Evernote Moleskine: a confused review

I like Evernote. But there’s only so far I think you can really love software. By contrast, my notebook is like a trusty familiar idea-steed. Yes, Idea-steed. From the ceremony of pinging away the elastic to leafing open a page, It even makes me love my favourite pen more as it scratches away on the paper.

But it’s primarily a writing experience to me, not a reading one. The medium is transient and the information I’m recording is as much to make me think in a different, more patient way as it is to get the notes down. Luckily, I’ve never had a panicked moment of desperately searching for an important detail lost in the pages of one of these slick tomes.

The Evernote Moleskine is not really a thing. That is to say, it’s just a themed book, like those manufactured for Star Wars, Peanuts, Lord of the Rings and other famous brands. However, where it differs is in the three months of Evernote subscription that come with it — and the way it opens your eyes to the potential of Evernote.

What it really means is that I can enjoy writing notes but also feel a security to them that means I can find that data in future. As long as I remember to take a photo of the important ones…

Things that struck me about the combination:

Optical Character Recognition — the OCR is good but there’s always a limit to this when there’s no verification system. Each notebook comes with stickers that should let you automatically categorise notes. In practice, I find that if it’s really a feature you want, it’s easier to just write the category name in big clear caps or literally hashtag the page.

Annotation and sharing — Hand drawing a diagram, taking a snap then adding digital labels to share with a group is great. And while apps like Paper make sketching more common on tablets, there’s still sometimes nothing that can replace the tactile feel of scribbling on paper. The sharing features are pretty strong now too – especially if you create a shared folder.

But what’s the actual proposition here?

I’d recommend you look at it like this:

  1. Do you like/ want/ use Evernote Premium?
  2. Do you want a snazzy green-accented Moleskine + 3 months subscription?

Turns out I do – I’m on my second one now and happy to pay for Evernote Premium just to support the service. If you’re not using it, there are definitely worse ways to give it a whirl than this.