Friday, January 12, 2007

The Notebook

On the inside of the my notebook is the pretty normal "In case of loss,please return to..." thing. But underneath that it says "As a reward: $____". I thought it's pretty snooty of a notebook to have that reward thing. Make no mistake, it's a handsome notebook: black, hard cover with an elastic band to keep the notebook closed and a pocket to keep tickets and things in the inside back cover, 240 pages of acid-free paper. I bought it from one of the small bookstores that dot Utrecht's city center (Utrecht has more bookstores than McDonald's and KFC branches combined) for 12 euros. That's not cheap. It costs about the same as a paperback novel (I bought Shalimar the Clown for the same price) which might justify the snootiness, but still... The reason for the snootiness is the mythos the marketing people surrounded it with. It was supposed to be the notebook used by Picasso, Van Gogh, Hemingway, and others as their notebook: Europe's artists and thinkers, the blurb said. At 12 euros, it's not a notebook to use for grocery lists surely and I must admit I gave in to the hype, illusions of writing the next great pornographic masterpiece while sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam playing in my head.

I brought it home to use as a plog (paper log as opposed to web log) wherein my most foolish notions would see the light of day. But being back home in the Philippines, the euros automatically converted to the local currency: 780 pesos. Mother of pearl! In Europe, a 12 euro notebook doesnt seem all that scandalous, but a 780 peso notebook in this, our patently third world country? It's obscene! Surely the inanities I were to write in it arent worth being written in a 780-peso notebook used by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway. Then it dawned on me that this isnt the notebook used by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Hemingway. Those bookbinders in France that made the notebooks closed shop in the mid-80s. This new company, an Italian one supposedly bought the rights to the notebook-- from whom I don't know, from one of the families that made them I suppose--and created the hype around them and sells them at an exorbitant price to, holy crap!, yuppies. Im a yuppie? Ok maybe not. It takes a series of trendy purchases over an extended period of time to earn the appellation, and a minor lapse like this a yuppie does not make. I guess it all started when I bought an iPod 6 months ago and... An iPod!! Woe is me, Im sinking into trend-whoredom. I need rehab!

After the anxiety attack over my utter gullibility passed, I was able to appreciate objectively the marketing genius of the Italian company that makes these notebooks. Like I said theyre handsomely made and obviously of fine quality, but the mythos, the mystique they built around it allows them to charge an even higher price. This got me to thinking: What notebook did Jose Rizal use? I remember one of his notebooks on display at a museum somewhere. If we can find out where he got his notebooks, and if we could strike a deal with the manufacturer's probably impoverished descendants (craftsmen in this country are under-appreciated and dont get paid as much as they ought to be), we could make an exact replica of the Rizal notebooks, whip up the mother of all hypes saying this is the notebook Rizal, Bonifacio, and Mabini used, we could make a killing!

I need to call Ambeth Ocampo.

6 comments:

grifter said...

you'd make a killing. just imagine all the sheep who'll believe anything. you could say you're Brod Pete and they'd still buy those notebooks.

banzai cat said...

Oy. You're talking about the moleskinerie (sp)? It's actually available now at Fully-Booked stores, the price depending on the size. The small reporter's notebook size is worth P500 bucks while the notebook size costs P999. Dunno how much the big is. So you actually got a good deal when you bought yours abroad.

And wouldn't it be funny if Rizal used notebooks that were bound in Binondo (or whatever passed as Binondo at that time)? Heh.

Jego said...

That's right, bc. Moleskine. I bought the big one. If I knew they sold for that much here, I wouldve bought a dozen of them and sold them at a profit. :-D

Kat O+ said...

Until I read your post, I didn't even realise that was on the front page! As a reward: $ Good karma. :-)

There are lots of cheaper Moleskine imitations out there now. And they come in pink!

Jego said...

I won't be able to get myself to buy fake. Cheap, most definitely Id buy. But it has to be an original cheapness. :-D

(And please feel free to steal my Rizal notebook idea. And when you become rich selling those, all I ask for is a lifelong supply.)

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