Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Moleskine IPO: What does the future hold now that it's public?

The big news today is that Moleskine has gone public (and is trading well in its first day) (**Updated: unfortunately it closed low today).  I've read several articles about it and am noticing some patterns:

As a planner-and-notebook person, I'm amused by the clips of Moleskine history and descriptions, many inaccurate and ranging from nicer than they are (describing them as leather-bound, for example, which they are not) to not so flattering (describing them as covered with coated cardboard, which doesn't sound very nice at all).

Most of the articles mention Italy's economy and that it's something of a surprise that Moleskine, an Italian company, has been so successful. Some notebook users would agree, but for reasons separate from the state of Italy's economy and more based on the actual quality (as opposed to the perceived value) of the notebooks themselves.

Moleskine has increased its product line year after year to include every size and format of notebook you can possibly think of including storyboard, music, sketchbooks, plain, lined, quadruled, tiny to huge. Their planner lineup increases every year as well, with 2014's selection bigger than ever with the new Turntable 18 month planner, the Professionals Dashboard weekly planner, and the expansion of the color planners into the Pocket size. Then there are the bags, pens, reading glasses, on and on.

Which brings me to the question: what will happen with all this expansion? Will Moleskine's bubble burst? Or will going public allow Moleskine to reach new new heights and expand into even more product (and even service) lines?

What do you think?

12 comments:

  1. Did you see this post about the paper weight

    http://jusido.com/2013/03/26/weigh-moleskine-paper/

    Steve

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    1. Thanks for that link, Steve, I hadn't seen that before.

      I'll accept that Moleskine paper is probably about 70 gsm, but this article doesn't address the fact there's more to paper quality and performance than its weight. For example I've used Quo Vadis 70 gsm paper that performed better with inks because it was less porous and therefore had less bleed-through.

      Everyone has their own preferences: the super-smoothness of Clairefontaine paper, or the slight texture of Leuchtturm paper. But most fountain pen users will agree Moleskine paper does not perform well with fountain pens. It's notorious for bleed-through.

      I don't use fountain pens, but I've noticed a difference with the pens I use bleeding through more with Moleskine paper than with paper in other planners I use. For example, my Uni-ball Signo bleeds through Moleskine paper but has no problems in my Time Traveler day per page planner or my Plannerisms weekly planner. Similarly it does not bleed through in my Quo Vadis Textagenda, with 64 gsm paper.

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    2. Yes they seem to make a bit of a 'dogs dinner' about calculating the paper weight, trying to allow for the weight of covers and then making common errors when measuring the thickness of the paper.

      I forget how I found the post... as usual I find stuff by the less obvious route!

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  2. So Laurie what should we be looking for if its not gsm

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    1. Papers performance is a tricky thing. It's interaction with the ink is a difficult compromise. To a point it has to absorb some of the ink.. but not all of it otherwise it spreads and looks a mess and soaks through to the other side.

      The opposite is were the ink just sits on the surface but then takes ages to dry and then it's very prone to smudging.

      So it's a combination of the paper performance and the formulation of the ink. Hence if you read any of the 'pen blogs' they will or should state what brand of ink they used with what brand of paper.

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    2. Thanks for this Steve, you are spot on. Porosity/ absorbancy is an issue because it allows the ink to soak through the paper and "bleed through" to the other side. But as Steve noted, too little soaking in results in the ink staying on the surface and smudging.

      Also feathering is an issue, where the edges of the writing feathers in the paper.

      Unfortunately you won't find this information on the label. Weight is often a good indicator of performance as a general guideline, and any paper manufacturer who bothers to make their paper 90 gsm or greater is a good bet to be fountain pen friendly.

      Clairefontaine and Rhodia papers are designed to be FP friendly, but there are loads more. As Steve said, your best bet is to look at pen blogs, they will have lots of information (and pen test photos) of various papers.

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    3. Here's an excellent and recent post from Inkophile showing pen tests on Moleskine paper:

      http://inkophile.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/moleskine-paper-meets-ink-and-it-aint-pretty/

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  3. Thanks Steve, you now know where I'm heading

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  4. Moleskine seems to be doing a lot of things right: They are constantly pushing new products, seem to sell out lots of their dated products every year, market extremely effectively. I see tons and tons of Moleskine notebooks and planners in daily use everywhere. Their basic black books are popular with men and with women; also, there seems to be no definable age of typical user, I see young and older people using them. And the way they are marketing their product to Evernote users is an excellent move.

    I certainly wish Filofax would take a cue from Moleskine's success!

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    1. Josh I completely agree. Paper issues aside, I love Moleskine planners and notebooks. I love that they are constantly coming out with new designs, I love their annual limited edition notebooks, and each year I can't wait to see what new planners they come out with. Their notebooks are well made, lie flat when open (a difficult feature to find and I think a large part of their success) and they are appropriate in any situation. They have something for everyone. I talked about why I keep buying Moleskines in this post: http://www.plannerisms.com/2012/06/why-do-we-keep-buying-moleskines.html

      I'm a little worried now that they are public, they have not only their customers but also their shareholders to make happy. I wonder what that will do to their product selection over the years.

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  5. It is an interesting flotation at a difficult time economically and an interesting time in the face of digital competition. It's a bold move and Moleskine cannot ever be criticised for not being bold and innovative. What the future holds who knows? I think they will apply the brand name ever wider - there is no option for growth otherwise.

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  6. I hope it means more options, but in the past, it seems like when a good, customized product goes public, there are fewer options.

    I sure hope I am wrong!

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