How to host a baby book shower

BabyInvite

The invitation mimicked a library checkout card

 

My son and his wife are expecting a baby girl next month and one of my daughter-in-law’s closest friends, Katie, hosted a baby shower for her. I was pleased when the invitation arrived and I saw that it was a “book shower.” Every guest was asked to bring a children’s book in lieu of a card. Of course, I thought a natural Babyinviteaddition would be bookplates! When I contacted Katie, it turned out she had just looked at Bookplate Ink’s bookplates on Etsy! Since the shower was for my future granddaughter, I created a new bookplate for the shower. A version of this bookplate is now available on Bookplate Ink’s website.

GreenEggsandHamBookplate Ink has printed bookplates for customers’ baby showers, but I had never been to a book shower. I was very impressed with the way Katie put the shower together and thought it would be fun and helpful to share her ideas.

Everything about the shower was related to books. Classic children’s books were displayed around Katie’s dining room, all related to one of the food dishes she had prepared. For example, Dr. Seuss’ famous Green Eggs and Ham was paired with muffin-size egg soufflés. Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales sat by a tray of cheeses, and If You Give a Moose a Muffin was displayed next to a tray of almond muffins. MooseMuffins

In the kitchen, there were a variety drinksof beverages, including Pinkalicious spa water and Bear’s sangria, both based on children’s books. For coffee, Katie had white mugs on which fun literary messages had been printed with a Sharpie marker.

In another room, KMugsatie had a desk set up with a wonderful, creative guest book. The pages were removable to allow guests to write a message to the parents, decorate with a variety of stickers, and slip the paper into a plastic sleeve in the book. I put the bookplates here to allow the guests to fill them out before putting them with the books they brought. It would be easier to send baby shower bookplates to your guests along with the invitations, but we didn’t have a chance to coordinate this.

Katie also had a cute game for guests to play, called Children’s Book Scramble. The idea was to figure out which children’s book title was described in the obscure description. For example, the answer for “Locale of the Untamed Creatures” was the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Overall, the shower was a huge success. The guests all seemed to enjoy the book theme and the books were a wonderful conversation piece. The best part is that my future granddaughter already has a wonderful library of books, complete with bookplates that have a loving message from her friends and family.

 

 

 

 

 

Bookplates, schools and peacocks

cathedral

One of the joys of having an online business is having the chance to work with people from all over the world. And when there is some connection between us, it is the icing on the cake.

A few weeks ago, a customer called about having a bookplate printed for a book fair at her son’s school. Marceline explained that at the book fair, there would be a “wish list” table of books needed for the school library and teachers’ classrooms. While purchasing books for their children, parents could also purchase one of the “wish list” books to donate to the school. She further explained that she was looking for bookplates to put in the books to permanently acknowledge the parents and students for their gift to the school. While discussing possible designs, Marceline mentioned that there are peacocks on the school grounds. I suddenly realized that I had visited this school.

Last spring, my husband and I flew to New York City to visit our son. We had a wonderful time riding the subway and being tourists. One of the places we most enjoyed visiting was The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue, which it turns out, is the location of the school Marceline was calling about.

compositeAs we approached the cathedral, I was taken by the garden and Peace Fountain at the side. The Peace Fountain, a magnificent work itself, is surrounded by sculptures created by students at the school. I was astonished by the skill and effort put into these creations and spent quite a while looking at them.

peacockMy husband strolled down the lane at the side of the cathedral and came back to report seeing two peacocks wandering about. These peacocks, one of which was white, were friendly and fearless. They seemed quite used to being around people and, at least while we were there, seemed to enjoy showing off. According to an article in the NY Times, the cathedral grounds has been home to peacocks since the 1980s, when the Bronx Zoo donated some chicks. And the peacocks are named after various deans at the school and cathedral.peacockwhite

Marceline, who is the Co-President of the Parents Association at The Cathedral School, ultimately chose Bookplate Ink’s design B211 because of the animals in the elaborate border, citing the animals in the many sculptures on the church and school grounds. B211 is one of two troll designs drawn by John Huchthausen, an artist trained in architecture and religious art who created many designs for Antioch Bookplate Company in the early 1940s.

As you can see, I removed the troll from the middle of the design, added the logo for the school and the necessary text, and enlarged the design just a little. The students’ names will be handwritten on the bookplate, along with their graduating class year. The printed bookplates are now at the school and the book fair is starting. Marceline reported that everyone is pleased with the bookplates, and I am pleased to be a part of this wonderful event supporting reading and education.Bookplatecomposite

Creative author bookplates

We have had the privilege of printing many wonderful designs with custom artwork over the years, many for well-known authors. We always protect the privacy of our customers and don’t publicize bookplates without permission. Lately, though, we’ve printed several beautiful designs to use for booksignings whose owners have been happy to share. In fact, they are all available on the authors’ websites as a giveaway. We have posted all of these on our Facebook page, but wanted our blog readers who don’t use Facebook to have access. If you do use Facebook, please consider “liking” our page so that you get updates. We will also be offering specials through the Facebook page.

