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Moleskine Alternative: C.R. Gibson Markings Notebooks 18 July 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, GTD, lifehacks, Moleskine, observations, Productivity.

Like many people who are faced with the need to write things down constantly, I always have at least one (sometimes more) notebooks with me. As a result, I too have discovered the joys of Moleskine notebooks. There are a variety of blogs around which extol the virtues of these wonderful little notebooks (See
Flipping Heck Blog and Anabubula Blog). I agree completely with all the chatter out there about Moleskines, and love them. There is, however, one downside—they are expensive as notebooks go.

Thus, I was thrilled the other day when I was walking through my local Target and noticed a small notebook in the journals section which looked remarkably similar to the Moleskine, but was about $5.00 or $6.00 cheaper. These journals are made by C.R. Gibson Co., and are marketed under the “Markings” label. I decided to take a leap of faith and bought one ($8.99) to give it a try. Somewhat to my surprise, the paper quality is excellent, and writes as smoothly as the Moleskine. They have the elastic band and a pocket in the back—just like the Moleskine.

These notebooks are available in a variety of sizes and come in both black and brown. For their price, they are an outstanding alternative to the traditional Moleskine, if you just can’t justify spending upwards of $15.00 on a notebook.

While I was not able to find any place to order these on the web, I did find a few threads talking about them also being available at Staples and Barnes and Noble, as well as Target.

If you love Moleskines, and happen to see these Markings Notebooks, you should give them a try. Needless to say, I will be going back to Target to pick up a few more.




1. Katy - 19 July 2007

Thanks for the link!

I’ve not heard of the C.R Gibson notebooks before. Do they have a hardback cover like the Moleskine?

C.R. Gibson (@CRGibsonLLC) - 31 October 2012

Katy – We have a large assortment of hardback and soft cover options for our Markings line of journals. Check out our selection online here: https://www.crgibson.com/Stationery-Journals-2100000225

2. lawvol - 19 July 2007

They do have a hard back just like the Moleskine, and they even have the wide elastic band (as opposed to a little cord you see on some). Hope you like them.

3. dimeo - 8 March 2008

The only thing I don’t like about these awesome notebooks (I bought at Wal-mart) is that they bleed through to the other side too easily and ink feathers from my fountain pen. If only the paper was a bit thicker and didn’t feather.

4. Excarnate - 22 March 2008

dimeo, you are talking about Moleskines, right? I have had no trouble with my Markings notebook with my fountain pen, no feathering, no problems writing on the other side of a sheet even after having used black ink on the first side.

5. Ali - 26 July 2008

Agreed on the Markings notebooks, I got the one with the tan/orange plaid-looking cover, and I like that it’s a bit thicker and has a little more style than the Moleskine with all the great benefits of the Moleskine’s function. The cover of the Moleskine is the only thing I don’t like about it, and maybe that it doesn’t have enough pages in it. If you’re looking for cheaper Moleskines in Raleigh I think you can get a better price at Askew-Taylor (on Glenwood Ave. close to the intersection with Hillsborough downtown). When I went to State I used to always buy them there along with all my art supplies. They had them up on the front counter: if you’ve never been in there, the organization is daunting to figure out, so ask someone if you don’t see your notebooks, they’re very nice.

6. Sloganeering.Org » Blog Archive » The Implements - 30 July 2008

[…] for when you’re on the go, I really like the combination of the fake Moleskine and the Fisher Space Pen. There is one thing about the pen though: You will lose it. It will get […]

7. Joan Kastner - 29 August 2008

I’m looking for the Family Record book that C.R. Gibson used to sell.

8. physicaltherapy - 27 September 2008

I loved the think. “create. record. with inspiration” 192 page journals (MJ3-5715: 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″). I have a sneaking suspicion that this concept was sold to Moleskin, Markings (by C.R. Gibson) no longer carries it

I bought the last eight Markings at Target in Northern Cal.

I write in pencil (Pentel Sharplet-2 w/ 0.5 mm; A125 (made in japan). This pentel was made for me and lead works wonderfully!) and I occasionally highlight/encircle the important concepts of yore with a BIC soft feel medium red pen (doesn’t bleed through the pages).

As my MJ3-5715 supply dwindled, I tried in vain to find it. I finally decided to buy the Moleskin Moleskin Pocket Rule Notebook Model 710, which has wider spacings.

