Corporate anthropologists who observe consumer behavior watch out for “workarounds” — solutions that people rig up to overcome shortcomings in the design of a product. These are typically one-off designs that are sometimes ingeniously clever and sometimes humorously strange and barely workable.
In coming up with a Moleskine cover for an Amazon Kindle e-book, Moleskine admits it eavesdropped online when bloggers posted workaround suggestions or wrote wistfully of the satisfaction they got when jotting notes on paper.
“The very idea of this new cover came from ‘notebook hackers,’ who create their own custom-made accessories weaving together paper pages and digital tools,” Moleskine says on its website. “Throughout the web, hundreds of communities and discussions can be found where such Moleskine ‘hackers’ publish their own invention.”
Some hackers were writing that they contrived two pocket-size Moleskines to make an iPod cover. Others did the same to wrap their iPhone. Moleskine didn’t jump at these ideas, but did see the logic in developing an analog-digital hybrid Moleskine cover, with elastic bands to hold an e-book on one side and a slit pocket to hold a reporter-style notebook on the other. It would satisfy the human urge to scribble notes, sketch pictures and doodle, especially among designers and writers. Those are experiences best enjoyed tactilely, which makes this e-book/notebook combo the best of two worlds.