How do you put a value on your ideas before they’re fully formed? That’s what a Moleskine notebook asks you to do. The first page of every Moleskine notebook says:
In case of loss, please return to…
As a reward $…
That’s the first feature that put me off Moleskine notebooks. It’s annoying. It represents a certain view of the world – that ideas must have financial value, that strangers can only be relied upon if you’re offering money, and that we’re all operating under the influence of the almighty dollar. Also, I didn’t like the assumption that at some point I was bound to lose my notebook. In contrast, the Leuchtturm1917 takes a more European view. A space for your name and address. Simple and pure. It says, implicitly, don’t lose your notebook. But if you do, the stranger who finds it will return it to you because strangers are sensible and kind and value ideas for their own sake. If you want to offer a reward, you can. This is your notebook.
Turn to the next page and here are all your ideas laid out for you, organised, easy to find, because every Leuchtturm1917 has a contents page. You can survey your ideas, review your plans, find those gingerbread thoughts that in a Moleskine would be lost in the paper forest without a breadcrumb trail. The contents page is the second reason I prefer Leuchturm1917 notebooks to Moleskines.And it’s only possible because of the third feature, and perhaps the most powerful: Page numbers. I made the switch from Moleskine to Leuchtturm1917 several years ago now, and looking back, I don’t know how I ever found anything. Writing a novel isn’t so much about having ideas – anybody can have ideas. It’s about connecting ideas. Knowing exactly where to find a scribbled note you made months before enables connections you wouldn’t otherwise be able to make. With a Moleskine, I had a general feel for where I’d written something, but wasted hours hunting. The Leuchtturm1917 notebooks seem to lend a silent hand in organising my scribblings so I can think freely, while staying organised.
Let’s talk about paper. If you’re a Moleskine user, have you noticed that the paper isn’t as good as it once was? The paper quality is the fourth reason I prefer a Leuchtturm1917.
And you get more of it too! The A5, mid-size Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are 1.5cm wider than the Moleskine equivalent. They also have 249 pages compared to the Moleskine’s 240. They’re both about 21cm tall, so over a whole notebook… that’s over ten thousand square centimetres MORE writing space! (Someone better check my maths, but it does equal a LOT more space.) The two brands are usually around the same price, so a Leuchtturm1917 wins on value even before you take into account the higher quality paper. That’s reason number five.
The wider pages offer not just value, but a better shape of page for writing. It’s only a subtle difference, but those extra fifteen millimetres become thirty when you open out a double page. A lovelier writing expanse is reason six.
My seventh and, for now, final reason is the lines. The lines in a Moleskine are brash and bold. They’re in the way. In a Leuchtturm1917 thought has gone into every detail and the lines are there to guide you, but they don’t shout at you. I often like to use the dotted notebooks instead of the lined, which both brands offer, but again, only one has the light touch.
Shortly after I made the switch to Leuchtturm1917 I put a few thoughts into a video comparing the two brands. It’s long and rambling, but it’s by far the most popular video I’ve ever done and some weeks I get as many messages from notebook fans who’ve watched that video as I do from readers of my books.
One by one I’m converting Moleskine users to Leuchtturm1917.