Fabriano Notebooks

Moleskine notebooks have become accessory du jour in Silicon Valley. And that  notebook homogeneity has become somewhat of a personal peeve, especially considering the sheer number of colorful and better options that are available on the Internet. They are overpriced and frankly, don’t take too kindly to fountain pens. I am starting a #saynotomoleskine meme and every so often will offer my fellow Silicon Valley note-takers with different notebook options. 

Since Moleskine is from Italy and has concocted a legend for itself, I am kicking off with an Italian notebook option — Fabriano EcoQua. They actually do have a real history and the notebooks they make are actually better — much better than Moleskine notebooks — as long as you are not a fountain pen type of person.

Rollerballs, gel-ink pens and mechanical pencils will find the faint dot-grid off white paper (85gsm) of these notebooks quite friendly. Since I don’t bother to even touch ballpoints, so I have no idea how they write on this pretty nice paper. The fountain pen inks however tend to show on the reverse of the page (it is called ghosting.)

However, when I use Japanese fountain pens with very fine-nibs, the ghosting is pretty minimal, but writing is a little scratchy since the paper isn’t coated, something fountain pen people like. I don’t mind, though, I do find the ink takes a little longer to dry — though that might be because I live next to the Pacific coast and air is almost never dry. 

However, the price is pretty good on these book – $5 to $16 depending on the size and kind of notebook you buy and where you buy it from.  I pick up a A5 sized notebooks every so often for $5 from a local art store. They are almost always on sale. (Moleskine A5 notebook almost always costs about $12 at the very least.) There are many cover color choices — which is better than Moleskine black. And that alone is a reason why you should try one! 


  1. Durjoy (Ace) Bhatta (@durjoy) says:

    November 1st, 2013 at 8:15 am Reply

    I really like Muji’s double ring “dot grid” notebooks- no pressure to be perfect, ability to tear sheets, dots that aren’t too constraining (but provide some gentle guidance). And they’re cheap and pretty sleek.


    Brian Lam over at the Wirecutter did some meta-research on cheap pens:
    http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-pen/ and likes the uni-ball Jetstream.


  2. adriennepaulson says:

    October 31st, 2013 at 9:13 am Reply

    I really love the paper in these books too, but do you find that the pages fall out too easily? I find that frustrating…

    1. Om Malik says:

      October 31st, 2013 at 9:19 am Reply

      Yes – that is a challenge, but not enough to worry too much about it. Sometimes it is good to tear sheets out as well.

  3. Colin Mistele says:

    October 29th, 2013 at 8:43 pm Reply

    Do you have any Pen recommendations for us? You always seem to have some interesting ones in your shots.

    1. Om Malik says:

      October 30th, 2013 at 7:47 am Reply


      It all depends on the budget one has — there are a lot of interesting lower priced pens, but the value and quality and class can be found in relatively costlier pens. I have found that between $150-to-$350 buys you a pen that will do many years of hard duty. I have gone through many variations and have finally settled on three — one for letter writing, one for more casual writing and one for special documents. They all vary in prices — $125 to about $600. These days, when I am out reporting I throw an inexpensive Montevista Arista in by bag – it is about $55 and I use plain blue or dark purple cartridges. Nib is fine, but frankly I don’t like the way it feels on my notebooks. It works well on Rhodia dot.pads though. I bought it on a lark when picking up ink from a local store. Again, not something that will survive the winter for me.

  4. vineet thanedar (@vinthanedar) says:

    October 29th, 2013 at 3:35 pm Reply

    I’m a fan of Leuchtturm notebooks. Solid paper quality and they take very well to fountain pens. Moleskin is a piece of sh**.

  5. cheupe21 says:

    October 28th, 2013 at 4:42 pm Reply

    Hmm…I definitely going to give these notebooks a try after reading this.

    1. Om Malik says:

      October 28th, 2013 at 7:02 pm Reply

      Nice and cheap, especially if you don’t care about fountain pens.

  6. Jess (@mibi) says:

    October 28th, 2013 at 6:39 am Reply

    Moleskine never did it for me either. But I do love the Whitelines series… http://whitelines.se/

    1. Jess (@mibi) says:

      October 28th, 2013 at 6:42 am Reply

      And I combine it with the uniball Jetstream, the smoothest pen I’ve used. Makings writing/sketching such a pleasure.

  7. Al Slice says:

    October 27th, 2013 at 3:25 pm Reply

    they look pretty cool, would love to have a couple.

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