at hand in a pocket: formulas, numbers, algorithms, methods, lab. protocols, phone numbers... When I go back to some of those I still keep, I see a number of brands, among them Oxford, Miquelrius, etc., where some still exist... and keep the paper as good as then, and often better. New brands, like Paperblanks have appeared with more flashy designs.

 

So, don't give me the argument FPs are a niche market. 'Cos it isn't true. First and foremost, FP friendly paper is also good for ballpoints, rollerballs, felt-tip and other pens, hence good paper would be sold to all the market as well.

 

Heck! Even lead pencil drawing, which demands a more rugged paper can be addressed. I reviewed some Tiger drafting notebooks which were great for pencils and FPs as well (although their paper has gone down the pit recently), so it is possible as well, and for a great price if you want. Those Tiger notebooks were around for several years before someone decided to "upgrade" them to cheap paper.

 

Not to mention my old notebooks. They were not in coated paper, but still were both (any) pen and pencil friendly.

 

And, even if that were not the case, what I remember of the original Moleskines is that they were more expensive than all other LBNs. At least two or three times more. And yet, they succeeded. There is nothing precluding them from getting out a "premium" line and seeing how it sells. But then, they would have to be competitive with the likes of Clairefontaine, Liderpapel, Midoru, Miquelrius, Paperblanks, Rhodia, and many, many others that now sell better notebooks (and a vast variety of models, designs and papers) at lower prices, possibly reducing their profit margin. No way they will try to become competitive as long as the brand name keeps selling.

 

To finish: I did like Moleskines. But as with some other brands, I cannot stand them now. Maybe one day they'll come to their senses and be attractive to me again. Would love it, but for now, there are plenty of better choices around.

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17 hours ago, txomsy said:

I agree. Moleskine has dropped in quality, which is a typical side effect of success: once you have a large market share, then growing income through market growth becomes ever more difficult. Many companies prefer the alternative approach of reducing production costs by reducing quality to keep their profit growing.

 

If you want nice organizers with good paper and nice looks, I would advice Paperblanks. If not, though I haven't tried them, Midoru also has a great reputation. There are many more and possibly your best choice, as suggested, is to use the search facility in the Paper and Pen Paraphernalia and read the reviews.

 

17 hours ago, Beechwood said:

 

The first Moleskine I bought was around 1996-7, a special import from Italy where they were used by the clergy, as you suggest the quality was of a high order with leather boards and quality cream paper. The quality stepped down when the marketing men took hold of the brand in the mid 2000s. I live near the financial centre in London and they remain a popular choice of notebook in the area for the bright young things to take their meeting notes. There is an excellent Moleskin store that is just 1km from me, what a pity that the products don't suit my pen.

 

https://gb.moleskine.com/en/store?id=37778

 

14 hours ago, inkstainedruth said:

Same here.  

At this point, it seems that Moleskine is surviving on their (former) reputation.  Only with better quality, less expensive brands on the market, they're just shooting themselves in the foot.  Sadly, the same thing could be said of many brands.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

13 hours ago, Karmachanic said:

Moleskine's 1997 first production run was 5000.  !998 20,000.  Now there are Moleskine Cafés. Business seems to be good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moleskine.

 

Only FP users are cryin' da blues.  I still have pocket cahiers purchased 10 yrs ago that'll take an EF/F nib.  I've taken to using on-demand TR pocket notebooks, and Stalogy 368 page A6.

 

Building a brand is one kind of challenge.

Exploiting and maintaining a brand is a different kind of challenge.

Both challenges involve giving the customers what they want. The problem I see is that the customers in both cases might be different.

 

My experience with Moleskine is consistent with the stories I see here in terms of a drop off in quality, particularly paper quality. Back in the early 2000s, a buddy of mine (the same guy who turned me onto my first Pelikan pen) gave me my first Moleskine, and I really bought into to the whole idea and history, to the point where I even used to sit at the bar and go through the ritual of numbering the pages (I was traveling a lot in those days and spent a lot of evenings eating dinner in hotel bars), as described in the little historical insert that came in those days with a Moleskine. As the paper quality dropped off, so too did my use of Moleskine products.

 

If I am not a bitter former Moleskine fanboi, I suppose I am a least disappointed former customer. Moleskine clearly did not have me in mind as they have further developed their products into what they are today. Fortunately there are alternatives, which for me at present often involve items from Traveler's Notebooks.

 

But as someone above mentioned, the Moleskine brand seems to be growing, so they are apparently doing something right (assuming their growth in sales outlets corresponds to bigger financial success), even if whatever being done does not thrill a lot of FP users.

 

There is an old corollary to an even older saying: "the customer is always right, but not everyone is your customer."

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I got my first (and only) Moleskine notebook in the late 2000s, and I loved it- for whatever reason I'd never had a notebook of that precise format before. I brought it on a trip to Japan and was surprised to see Moleskine notebooks everywhere I went- custom ones for sale at various tourist attractions.

 

Back in the day I didn't bring fountain pens on trips, too much of a faff. I wasn't aware of how useless the Moleskine paper was with fountain pens until I returned home a few moons later. Needless to say I found notebooks of the same format and bought those instead. I still think the format is perfect for a daily carry notebook, but I've not found a notebook I thought was perfect. Everything about the Moleskine is right except the paper quality. A shame they don't release a 'premium' line.

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I do agree that Moleskine notebooks are somewhat detrimental to the uptake of fountain pens, along with all crappy paper. I've had Western colleagues ask why I write with "those stupid things"- stupid apparently because they always bleed through or feather. For the price Moleskine charge, punters believe they're getting premium paper, and therefore the bleed through and feathering they experience must be the fault of the ink and pen.

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