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Moleskine SpA (BIT: MSK) is an Italian company based in Milan. Moleskine production includes notebooks, planners, diaries, sketchbooks, albums and since 2011 also designs other objects connected to reading, travelling and writing, including bags, reading glasses, pens, pencils, cases for digital devices, booklights and reading stands. Moleskine notebooks are typically bound in coated paper cardboard, with an elastic band to hold the notebook closed, a sewn spine that allows it to lie flat when opened, ivory-coloured paper, rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark and an expandable pocket inside the rear cover, packed in a paper banderole.
Notebooks with features similar to the present Moleskine notebooks were popular in Paris during the 19th and 20th centuries, handmade by small French bookbinders who supplied the stationery shops of Paris. In the late 19th to early 20th centuries similar black notebooks were used by Oscar Wilde, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Henri Matisse.
The present Moleskine notebook is fashioned after Bruce Chatwin's descriptions of the notebooks he used in his travels. The name itself, "Moleskine", is a nickname that Chatwin uses in one of his most celebrated writings, The Songlines (1986). In this book, Chatwin tells the story of his original supplier of notebooks, a Paris stationer who in 1986 informed him that the last notebook manufacturer, a small family-run firm in Tours, had discontinued production that year, after the death of the owner. "Le vrai Moleskine n’est plus" ("The real Moleskine is no more") are the words Chatwin puts in the mouth of the owner of the stationery shop in Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie.
In 1997 a small company based in Milan, Modo & Modo SpA, reintroduced this notebook, and establishing the Moleskine trademark and starting production of Moleskine notebooks with 5,000 pieces. In 1999, Modo & Modo SpA started distributing outside Italy. In 2004, Moleskine notebooks arrived in Japan, and from there Moleskine started distribution to the rest of Asia.
In 2006, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune, the company’s small staff was unable to keep up with demand. In August 2006, the French investment fund Société Générale Capital purchased Modo & Modo SpA, and invested in its expansion. The company name changed to Moleskine Srl. According to an article in the German newspaper Financial Times Deutschland in July 2012, Moleskine collections were distributed in 22,000 stores across 95 countries.
In 2011, Moleskine production extended to new categories with the new writing, travelling and reading collections, launched at the Milan Design Week 2011. Most of the objects in these new collections are designed by Italian industrial designer Giulio Iacchetti. They include bags, computer cases, reading glasses, pens and pencils, booklights and reading stands. Moleskine has become a joint-stock company and is therefore now called Moleskine SpA. In March 2013 the company announced that it will go public at the Milan, Italy, stock exchange.
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Moleskine items are designed in Italy. Most of them are printed, assembled and stitched in China. Since 2008, large formats for Volant, Cahiers and Folio hard cover collections have been manufactured in Turkey. Watercolour paper is supplied by a specialist French manufacturer. Since 2012 some production has also taken place in Vietnam. Moleskine SpA claims to invest considerable resources in the research of ever-new potential suppliers, according to criteria of quality, price, logistics and fairness. Details printed on the external label band indicate production details. Each item has a quality control number connected to a specific production lot number. The localization of production in China has been criticized by members of the community of Moleskine users. See Controversy (below).
Moleskine notebooks are made with acid-free paper. Paper for Folio Collection is Forest Stewardship Council certified. According to Moleskine SpA all suppliers are selected after careful screening about quality standards. Labour and environmental fairness criteria are included in specific clauses of all suppliers’ agreements.
Moleskine is a brand supported by worldwide communities of enthusiasts who write, sketch, paint and draw on Moleskine notebooks. These communities often share images of decorated pages through blogs, social networks or photo and video sharing sites. These communities have grown independently from Moleskine srl, even though they are becoming a growing focus of attention for the company, as Business Week reported in May 2007. According to Maria Sebregondi, VP of Brand Equity and Communications at Moleskine srl, Moleskine highly values the opinions of Moleskine users, replies personally to everyone through customer care and is in direct contact with various Moleskine communities.
According to VP of Brand Equity and Communications Maria Sebregondi, Moleskine collections straddle the gap between analogue and digital by giving users a blank space to facilitate creativity online and offline. The company believes that analogue and digital are not mutually exclusive.
Production based in China has generated criticism among some Moleskine users. According to official statements by Moleskine SpA, production is mostly based in China because of quality and tradition in the Chinese paper industry, coupled with the appealing economic cost resulting from the combination of automated and handmade manufacturing.
- "How to Pronounce the Name Moleskine". Moleskine.com.
- Chatwin, Bruce (1988). The Songlines. Penguin. p. 161. ISBN 0-14-009429-6.
- Horowitz, Jason (2004-10-16), "Does a Moleskine notebook tell the truth?", International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Moleskines Mailänder Börsennotiz"., Financial Times Deutschland, 31/07/2012.
- "Moleskine expands into reading and traveling, presents new bags and stationery in Milan". The Independent. Thursday, April 14, 2011.
- "About us". Moleskine.com
- "Moleskine Quality" Moleskine.com
- Walters, Helen (May 11, 2007). "Moleskine Blogs the Little Black Book". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
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- "The power of brands", October 1st 2012.
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- "Moleskine and Milk’s Personalized Photo Books Are Unsurprisingly Sleek" Gizmodo.com, 2 October, 2012.
- Various. "Moleskinerie: Moleskines made in China". Google Groups.
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- "Moleskine Spring 12 Catalogue"
- "State of California Proposition65 Labeling Law". Moleskine.com. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
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