It’s all good, while prefer the MJ3-5715, I’ve become accustomed to the Moleskin 710. Invaluable for my thoughts prior and after my trading options. Made $65K the week of 9/15/08; and sold my long calls on 9/19/08. I also missed out (via StreetSmart Pro alert) to buy puts on RIMM RULOT (Mar 100 Puts). Oops sorry for rambling.

(who says journaling can’t help you make a few dollars? 🙂

BTW, in June 2008, I received 20 Moleskins 710s, DIRECTLY from Moleskins. The price came out to $9.00/tablet WITH FREE Shipping!!!! Came out to a straight $180.00, IMO a small price to pay for “collecting one’s thoughts.”

9. Marcina Meekins - 10 November 2008

I am looking for a Markings Spiral Journal the number on back of journal is MGM72-3291 or 8227257472

10. Ryan J-W Smith - 27 November 2008

Yes, the C.R. Gibson version of the classic Moleskin notebook is almost identical. In fact, both are made in China – no doubt by impoverished women and children working double-shifts in near slave-labour conditions. Isn’t ‘Free Trade’ great!?

I love these notebooks, but I refuse to buy another one until I locate someone who makes them in a country with real trade unions – which I guess counts out the USA too these days?

Where’s Gandhi when you need him…

11. lilian - 8 December 2008

i’ve already bought two and i’m going for the third one, my dad gave it to me last christmas i oved it i think i ruined the first one because i didnt knew how to use it but the second one looks awesome and is really helpful im a high school student , i want to be an artist so it really helps when i have great ideas for a new painting or drawing

hope you find it as wonderful as i do
see ya’

a mexican girl

12. Ryan Ross - 9 December 2008

I’ve been using Moleskines for several years and watched the price rise with every blog about them (as we published hack after hack). Then like you, I stumbled across the Markings at Staples and bought two. I didn’t like them because I’m a Moleskine Quad guy and Staples only had lined versions. Then my dream came true when Target started carrying a quad version of the Markings. Fantastic! I’m still exploring (recently with a Piccadilly) but, except for the pure pleasure of tearing off the Moleskine’s shrinkwrap, I think the Marking is a sound buy. I’d love to hear criticism of them because I have been unable to deciphed why such a price difference between to two. I still buy an occassional Moleskine (because I can’t seem to help myself), but my stack of Markings is quickly multiplying.

13. simplyspoken - 4 January 2009

Bought 8.5×11 Markings journals the past few years at Office Depot and loved everything about them: spiral, thick pages, hardcover, lined, wide elastic band, lots of pages. But OD no longer carries them and I can’t find this larger size anywhere! Target only carries the smaller size. Anyone seen the larger version? Nothing else measures up.

14. Mimsy - 14 January 2009

Did anyone have a special message in their notebook? I only came across this message when my binding came loose and in between the pages I see: “Whatever, I wasn’t going to be caught unaware, so I …down by the side of a somewhat overgrown laurel”

My youngest sister gave me one for xmas 2008. I love it! I write in it all the time.

15. Andre Cox - 8 February 2009

Prior to Dec 08, I had never heard of Moleskines, Markings or any other Journal for that matter. But after my last preferred (spiral) pad went out of production I needed something I would enjoy writing in, now most of my friends don’t understand this, (but funnily enough their wives do!!!) Anyway… after having tried the smaller Black & Red, which has nice paper but a horrible form factor, and after spending about an hour looking at various pads and journals I was intrigued by the Markings, I bought various sizes and went home to try them out.

The larger sizes have better paper, but the line separation is greater, which I noticed when I started to use them. I definitely prefer the smaller separation. Then onto to the web for some research, and that’s when I found out about Moleskine! I bought one from Amazon and they are available at the local Barnes and Noble. I’ve only found, these, Markings at Staples or on their website.

I do prefer the 8×5 Markings to the Moleskine.
On the Moleskin the imitation Leather, ‘by any other name’ is Plastic!!! so I prefer the Markings (60% leather) cover. The Moleskines feel slightly better bound, but the Markings are slightly cheaper.
I use Micron 01 pens, they bleed through on the Moleskine more easily on than on the Markings though I can get it to bleed through if i hold it for a few seconds! Therefore I feel the Marking paper is slightly better than the Mokeskine’s. The visual and writing quality is about the same.
I was using the superb Pental Graphgear 1000 sizes 07 and 09, but the Micron is now my writing instrument of choice, it definitely has a finer and more consistent flow than an V5, which bleeds through more easily, especially when correcting or crossing out.

