my moleskine mods

I’ve been using Moleskine Pocket notebooks for several years now. I ended up become a fan and avid user of these notebooks because, unlike the many types of notebooks or organizers I had used in the past, the Moleskine Pockets fit, well, in my front pants pocket. Other small notebook designs, such as Franklin Covey Compact Day Planners or the original TimeManager I started with in 1986, just didn’t work because I had to carry them (which meant I usually didn’t) or use a bag. Instead, the Moleskine Pocket notebooks fit – with Pen as you’ll see – in my pants front pocket.

A few years ago, it seems Moleskine changed some of the materials and assembly process, leading to pocket notebooks that started to show weaknesses in several areas.

Below are two examples of these weaknesses. The left photo shows how pages started ripping from each other, thereby losing the binding. The right photo shows a separated bottom (closed) edge of the rear cover pocket.

Moleskine-Ripped-At-Binding.Moleskine-Torn-Pocket.

So, I ended up with the following mods to my moleskine to make it ready for use:

  • Taping the pen to the binding
  • Adding reinforcing tape at key weakness points using two different kinds of tape
  • Taping in printed copies of common information I want in all my notebooks

Taping the Pen to the Binding

Although not a new mod, I experimented with a number of pen types before I settled on the following combination: A Pilot Precise V5 pen, with its clip inside the binding and the cap taped to the notebook itself. I used a Pilot Precise V5 pen because the top of its cap is flush with the top of the notebook, allowing it to fit nicely in my pocket with the pen. The pen body snaps firmly to the cap, which makes sure the pen stays in place while the notebook/pen combo is in my pocket.

I use black Hockey Stick Tape (cloth tape) to tape the pen cap in the binding, as well as for reinforcement on other parts of the notebook. I did end up adding a small strip of hockey tape into and over the top edge of the binding; otherwise, the pen clip can rip out the top part of the binding. Here’s a close up of the pen area:

Moleskine-Pen-Taping.

Generally, I add an additional strip of hockey tape along the top half the outside binding to give it further support. Then I tape the cap on using two strips of tape.

Adding more tape for strengthening the weak points

After adding a few more strips of hockey tape to the edges (including the bottom edge of the back cover’s pocket), the end result looks like this:

Moleskine-Taping.

I then add a small strip of the hockey tape on each of the cloth sides of the back cover pocket:

Moleskine-Pocket-Side-Reinforcement.

But that’s not enough. To keep the Moleskine pages from ripping, I add clear packing tape to the inside center at the following pages:

  • Inside the front and back covers
  • Inside the first and last inside cover (blank cardboard) pages and the first / last paper sheets of the notebook repectively
  • Between the 7th and the 8th paper sheets from the front (not including the front inside cardboard page)
  • Between the 7th and the 8th paper sheets from the back (not including the back inside cardboard page)

Here’s the clear (shiny) packing tape tape inside the back cover:

Moleskine-Taped-Binding.

Adding common information in the notebook

I also have a set of two printed pages with common numbers and information I regularly need to refer to (like by passport number). I cut those two pages down so they fit in my moleskine and then tape them into the back cardboard inside (last) page using clear packing tape. Generally, I use a personal (sort of secret) encoding method for any sensitive numbers on the pages I tape in.

My Moleskine notebooks typically last two to three months before they fill up. When I archive them into a box, I use a standard labelmaker (using 1/2” tape) to create a label indicating the year and months of that notebook:

Moleskine-Date-Labeled.

I occasionally
scan or photograph select pages out of my notebooks into Evernote (which supports handwriting recognition so I can search my handwritten notes.) I’d like to be able scan all my pages out of each of my notebooks, but it would take far to long. (And using a LiveScribe pen won’t work because there’s no Moleskine pocket notebook that has the “Dot” paper – the LiveScribe pocket notebook is a lousy substitute – as well as the problem that the LiveScribe pens are too large to tape to the pocket notebooks and stick into my pocket.)

At this point, the Moleskine Pocket notebook remains my primary form/media to write in/on. I also make heavy use of Evernote (including on my iPhone and iPad). I’ve started using Note Taker HD on my iPad as well. Note Taker HD is the most innovative table writing program I’ve seen on the iPad; it works pretty well with the new Wacom Bamboo Stylus for the iPad. However, it’s still not as convenient as just pulling a small notebook out of my pocket – which I’ll always have with me.

I’m still debating with myself if I should buy a few boxes of Moleskine Pocket notebooks to last me for many years. Prior to 2006, I purchased one box of 20+ notebooks (can’t remember the exact count) because the company was pretty small. Now it seems Moleskine is (I hope) here to stay and will keep making these great books for at least the rest of my life.

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