It's not just a notebook: It's a LIFESTYLE CHOICE
I first came across Moleskine notebooks in Diesel a while back. I was intrigued, but the fru-fru LifestyleBabble on the wrapping turned me away pretty quickly, in much the same way that Danger's marketing copy makes me never ever ever want to get a hiptop ever ever ever (well, that and the fact that it's got a complete proprietary javur OS). Also, it seemed to be made of leather, and I don't like arbitrary objects being made of leather as though it were some cheap material that carries no social cost.
I recently discovered an entry in Cool Tools about Moleskine notebooks. Following links, I found a lot of snooty self-aggrandizing "contemporary nomadism" nonsense (it's an inanimate blank book, guys, it doesn't "bear witness"), but also a lot of practical analysis of why these things are actually very good.
They are no longer made of leather, it turns out, but rather some sort of rubberized synthetic. The cardboard backing is very sturdy, and the paper is really high-quality stuff (Nice and soft to write on, and it took my leaky pilot pen without complaint, didn't smudge, and dried fast enough that it didn't leave an imprint on the opposite leaf when I closed the book). It's signature-bound, and lays flat very nicely.
In addition to the handy bookmark tassel, and the elastic strap that holds it closed, there is a clever pocket built into the rear cover that is just the right size to hold a few 3"x5" index cards (or whatever receipts, business cards, or tickets you need to stash away).
And on the subject of size, it is exactly the perfect size for the rear pocket of my jeans. I used to keep a cheap Mead "square deal" Marble Memo there, but the cheap gummy perfect-binding always gave out and they made a mess of my pockets. Now I've got a hardcover notebook that I don't need to worry about sitting on.
Their Lomo-esque "buy our products and/or services and become a post-modern artiste" marketing copy is still pretty obnoxious (and seems to cater to the "YOU CAN'T CURL UP IN BED WITH A COMPUTER!!!" crowd), but the damn thing only cost me $11 at my neighborhood independent bookstore and it doesn't contain flesh or proprietary software.
The one thing I regret is that I can't find the little 3x5 accordion file version, as I have a number of situations where I want to keep sets of index cards organized for various purposes.
Almost their entire line comes in two sizes: 9cm by 14cm (a little over 3" by 5"), and the full-size 13cm by 21cm (about 5" by 8"). They make address books, sketchbooks (the paper's thick enough for watercolor, but you only get about half the number of sheets), and grid-ruled books (i guess for lab notebooks).
Best $11 I've spent in months.