New Departures for Moleskine


On the back wall is an appealing quote that can be paraphrased as, "the best guide you’ll
ever have is the one you’ll write yourself."
This afternoon at Book Expo America (BEA) an annual
conference for publishing industry professionals —  this
year in Washington, D.C. — I’ve stopped by the Kikkerland/Moleskine
booth to get the scoop from company representatives Jeroen
Kuiper and Laura Kellner.

The set-up in the booth is elegant: a

white "Tulip"-style
chairs and a
round table set in an open
layout on a printed
floor covering with a Parisian street map grid detail. Jeroen is
originally from Utrecht in The Netherlands, and I mention the house by
the De Stijl architect there, but neither of us can recall his name at
the time (It is Gerrit Reitveld).

The "Departure" series of DIY city guides is clearly highlighted with a life-size mock
airport schedule listing available destinations: Amsterdam, Barcelona,
Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, Lisboa, London, Los Angeles, Madrid,
Miami, Milano, Montreal, New York, Paris, Praha, Roma, San Francisco,
Washington, D.C., and Wien. The European Arrivals are scheduled for
Fall 2006, while North America follows in Spring 2007. Asia will be the
next category to debut, in 2008.

Prague and Dublin are two cities that might seem slightly out of place
on a list of major European population centers with a truly global
presence, but both are the kind of city that a Moleskine user is
likely to visit. Cheap flights and the growth of the discount airline
industry have sparked a cultural trend of frequent, wide travel within
the broader European region, centered on EU countries due to the common
currency and passport controls. Jeroen sees the emergence of a group of
people who are highly educated and cosmopolitan and crossing borders
regularly as a lifestyle.

On October 15, a selected number of stores will launch the new guides,
with an emphasis on retail locations with current accounts and an
established base of Moleskine buyers. Kikkerland prefers independent
booksellers and travel stores, and The Savvy Traveller in Chicago is an
example of an ideal location. Key stores in major chains are also an
important purchase point for Moleskine products. Online advertising
will let everyone know that the Departures series is available, and
where to find the notebooks in person.

Describing the
notebook to a visitor to the booth, Jeroen focuses on the
rich cultural heritage of Moleskines as well as the quality
construction, not to
mention a central benefit to the user in
that, "It is very simple so it allows people to think for themselves.
It doesn’t impose anything."  Laura shows me the "Japanese Album,"
described as a "fold-out concertina of paper for photos, collages,
sequences." With a continuous sheaf of paper folded like an
accordion,  it seamlessly folds out and begins again in homage to the
Buddhist principle of "Ori Han." The "Storyboard Notebook" is
another popular variation on the classic format, featuring "a sequence of frames
for drawing your mini-stories."


Since we are at a trade show, I inquire about key outlets for North
American distribution. Bookstores are central vendors, as they have
been since the beginning. Fine stationers, gift stores, museum shops,
art supply and college stores — not just in the liberal arts but also
film schools, art school, advertising and graphic design and other
creative fields etc. — are all vital links in the chain as well.

Good design plays a role in the success of the brand, which has grown
organically since its inception. Simply-lettered tabs in the Address
Book are an excellent example of the way that "Moleskine trusts the
user" to determine how best to organize information. Jeroen observes
that companies often try to create something in the blogosphere and
it’s not genuine, as opposed to fan-created communities. He enjoys his
work because the feedback is extremely positive and he likes working
with a product that "radiates positivity." Indeed it does.

Lauren Cerand
writes about art, politics and style in New York.

Related links:

BEA – BookExpo America
Gerrit Reitveld
The Savvy Traveller
Ori Han

Other BookExpo mentions:

The Happy Booker

4 thoughts on “New Departures for Moleskine

  1. Fascinating follow-up to the note you received from Modo & Modo… I’d love to see them include Toronto on the list as well. It would have been something handy to have, I have friends visiting from California who have never been to Toronto, and it would be the perfect item to give them to record their adventures in. And it would have saved me time in pulling together information for them on what to see and do in the city.

    If the folks at Modo & Modo read this, get in touch please, I’d love to send you information on the city for a Moleskine City Guide. Toronto is bidding for the 2015 World Fair, this would be an excellent item for visitors to the city.

    Hopefully we’ll see pictures of a sample guide soon?

  2. While we’re on the subject of Canadian cities, Jim. What about Vancouver?

    Maybe Modo & Modo could have a “Vote for your two favourite cities”….

  3. Heather, great idea! That’s what I get when I write a comment at 2:30 in the morning, missed all the other ideas! It would be perfect for Vancouver and the Winter Olympics in 2010!! And it would give the sportswriters something to do when they aren’t covering an event 🙂 And what a perfect souvenir for visitors to take home!

    Good idea Il Postino… I had mailed a letter today to my favourite contact person at Modo & Modo. I’ll drop an e-mail note to advise I sent a letter and some samples.

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