Moleskine (mol-a-skeen’-a) is a popular brand of notebook manufactured by Moleskine Srl, an Italian company. Although the name implies otherwise, the notebook is not bound in moleskin, but in oilcloth-covered cardboard. Other distinct features include an elastic band to hold the notebook closed, a sewn spine that allows it to lie flat when opened, rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark and an expandable pocket inside the rear cover.
The modern Moleskine is fashioned after Bruce Chatwin's descriptions of the notebooks he used and is not a direct descendant of the original Moleskine. Chatwin used similar notebooks constantly throughout his travels, and wrote about them glowingly. His original source of notebooks dried up in 1986, when his Paris stationer informed him that the last moleskine manufacturer, a small family-run firm of Tours, had discontinued production that year after the death of the owner.
Aside from Moleskine, there are now a number of companies that produce notebooks similar to Chatwin's description, including Lama Li Travel Journals, Derwent, and Hand+Book Journals.
Although Moleskine srl claims their notebook has been used by well-known artists and writers, such as Picasso, Matisse, Kurakin and Hemingway, the brand Moleskine was officially registered only in 1996. Francesco Franceschi, head of Modo & Modo's marketing department, was quoted as saying, "It's an exaggeration. It's marketing, not science. It's not the absolute truth."
In 2006, Modo & Modo, the old Italian publisher, began looking to sell the company or partner with someone to help it expand. According to a 2006 article in The Daily Telegraph, the company reports that its small staff was unable to keep up with demand. In August 2006, the French investment fund Société Générale purchased Modo & Modo for 60 million euros.
The Moleskine products are assembled/stitched in Italy, printed in China since 2006. Details printed on the external label band indicate these changes.
The below only refers to the USA: On notebooks released up through 2006, the band read: "Kikkerland Design Inc. 423-427 West 127th Street New York, NY 10027 - www.kikkerland.com." As of 2006-2007, the band now adds the following: "Printed and bound in China" and "Designed and assembled in Italy".
In late 2006, Laura Kellner, a representative of Kikkerland Design, Inc., the U.S. distributor of Moleskine products, confirmed changes to the product label and packaging, elaborating "...the changes that have occurred are the labeling to include Made in China, the [label] band has changed in the last couple of years (color coding the different styles), and the insert story has been updated from time to time with new product information, the newest books now have a quality control number."