Emily Giffin’s general bookplate

One of our well-known and loyal customers is Emily Giffin, author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, and her latest book, Where We Belong. We have printed bookplates for Giffin that are for her books in general, and ones that are specific to each book. She will sign bookplates upon request through her website.

Where We Belong bookplate

According to her site, Giffin has been dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller….Her five novels, all filled with her endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with five million copies in print worldwide. In addition, three of her novels have been optioned for the big screen, and Something Borrowed has been fast-tracked for an early 2010 shoot by the production companies of Hilary Swank and Edward Burns.”

J&P Voelkel write a really interesting adventure series called Jaguar Stones, based on historical facts about Mayan culture, appropriate for young readers. Books in this series include Book One: Middleworld, Book Two: The End of the World Club, and Book Three: The River of No Return. They recently ordered their second bookplate design from us, with the Mayan theme evident in their artwork.
I found the biographical information on their website to be really interesting:

J&P Voelkel bookplate

Jon Voelkel grew up in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. He was not a natural-born adventurer and found life in the jungle difficult, to say the least. Having survived monkey stew, an attack by giant rats, and a plane crash in the middle of the rainforest, he escaped to college in Minneapolis and went on to business school in Barcelona. After working in advertising agencies in Spain, Holland and England, he started his own agency in London with four other partners – one of whom would be his future wife. In 2001, the London Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain.

While Jon was battling the daily perils of the jungle, Pamela was growing up in a sedate seaside town in northwest England and dreaming of adventure. As soon as she graduated, she escaped to London to take any job with “writer” in the title. After stints reviewing books, writing catalogs and penning speech bubbles for photo-romances, she became an advertising copywriter and award-winning Creative Director.

In 2001, J&P moved from London to rural Vermont, and began work on ‘Middleworld’. In an interesting male/female collaboration, Jon focuses on the action scenes (much of it based on his own childhood memories and the bedtime stories he tells their three children), while Pamela enjoys thinking about the characters and deciding how they feel about things.

When they’re not writing and illustrating their books or visiting schools, the Voelkels are usually traveling in Central America, attending Maya conferences, and studying Maya glyphs.

Maryanne O’Hara’s bookplate

Writer Maryanne O’Hara’s debut novel, Cascade, has just been published, to very positive reviews, including this one by Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Lake of Dreams: 

“I stayed up very late into the night to finish Cascade, captivated by Dez Hart, a woman torn between competing loyalties: her marriage and her freedom, her sense of responsibility and her desire to live an artist’s fiercely disciplined and passionate life. Past and place come alive in this book; these characters are richly drawn and complexly human. Compelling and fascinating, the story unfolds in such unexpected ways, and with such gathering tension, that I couldn’t stop until I’d read the final, beautifully written, line.”

According to O’Hara, her brother, Michael Bavaro, designed her bookplate to look like a postcard since this is an important element in Cascade. These were printed on a slightly heavier white paper stock, which gives it a nice feel and texture. More information is available on her website.

Meagan Spooner’s bookplate

Author Meagan Spooner’s young adult fantasy novel, Skylark, the first in a trilogy, has also just been published. Skylark has already been selected to be featured as a Young Adult Buzz Book at BEA 2012. According to New York Times bestselling author Carrie Jones, “Skylark‘s rich narrative and plucky heroine will transport you into a mesmerizing and horrifying world.” Spooner also co-authored with Amie Kaufman the young adult science fiction romance These Broken Stars. Read more about her bookplates and work on her site 

Mary Engelbreit bookplates

It all started with the bookplate shown here.

Mary Engelbreit bookplate

This bookplate, with artwork by renowned illustrator Mary Engelbreit, was printed by the Antioch Company in the 1990s. As the Antioch Company has now closed, this bookplate has been out of print for many years. Recently, we received an e-mail from a potential customer asking us to print these once again. I contacted Mary Engelbreit Studios and was pleased to learn that they often receive requests for bookplates with their artwork and had just received yet another. And, thus, a wonderful new relationship was formed.

Bookplate Ink will soon offer a gallery of designs by Mary Engelbreit. Some of these will be designs previously printed by the Antioch Company, but others will be new bookplates. We will offer these in both personalized and non-personalized formats. Spark a love of reading in a child you know with a bookplate specially printed with his or her name. Or order a set with no name added for a lower priced option. Many children and adults prefer to enter their own name and, thus, personalize their bookplates themselves. As we launch this new gallery of Mary Engelbreit artwork, we will also begin to offer all of our non-personalized bookplates in smaller quantities of 20 bookplates for a truly affordable gift. Order ahead for birthdays, Christmas stocking stuffers or a special gift for grandchildren!

