Moleskinerie.com recently announced that the site has been acquired by Kikkerland Design, which is the official distributor of Moleskine notebooks in the US and Canada. To those not aware, Moleskine notebooks have gained cult status as the artist’s notebook (the notebooks are marketed as being the preferred notebook of famous writers and illustrators), and is also popular with lifehackers and GTD aficionados as an alternative to electronic PDAs. Moleskinerie, meanwhile, is a top fan blog that frequently features stories, anecdotes, photographs and other articles of interest about the notebook.
Moleskinerie.com was started on January 12, 2004 by Armand Frasco, an award winning photographer and journalist, and has since become a hub of Moleskine users from around the globe. It has been mentioned in the New York Times, Washington Post, Telerama in France, among others. The blog has also been mentioned in at least 2 books, the latest being “Citizen Marketers” by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. The popularity of the site became so time-consuming, Mr. Frasco needed a partner to keep the project alive so he approached Kikkerland Design, the official Moleskine US and Canada distributor.
As the blog grew, site housekeeping and maintenance required more of my personal time. Just responding to readers’ emails and media queries takes almost a whole morning. The rest of the day is spent on site housekeeping and tending to our Flickr and Google groups. As I’ve been saying, it was still fun but it had also become a full time job. I had to ask for donations from visitors to the site and many came forward. It was very touching and I wish the proceeds would cover a year’s maintenance. It came to a point where my personal finances became a factor so I explored the possibility of transferring ownership to Kikkerland Design Inc, the official Moleskine distributor to the U.S. and Canada.
Given that the new owner is the company marketing and distributing the notebooks in North America, Armand has said the tradeoff between the site’s survival and the dreaded “selling off” was carefully considered. However, Kikkerland has committed that it will respect the independence of Moleskinerie, and that “there are no changes in the management and operations.” Still, Moleskinerie stresses the importance of honesty (such as with the disclosure of the new ownership), mutual trust and authenticity, which are foundations of the community that the blog has become.
Perhaps one of the primary motivations of the purchase is for Kikkerland to establish itself as a good online citizen, with its active participation in the blogosphere. This is in stark contrast to some companies that actively shun blogging. One would think this is expected, as bloggers have been helpful in bringing the Moleskine back in fashion.
Kikkerland believes that by making its support of Moleskinerie.com permanent it will encourage and keep a conversation going between the products’ users and the company on issues such as quality control, product development and design trends in general.
Kudos to you for this development, Armand! You know you’re one of the reasons I took an interest in Moleskine notebooks, and very much instrumental in my getting my first ever Moleskine.