Ask companies like Adobe and Fiftythree, and they’ll tell you that tablets are the future of drawing. Give in, and get used to the concept of touching a stylus to your screen. Because as hardware and software get better, you’ll be able to create the sorts of things you can only dream about creating on paper.
Moleskine—the preeminent journal company with no lack of self-interest in keeping paper alive—has presented the vision of another possible future. Its new Livescribe Notebook ($30) appears to be a typical, tactile Moleksine. Except, when you write on it with a $150 Livescribe smartpen (a pen known for turning written, paper notes into typed, digital transcripts), your doodles and brainstorms are not only automatically backed up to an app, they’re also infused with the conveniences of digital-native technologies.
The pen is programmed with the exact lines, margins, and buttons of the Moleskine paper, so it always knows where the pen is hitting the paper, which opens the possibilities for a gee-whiz user experience. If you’d like to tag a sketch to pull up later, you simply tap onto one of three icons printed at the bottom the page—a star, flag, or tag—much like you might tap an icon in your Gmail inbox. If you’d like to record a verbal note alongside your sketch, there are play, pause, and record icons at the bottom of the page, too. Additionally, two pull-out bookmarks offer some logistical features as well, like letting you update your pen’s Wi-Fi settings (complete with password support), pairing your pen, or scrubbing through your recordings.
Now, a Livescribe pen, coupled with a Livescribe journal, can already pull off a lot of these stunts on their own. The cleverness here is that Moleskine and Livescribe are both thinking beyond their own brands, and designed the book and pen to work in tandem.
Moleskine is a powerful brand that does $100 million in sales a year [PDF], which Livescribe can use to extend its reach. At the same time, more than 90% of Moleskine's revenue is from paper products. Livescribe offers Moleskine an opportunity to stay relevant in the digital age.