Giving Away the Old But Still New

At first they laughed. Then they took the notebooks. It solved problems for all of us.

Over a decade ago an online stationery shop I used on occasion went out of business when the owner graduated from school, got a “real” job, and no longer had time to dedicate to the business.

(Note: I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of the shop, nor can I find any old links to it.)

Before the site shut down, though, the owner dumped the last of her inventory at surprisingly good prices. Because of this huge discount, I managed to acquire four large Moleskine notebooks (three lined, one blank) for around the price of one and a half Moleskine notebooks in Japan.

However, because I already had one notebook in use, and another in my notebook queue (oh, like you don’t have one) the four notebooks got stuffed into a drawer. Where they remained, still sealed in plastic, for over a decade.

In fact, if I’m remember the timing correctly, I may have got those four notebooks before we got our youngest daughter.

During yesterday’s office cleaning I pulled the four notebooks out of the drawer and looked them over. They looked to be in good shape with no obvious signs of mold or age. Because they are older Moleskine notebooks, they still have reasonably decent paper compared to more contemporary versions. I thought about keeping them, but then quickly decided to give them away as I no longer use large notebooks. (Instead I use a large number of small notebooks.)

As I have with Field Notes notebooks, I took them to school. With the Field Notes notebooks, I gave limited editions to my fellow foreign staff and left the craft cover versions in the main teachers’ office where they quickly disappeared. With the Moleskines, though, I walked around the English department repeating “free notebooks, really cheap, free notebooks, really cheap, take all you want.”

At first everyone who saw them laughed and then went “really?” I explained how they hadn’t cost me that much and how I’d never use them and wanted to get them into the hands of people who would use them.

I quickly passed out all four to Japanese teachers of various ages and watched as, for the first time in over a decade, the plastic wrap was removed and the notebooks were put to use.

It was oddly satisfying, especially as I now have room for more notebooks which, I realize, kind of defeats the point of giving some away.

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