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Having been completely fascinated in a gift shop in a museum in Vienna by an array of Moleskine Notebooks swiftly followed by being astounded by the price of them, my interest in these notebooks was piqued. I'm a big fan of fancy stationery and really consider it a treat to be bought a gorgeous Paperblanks notebook for my birthday or Christmas. Until that moment in Vienna, Moleskine was not a company I was familiar with but I came home to research their products and what made them so special (and expensive!). Apparently according to the company "The Moleskine notebook is, in fact, the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway" (Moleskine, 2012) - so that is what makes them special....but expensive? Well yes, I've yet to work that bit out.
Anyway, when I returned home I had to make an order up to £20 to receive a £5 discount on the Waterstones site and for the princely sum of £3, they were prepared to send me two Moleskine notebooks (the Volant extra small) - they basically worked out free. They are the size of a small vocabulary book (if you were ever given one in you French lessons) - very narrow and slim, about 13cm in height and 7cm in width. The ones I have are plain black and have rounded edges and ruled pages. On the back cover (of nearly every Moleskine) is a small piece of card which acts as a sort of folder so you could stash receipts or important bits of paper in there.
So with Paperblanks, not only are the covers gorgeous, the paper inside is a delight to write on. I'll admit, £3 for two mini notebooks is barely breaking the bank but some of the larger and more expensive Moleskines are verging on £10 or more for a basic notebook. The covers are a harder cardboard than you would get in a school exercise book. The other thing that struck me was the quality of the binding which is good for keeping your pages together but a nuisance should you ever wish to rip a page out of the book without tugging on the stitches - I suggest you cut the page out instead. The paper quality REALLY disappoints me. Instead of being smooth and a delight to write on, we get something that resembles recycled paper - not quite as bad as a school rough book, but definitely something comparable to the cheaper end of exercise books you used to get from school. At £3 for 2 as I said, there isn't much to complain about, but if the quality of the paper in the small ones is anything to go by, I can't recommend the paper at all. I can see how the folder on the back of the notebook could be useful for the larger Moleskines but honestly it is just too small to hold anything practical and papers tend to fall out easily, or if they are folded they bulk the notebook up far too much.
I was disappointed in the notebooks, mainly the quality of the paper. Moleskine have an array of designs but none of them are as beautiful as Paperblanks and because of this and the quality of the paper in the small notebooks, I haven't sampled any more of the Moleskine range. They are however obviously very popular across the world but for me, I'll stick to my beloved Paperblanks for now. Just 1 star from me I'm afraid.
Extra small notebooks for your pocket.