Usage Comments on City Notebooks

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I’ve been using City Notebook since January for my business trips to several cities including London, Frankfurt, Paris and New York. I love the concept of combining note-taking, maps and travel planning in one little black book and I’m amazed by the growingly strong supporting from Moleskine City web site. However, I had some difficulties with City Notebooks and I’m sure many of you agree at least some points, so I made sure I travelled enough with the notebooks and here’s the comments for improvement:

   1. Mental burden: City Notebook lacks a full size foldable map which would allow you to quickly locate zones/districts AND street names in one view. I had to flip back and forth from the main map to find out which page contains the more detail street maps, so in order to locate things fast, I needed to have a mental map of where the large-scale pages are, which is not relaxing at all considering all the places I needed to go in a short trip. In the beginning I did plan my trip on map (London and Paris) in very detail, but finally I relied on free maps from the airport which has far more details than City Notebook.

   2. Limited street names on map (Where am I?): I think this is the biggest problem with City Notebook. Just compare the maps with a regular or free map from the airport you’ll notice a big difference. There are not enough street names on the maps! I had this problem many times: if I’m standing on a street corner trying to find out where I am, I would look at the street signs and locate corresponding streets on the map but gee, the area on the map is empty! Yup, try to find the names from the index pages, they are not there if they are not on the maps! So where am I?

   3. No street numbers: This is not a common feature on maps but since City Notebook maps are cut up into many pages, I think the feature is very useful since there is space on large-scale city center pages. For instance, I was staying in New York Holiday Inn Mid-town, which is 440 W 57th Street. The address doesn’t say anything about Avenues and you know New York taxi drivers, they need to know ‘W 57th where?’, 440 was not enough and you couldn’t hear what they mumbled. So if I knew 440 was somewhere between 9th and 10th avenue, then it would be so much easier to tell them right away after flipping though City Notebook.

   4. Unnecessary scale: The scale of the map is printed on every map, since the maps are cut up into many pages, some of the key locations really sit at the margins and the scale really blocked the view of the street maps! The scale can be printed on the maps in less intrusive ways.

Patrick Ng
Read the full critique at Moleskineart.com

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One Response to Usage Comments on City Notebooks

  1. Sophie Brown says:

    I bought one and it fell apart. Now cheerleaders in the store near me want me to promote the whole idea by sharing my favorite “hot spots”. It seems poorly constructed, somehow. I’ve seen display copies in pieces too. If anyone wonders why I sound so bitter…

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