Ach! I've just realized today, that I've been jabbering on about sketching in a Moleskine notebook this week (relative to my sketching resolution) but neglected to describe these little books for those who don't know about them! Sorry about that.
Moleskines are small, black hard-bound notebooks that measure about 3.5 x 5.5 inches (3/8 inch thick) and feature 80-120 pages (depending on the style of book). They were originally made in Tours, France and used by many famous artists and writers starting in the mid to late 1800s for notes and sketches. Moleskines were made by a small family company in Tours until 1986. After a short lapse, the small books were revived by the Italian firm Modo & Modo.
Actually, Modo & Modo makes many variations of the Moleskine now -- from notebooks and sketchbooks, to larger sized journals, address books, yearly journals, special edition Moleskines with fancy bindings and more. This is great, because just about any kind of Moleskine you might want is now available!
I bought my first Moleskine sketchbook at a local Barnes & Noble for $10 (with birthday money), though they can be had online for about $10.75 at Moleskine US and are also available at Moleskine UK starting at about £8.
I love my Moleskine sketchbook, because it's small enough to put in a pocket yet is tough enough to take a beating. The design has very nice touches: rounded corners, an elastic strap to keep the book closed and an integrated gray fabric bookmark. The paper stocks are also very fine, providing a nice surface for writing or sketching.
So, if you need a small, pocketable book for your writing, sketches or ideas (or whatever else) I can highly recommend a Moleskine. In my mind, a Moleskine is one of life's simple pleasures. Think of them as a nice little gift to yourself. They're so cheap (around $10) and yet offer you a nice place to capture your thoughts or imagination wherever you are!
Update 2004-01-20: Just got a nice note from Armand Frasco at the Moleskinerie, his weblog for Moleskine fanatics! Man, the Internet is a great place. :-)
Hey, have a great weekend!