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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, May 18, 2007 8:45 am
The Book as Notepad (and Purse)
Posted by: Keir Graff

Carlos Orellana, one of Booklist‘s two production editors, sent me this great MetaFilter post (“things found written upon books,” by blahblahblah):

We’ve discussed odd bookmarks, but what about the humble inscription? Start with two lovely efforts to collect inscriptions, including the Book Inscription Project and Inscripticateded Dedicated to the One I Love, which tracks inscriptions found at used book stores. Read up on the history of inscriptions at the Library of Scotland’s wonderful Private Life of Books, and discover how inscriptions change the value of books. And pity the poor author, who often has to come up with interesting inscriptions for book tours. Have you seen or written any good inscriptions?

You can lose yourself in these links for a good long while. And if that’s not bad enough, the post leads you to an even better post (“things found in books,” by madamjujujive — if that is her real name):

Librarians and book collectors have many tales about ephemera left in books. While the legend of the bacon bookmark may be among the more pervasive reports of strange finds, a smallpox sample is probably the most bizarre. There are blogs and discussion boards that record other makeshift markers. Some readers prefer designated over spontaneous markers. Mirage Bookmark has an extensive collection of bookmark ephemera, with Bookmark of the Week and Bookmark Collector also offering noteworthy collections.

Hostess pies? Bacon? Smallpox? If those were all I had on hand to mark my place, I think I’d just try to remember the page number.

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