02 December 2010

New Piccadilly Notebook

I recently finished off a Moleskine notebook (the brand I've used for years) and I decided to give Piccadilly a try as my new notebook.  I have to say there are some noticeable construction differences between the Moleskine and the Piccadilly, but there is also a huge price difference and that may make up for any slight shortcomings.  I always say every notebook has some features I like and some that I don't.  I have never been able to find all the features I like in a single notebook.  Leuchtturm's table of contents, for example, is a great concept, but it doesn't cover all the pages, so its not "perfect."

The Piccadilly I'm using is basically the same format as the Moleskine we are probably all familiar with.  It is 3.5" x 5.0", hard-sided, and black.  Other sizes are available in multiple formats.  I chose the squared pages because I like the size of the grid and the flexibility of writing notes or charts/diagrams.  The paper is acid free and has an off-white or cream tint to it.  The paper color is very similar to Moleskine.  The elastic strap closure, ribbon bookmark, and back cover pocket are all there.  One of the most noticeable differences between the design of the Piccadilly and the Moleskine is the absence of an "In case of loss..." page in front of the Piccadilly.  The lower back cover has an attractively understated, embossed P logo in laurel wreaths.  The ribbon marker is pure black (as compared to Moleskine's dark purple), and is a thinner silk fabric, where Moleskine's material is a heavy braid.  The page and cover corners of the Piccadilly are rounded, the binding is sewn, and the spine in noticeably more squared than the Moleskine.  The lack of any arch to the Piccadilly's spine is attractive, but may inhibit the ability of it to lie flat when opened.  It seems a little stiffer than the Moleskine now-- we'll see if that changes with use.

My main complaints with the Piccadilly concern the materials used.  I am tempted to say the Piccadilly's materials are "cheaper" than the Moleskine, but I'll hold off for now.  My opinion may change as I get more accustomed to the new feel.  I think the cover material and the paper of the Piccadilly are noticeably rougher and scratchier than the Moleskine.  The paper seems to have a visible grain to it and seems dryer and crinklier.  I have not noticed any bleeding of ink or more show-through than with the Moleskine.  I am devoted to my black Sharpie Pen, so I don't use anything fancy like a fountain pen.  A Sharpie is fairly heavy, though, so I'm confident the paper stands up well to dark ink.  I do think the Piccadilly ribbon is of disappointing quality.  It seems papery compared to the, loose, limp, heavy feel of the Moleskine's.

All in all, I think I may be a convert to the Piccadilly.  I have some small criticisms of it, as I have for every notebook, but the price is hard-- or apparently impossible-- to beat.  It is listed at $6.95 on Piccadilly's website, but is available at Borders for $3.99 list.  When I checked out, it was on deeper discount for $2.99.  At $10.95 online for Moleskine, I can put up with a slight difference in "feel."  I often say that one shouldn't quibble about Moleskine prices, since even an expensive notebook is still affordable.  That's a big discount, though, unless there is a HUGE difference in quality.  It seems the Piccadilly in only available in bricks-and-mortar Borders stores.  Also be aware it is NOT stocked with the other notebooks.  It is exiled to the sale items, so you'll have to hunt for it.

I will update my review after a few months of wear and tear.  The big question for me is, will this notebook stand up to lots of opening and flattening, tossing into a bag, dripping water (or knowing me scotch), etc.  Please comment if you have experience with these notebooks or particularly if you have different opinions about this product.  I always like to hear different takes on notebooks and accessories!

29 November 2010

What's in My Moleskine?

I use my Moleskine almost exclusively for organizational purposes, and I use the "Getting Things Done" system to keep myself organized.  I am not a creative user who journals or sketches.  I have many different lists in my notebook at any given time, but GTD has first dibs on any notebook I use.

The first twenty pages of my Moleskine are always reserved for GTD.  I break them out as follows:  1 - 2 are "Maybe" pages for ideas that might become projects, 3 - 4 are "Professional Project" pages to list projects at my job, 5 - 6 are "Personal Project" pages to list projects at home, 7 - 8 are "Delegated" pages to remind me of what I'm waiting on, and 9 - 20 are "Next Action" pages to list tasks I need to complete.

I will fill up twelve Next Action pages just as I am completing the rest of my notebook, so its just right for me.  I use the ribbon marker to mark the next blank page in my notebook and a Post-it flag to mark the current next actions page.  That is a page I like to jump to quickly.  There is nothing more satisfying than lots of crossed out Next Actions! :)

In addition to reserving GTD pages, the first things I do to a new notebook are to number the odd pages (easier than numbering all of them), reserve ten pages in the back of the notebook for an index, and then add several lists I know I will use.

I always have lists for:
  • A travel checklist to make sure I have packed everything.
  • Books I want to read.
  • Gift ideas for my wife.
  • Food I want to cook.
  • Restaurants I want to try.
  • Agenda items for my next board meeting.
How do you use your Moleskine?  I love to hear what other people do with their notebooks!

20 November 2010

What's So Great About Moleskines?

I love having a small notebook handy to make lists and plans, and record my thoughts.  Getting these things down on paper, rearranging them, and reworking them helps me maintain some order in everything I care about-- or at least it makes me feel like I'm keeping things in order.

But of course, I could use an inexpensive notebook from the grocery store for that.  I love using a Moleskine because it strikes an excellent balance between being a luxury item and a completely affordable one.  As notebooks go, they are expensive.  Probably exorbitantly so.  But while I can't afford the finest car on the market, bespoke clothes, or a private jet, I can certainly indulge in a very nice notebook.

The superior quality of Moleskine notebooks is obvious when handling one.  The paper is smoother and more supple, it has a creamy color without the glare common in other notebooks, and the construction is more thoughtful, with solid binding, a durable cover, and of course the well-known page marker and back pocket.

You can find a number of opinions online about the best high-end notebook on the market, and I certainly don't dismiss the possibility of others besting the Moleskine.  I even have my own complaints about Moleskine-- they certainly aren't perfect.  But I continue to prefer it to other notebooks I have tried, for a variety of reasons.  I plan to review other notebooks in the future and will compare notebooks in detail at that time.  In the meantime, please send me your thoughts on your favorite notebooks and suggestions for ones I should review.  High on my list are Guildhall and the Rhodia Webbie.

I have become very attached to my Moleskine over the years and have tried a number of alternatives, including fully digital alternatives like iPhone aps.  I have found some notebooks that come close, but none that make me happy enough to switch.  Please visit again and lets explore new notebooks and uses together.