Moleskine Goes Digital: The Story Behind Evernote’s Smart Notebook

Moleskine Goes Digital: The Story Behind Evernote’s Smart Notebook

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work with it as they go, digitize it as they go. The page camera feature embraces that.

WR: You provide some “smart stickers” along with the notebook that people can use to make sure that their digitized notebook pages get automatically tagged inside Evernote. Do you think a lot of people are going to use those?

JH: Tagging is still a relatively new concept for a lot of people. You are either a huge tagger or you don’t tag at all. The smart stickers are a way for people to get started in the world of tagging a Moleskine page. It’s a limited set of stickers, and we thought that if we gave people customization options, so that they can actually change what the stickers mean, then over time we would begin to get more feedback from customers about what they wanted. This is really Phase 1 of smart stickers. If we get some reactions to it we will see how we might evolve it further.

WR: Are you thinking about additional ways to integrate the paper and digital experiences?

JH: This is the first notebook and the first release of the page camera, so yes, we’re already thinking about ways to make it better and improve the experience. What we really want, now, is for customers to experience this and to start talking about it to us and to each other, so that we can begin to weave their requirements into how we evolve the page camera as well as the physical notebook.

A sample page from Evernote's Smart Notebook, showing "smart stickers" (pink arrows)

A sample page from Evernote's Smart Notebook, showing "smart stickers" (pink arrows)

WR: Do you have any favorite examples of stuff that people are doing with their smart notebooks?

JH: We just started shipping, but I have seen some references to writers who are taking notes with their Moleskine notebooks, and then using the page camera to enter that into Evernote, and then associating other content with the digital note. From there, they can start associating notes together and identifying them as part of the research for a book or an article. Or maybe you are using the Web clipper and capturing information about lots of subjects—now you can have your physical notes brought into that same notebook on Evernote.

Another example I saw was a creative collaboration, where somebody was sketching in the Moleskine notebook and using Evernote to get it into a shared notebook, where other people could then view the information and act upon it. That is a really interesting use case. When you think about it, in Web development, and in some of the visual arts, a lot of it is collaboration, but when an idea originates on paper it’s really hard to share it. With the Evernote integration things can be shared nearly instantly.

WR: It seems like the Moleskine partnership is in line with some of the other things Evernote has been doing lately to bridge the gap between the digital world and the real, physical world. I’m thinking about dedicated Evernote apps like Hello, for keeping track of the people you meet, and Food, for storing pictures and information about your restaurant meals. In the long run, do you think Evernote sees itself as a hybrid online-offline company?

JH: This gets back to what we were talking about earlier—how are people most comfortable? How do they want to work? Our tools should embrace that rather than redirect that and say “Sorry, you can’t be creative that way, you have to be creative this way.” If you want to work in a Moleskine notebook and that is where you are most comfortable, we are going to help you do that.

We can look at all sorts of different hybrid environments, because the real world is a hybrid environment. We have a paper life and a digital life and I don’t think we need to draw lines between them. Evernote is a company that can bridge both sides and do it quite well. The reaction [to the Smart Notebook] has been very positive so far, and the team is really jazzed about where we can go from here.

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The Author

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy.

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