You are only as talented as your notebook. Okay, that's a lie, but they certainly help. Consumers can buy paper in pretty much any fancy form these days, from spirals, old school Composition Books, string-laced journals, or the ever popular Moleskine notebooks. These notebooks are popular among the artist community, being sold anywhere from local boutiques to big name stores like Barnes and Noble.

What's the big deal with these colored notebooks? They seem to the notebook world like Coach and Chanel are to fashion: a label, but for good reason. They have been featured in Elle, Marie Claire, and Ciak. SwissMiss made a video of how people pronounce the name (according to their website, there is no right answer because Moleskine is a brand name with undefined national identity). These notebooks not only have style, but they also have tradition. It is the heir to the legendary black notebooks used by such greats as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemmingway, and Vincent van Gogh. Now we get to enjoy them.

Single Moleskine notebook

Unfortunately, with every brand there is the question of price. Most of the smaller notebooks with elastic straps average somewhere around $10 currently, while the others vary and come in packs. On a trip to Barnes and Noble, I recently purchased three of the large ones (in red) for $17 to see what the fuss was about. I was surprised that my money went for something I use frequently. Scribbles of ideas, plot outlines, and even lists of articles to write clogs the pages of my notebook.

Just like there is something about Coach leather that keeps people toting around the colorful bags, there is something about Moleskine notebooks that makes a writer feel more like a writer. That, and a cup of coffee to-go. For a lot of writers, it gives them the power of being anything they want. Some use it for scribbling story ideas, grocery lists, or planning a weekend getaway. The notebooks are also durable. A reviewer from Ohio wrote on Amazon, "Don't let the smooth cover fool you. These little buggers can handle a serious beating. Mine get thrown in my purse, in coat pockets, jammed in my laptop case, tossed around the car, and plenty else without getting damaged."

Moleskine writing

The problem some see in Moleskine notebooks is their plain exterior. Some like fancy covers or leather-bound exteriors. Look no further than Renaissance Art, where they make leather covers to fit your Moleskine notebook. The testimonials are positive, one customer writing, "My biggest fear was that the leather would be stiff and hard to open when the book was inserted. My fears vanished when I opened the package. It is the most supple leather I have ever felt and fits the Moleskine perfectly."

The Moleskine company also sells diaries, planners, folio books, and even wine journals. Their website has all the details.

If you're not sold on the brand, but want a similar notebook, there are other sources. One even promotes local artists. On Etsy, the company Modofly has created notebooks and sketchbooks for the person who wants to look at art every time they reach down to write. They are made-to-order.

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Of course nothing can compare to the back-to-school price of single-subject notebooks, but if you're looking for something new to hold your thoughts and plans, a Moleskine notebook is something to try, even if it's just for a list of what you need for cheesecake.