I am using the 8×5 Markings pretty much exclusively now. I bought them, primarily for Maths notes/exercises, but enjoying writing in them, so I now have one at work, always in my pocket (smaller size). The smaller size I generally find too small, but the 8×5 won’t fit in my pocket!

I nip into Staples and purchase as many as I can, before they stop selling them! Of course I will have no problem using Moleskines as an alternative if they do, however, if they do stop making them I will hunt for a leather cover, 8×5 (approx), thin lined, with around 200 pages and with better paper then the Moleskine.

I must admit, having now used these (and the Moleskines I bought) I can see how people start getting a bit particular about their Journals/Writing pads and what they use to write with.

16. Ken - 28 February 2009


The above link will get you to the place where you can order the Markings notebooks on line.

17. steveax - 24 April 2009

The walmarts in my area usually have some of the markings journals but lately have not had the pocket sized ones… try Walmart in your area. or you can now order on the crgibson site as Ken mentioned above, but you will pay shipping of course

18. journalingarts - 16 July 2009

I tested the Markings journal along with the Moleskine and a few others. While the Markings journal is priced lower than most, the paper performed poorly compared to the others except when using a ball point pen. My fountain pen didn’t bleed through by the line skipped and I had trouble getting a consistent line because of a coating on the paper. Additionally, my roll pen and markers feathered and bled through the back of the page.

There is a huge header at the top and a smaller one at the bottom, so but only 1 less line per page than the Moleskine has. I’m not sure if the paper is acid-free or not, the label doesn’t say.

I wouldn’t recommend this journal if you use rollerball, fountain pens or markers or if quality is important to you.

19. Palindromei - 16 February 2010

In November of 2007, I was looking for a journal and having a hard time finding something I liked. Finally I happed to stop by the notebook section of Meijer one day. There I found exactly what I was looking for, it was called “Markings by C.R. Gibson”. I hated the feeling of suede, however that was the only cover it came in and being exactly what I was looking for (never considered the covers texture) I looked passed that (now it doesn’t bother me)
I remember the “package” reading “acid free” but after following ken’s link I see the website doesn’t say it (maybe they changed it?), pity really. Meijer doesn’t seem to carry them any longer and I was going to order a few. I’ll have to check out target for any acid free ones. Other wise I’ll be looking for something else with the same size and around the same amount of pages..

“Ruled Paper Mocha Suede Journal – Small”
That looks like the one I have, though the color is a bit off, mines a little darker

20. John P. Sowle - 26 March 2010

Bought a MJ7A-2o Journal Jan. 09. Less than half way filled and pages are already coming loose. Used up half a roll of scotch tape to keep it together. Like most other things made in China it’s not worth a darn. I’m 79 and am sure i’ll outlive this cheap book.

21. Kristina - 23 June 2010

I just bought a ton of these notebooks in the pocket size clearanced at my local Kroger for $2.50 each. I emailed the company and they said all of their journals have acid free paper. They may not be as good of quality as moleskines but I think they are worth it for the price difference. They were normally $5.79 whereas a Moleskine in the same size can cost anywhere from $8-$12 depending where you buy it.

22. CJ Paris - 1 August 2010

Just ordered a CR. Gibson Markings Debossed Italian Leatherette Journal (brown) and two CR. Gibson Ruled Paper Bonded Leather (bonded meaning it has real leather in it, which can be up to 100%, though a post above says these journals are 60%) Journals (one black, one brown) from amazon. Will come back and comment when I get them, since it seems people (like me, those above, you reading this 😉 ) come across this blog (which is dead) when looking for some info on them.

Also, you may come across CR. Markings Pellaq, which from my googling seems to simply be artificial leather that’s usually textured like alligator skin or something. I’m guessing Pellaq is the brand name of that specific type of fake leather.

23. positionalcarrion - 1 December 2011

Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and wonderful design and style.

24. Bob le Chef - 22 June 2012

Excellent! I love them as well! Paper could be a little thicker, but otherwise, great.

25. Web surprise – the long tail for paper notebook lovers | Polymorph - 22 July 2012
26. working on boats in hawaii - 22 December 2013

Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me.

Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

27. Sadie-Megin Frances - 2 October 2015

Walmart also carries Markings by C.R. Gibson

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