It was to be expected. On Moleskinerie there was a post that highlighted that the latest Moleskines are “Made in China”. The response from the Moleskine fan community has been overwhelming: we want the old books back.
China is responsible for a large number of the consumer products that we use today. However, there is an expectation that Moleskines were better than a mass-produced throwaway consumable. I imagine we all had images of a workshop filled with dedicated craftsmen, carefully hand-binding each notebook with absolute focus and attention to detail.
Sorry folks: these books have always been mass-produced. What is irksome even to me is that Modo e Modo (or their new French corporate masters) is no longer making a pretense of selling a quality journal that is unique and worth posessing. An item that sets the owner apart as someone who takes their notes, sketches and writings seriously, as thoughts worth dedicating to a medium that will last beyond them.
It’s all about brand. And the Moleskine notebooks are the icon of the social networking brand growth vision held by so many companies today. The core, dedicated following evangelizes the product, drawing more people to try the product and love it. As with so many things, will popularity denude and degrade the product?
If it is true that the latest production runs of Moleskines are originating in China and are of a lower quality than the community has come to expect, nay, demand, of this fine piece of crafting, then the no longer have the cachet, and are no longer unique, and will die the death of a million blog posts.
I am voting for the Rite in the Rain notebooks to be the next iconoclastic notebook. The unique yellow covers and indestructible paper have made me think twice about this addiction to Moleskines. They are books designed to be noticed (try finding a black notebook in the woods after it’s fallen out of your pack!), and stand out in a coffee shop, especially one filled with darkly dressed artist types.
Moleskine, I am willing to give you a chance. The community wants to hear your answer.
Oh, and Rite in the Rain notebooks are made in Tacoma, WA!