Please check the Bookplate Ink website and this blog for the launching of this exciting new line of bookplates.

Too many choices?

I read a marketing book recently that discussed the idea that when it comes to making a purchasing decision, too many choices can be so overwhelming that a potential customer won’t make any choice.

I found a New York Times article that discusses the same phenomenon. In “Too Many Choices: A Problem That Can Paralyze,” Alina Tugend states, “Although it has long been the common wisdom in our country that there is no such thing as too many choices, as psychologists and economists study the issue, they are concluding that an overload of options may actually paralyze people or push them into decisions that are against their own best interest.”

Tugend goes on to discuss a study in California where customers were given samples of Wilkin & Sons jam. When given a greater assortment of jams to sample, more people were enticed to try some, but less actually made a purchase. Similarly, in choosing a 401(k) retirement plan, “studies have shown that if more fund options are offered, fewer people participate. And the highest participation rates are among those employees who are automatically enrolled in their company’s 401(k)’s unless they actively choose not to.”

What does this have to do with bookplates?? Bookplate Ink offers over 150 choices of bookplate designs, more than any other company we have found. We have ships, tomatoes, a rhinoceros, fairies, owls, flowers, musical instruments, a frog, boys, girls, maps, oh! and books. Perhaps the choices are overwhelming for our customers. This is a concern.

On the other hand, there is sometimes a design that doesn’t sell very well, but is perfect for one customer. Like the mustang horse, which was a wonderful bookplate for an elementary school whose mascot is a mustang. Or the now out-of-print Kermit the Frog bookplate for that Sesame Street lover. How about the biplane design for books donated from an aviation lover’s library?

Everytime I think we should take some designs off our website, one of these orders comes in. And the truth is, we have designs in our archives that aren’t even on the website. What’s your opinion? Is more better or is less easier? Should we streamline our offerings?

Around the world in one paragraph

Despite a rise in the popularity of Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers, Bookplate Ink has had a good year. From my vantage point, many people still prefer reading physical books to digital ones, and many people enjoy personalizing their library with bookplates.

As in previous years, the holiday season was a busy time for us. I noticed that many of our holiday gift orders were going overseas. We are shipping bookplates to a wider and wider audience around the world. This year, outside of the U.S., our largest number of orders was from Australia. Which, of course, gives me the impression that Aussies are book lovers! Canada was second, followed closely by the United Kingdom. Other European countries included France, Spain and Belgium. Colder countries in Europe with bookplate customers are Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. Of course, customers in warmer climates around the world ordered bookplates also: Malasia, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Singapore, Thailand, and Mexico and Brazil. Countries we shipped to for the first time this year include Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Other than filling out customs forms, I enjoy shipping overseas. I like to picture the setting in the country where the bookplates are going. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s fun to imagine people around the world opening much anticipated presents and finding a box of bookplates printed with their name. And I often receive post-holiday e-mails telling me how much recipients love their bookplates!

To all our customers and bookplate lovers, Happy New Year! May 2012 be a joyous and prosperous year for you.

Bookplates and real books for Christmas

This time of year is very busy at Bookplate Ink. We receive many, many orders for bookplates to be given as Christmas gifts. Amidst all the Christmas craziness, many customers take the time to write wonderful e-mails and comments in their orders. I’m convinced that bookplate owners are some of the sweetest people in the world.

Recently a customer named Auban placed an order for two sets of bookplates to be given as gifts at Christmas. In the comment section of the order form, she wrote, “For my mother and my daughter. My mom just found a book with a bookplate in it from her father, who passed away when she was 5. It meant so much to her. I wanted to allow her to share that with my girls.”

This is the type of comment that makes everything else worthwhile. When I picture Auban’s mother finding that bookplate from a father she lost at such a young age, it brings tears to my eyes.

I wrote to Auban that when I started printing bookplates, I had no idea that they would mean so much to so many people. Auban wrote back: “My younger sister passed away last year and I have found books of hers with the bookplates we got for Christmas one year. It has been such a tangible connection to family members we’ve lost recently and long ago.” More tears.

I know many Kindles and Nooks will be given as Christmas presents this year. But nothing beats the beauty and intimacy of a physical book (especially with a bookplate inside!) as a present. I was very encouraged to read an article in the New York Times this past Sunday saying that publishers are adding high quality and decorative touches to book covers and endpapers to encourage the pleasure of owning physical books as opposed to e-books. As I know from this business, there are still plenty of people reading and enjoying real books in their personal library.