Altering designs

Bookplate Ink’s website encourages people to call or write if they don’t see exactly what they want in our pages of designs. When possible, we are happy to make changes to a design to fit the needs (or even whimsy!) of a customer.


Design N100

Author William Landay recently made such a request. Like many other authors, he wanted bookplates with room for him to autograph them for readers. Oftentimes, authors use one of our border designs, such as N100, shown here. This elegant yet bold border, printed on cream colored paper, leaves plenty of room for a comment and signature. We have a non-personalized version of this design, but can also print an author’s name, the title of their book, or even include a logo with our personalized version.

Landay image

Modified A124 design

But Landay requested changes to our design A124 to fit his needs. A124 is one of our designs with artwork by renowned artist Rockwell Kent, originally printed in the 1950s by the Antioch Bookplate Company. After many requests, we brought this bookplate back into print several years ago. For Landay, we made the artwork much smaller so that he would have room to sign his name and make comments. He requested “With compliments of the author” and his name be printed on the plate.

Another design that has been altered for customers is B217. Introduced by Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1960s, this design was created by Tom Eaglin, using the inspirational quote attributed to Quaker leader William Penn. We have printed this design without the “ex libris” text, which is Latin for “from the library of,” and without any text at all. With text that is vastly different from the original Penn quote, author Jeaniene Frost has used this design to create a bookplate that suits her style and books.

Jeaniene Frost version of B217


Design B217


In Memoriam medical bookplates

Bookplate Ink's design D62

One of the popular uses of bookplates throughout the years has been to designate a book as being donated to a library, school, church, synagogue, university, or other organization, in memory of a loved one.  We received just such an order from the sister and brother-in-law of Dr. Robert Leffert, a physician who made a significant contribution to orthopeadic medicine. An article I found online in the Harvard University Gazette states that Dr. Leffert “became a major force in Rehabilitation Medicine and also in the management of upper extremity disorders” while at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was “adored by his patients and his students.”


The design Dr. Leffert’s sister and brother-in-law wanted to use was Bookplate Ink’s D62, which shows two surgeons at work. This design was created by woodcut artist Harry Roth, who escaped from Germany just prior to World War II. The Antioch Bookplate Company began offering it in the 1940s. Harry Roth created two other bookplates for Antioch that weren’t quite as popular, D-9 and D-10. He seemed to have a penchant for medicine.


The D62 design that we usually print has the text “ex libris” included, which means “from the library of.” Dr. Leffert’s sister and brother-in-law asked that this text be changed to “In Memoriam” for this order. As a side note, I appreciate when customers call with questions about changes that can be made to our designs. Even though this can be time-consuming, I’d rather have people ask. We aren’t able to show all the options that are possible with our bookplate designs, and we specialize in personalization.

Dr. Leffert's bookplates

After the bookplates were shipped, I received a very sweet note from Dr. Leffert’s sister:

I’m writing to thank you for the help and beautiful work on the surgeon’s bookplate in memory of my brother, who was a wonderful surgeon.

We’ve begun pasting these into his books (a very simple job), which will become part of a library for doctors from Partners in Health, who bring their expertise to Haiti.

I think my brother would have loved these plates – and they have made me smile!

We don’t have bookplate designs that are strictly for “In Memoriam” bookplates. Most of our customers find artwork that is appropriate for their use, whether it be a border design or something more elaborate, and request the text of their choosing. This gives the customer more flexibility and more customization.

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.

Friends with bookplates from long ago

I started this blog with an entry stating that very often, people I meet don’t know what bookplates are. And this is true. However, my friends have also popped up with Antioch bookplates they have used, sometimes for years.

When we first launched our Facebook page, a friend of mine from high school (many moons ago) posted this photo on our page of a book of his from years ago, with design B213 inside.  This bookplate, by famous calligrapher Raymond DaBoll, was introduced by the Antioch Company in the mid 1960s, just a decade before we were in high school, and has been a bestseller ever since. This bookplate would have been printed by the Antioch Company when they were still printing non-personalized bookplates to be available in retail stores. We print a personalized and non-personalized version of this design.

A neighbor, after hearing about Bookplate Ink, looked through his library of books that had belonged to his grandmother. In the classic “Good Housekeeping” cookbook, her favorite which he says she used every day, he found an old Antioch bookplate which we are still printing as design M777. This design was introduced by the Antioch Company in the 1950s. As an early Christmas present, this week I gave him a box of bookplates with this same design, but personalized with his name. The look on his face when he opened the box was priceless to me. He was so happy to have this connection to his grandmother.

And then there’s me. When I was thirteen, my mother gave me a box of non-personalized bookplates, design B208, for Christmas. One of our most popular designs, this adaptation of German Romanticist painter/poet Carl Spitzweg’s famous satirical painting “The Bookworm” was originally published by the Etchcraft Company. It was introduced by the Antioch Bookplate Company in the 1950s. When I moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, and started working with bookplates in 1990, I was amazed to see this design and realize I had come full circle.

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all our readers and customers!

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.

A Cornucopia of Links

Through Google Analytics, I can see which websites “referred” people to Or, in other words, it shows which websites include a link that someone clicked to access our site.  Yesterday, I decided to look at as many of these sites as I could. What an interesting and wonderful collection of websites! Here is a short description of several of them:

• Did you know there is a website devoted to getting your Ph.D. in American History online? They have a great page of “100 Tips and Tools for Managing Your Personal Library,” with helpful ideas for any book lover of any genre. And tip #100 is to check out Bookplate Ink for bookplates!

• Author Nina Sankovitch offers a signed bookplate on her site, Sankovitch spent one year reading one book a day and writing about each book on her site. She also wrote a memoir, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, focusing on her life of reading. Her website is chock full of information about reading.

• On his blog, Steven Gomez, whose pen name is C.S. Gomez, posted an entry about cultivating a personal library. Step number ten is: “Bookplates are essential.”

• The site is full of book recommendations, encouragement for teen readers, and other information. As stated on the site, “Bibliobabe is a blog dedicated to all things reading: book news, awards updates, free book giveaways, teen links and books news, reviews and book journal comments.” Included on the site is a very informative page about bookplates.

• Booksilly is a great website to visit during the holiday season. As stated on the site, “It’s a world of gifts and products for the avid reader, bibliophile, librarian, teacher, bookaholic and anyone else just silly about books!!!” Of course, I was happy to see bookplates right near the top of their offerings.

• One of the more interesting and yet obscure sites I found is The site is in Hungarian, but when translated, it seems to be comprised of lists of artists, Facebook pages, and bookplate suppliers, among other things. Included in the listing is Bookplate Ink.

• Lew Jaffe is a longtime collector of bookplates. On his blog, which is updated every Sunday, he shares information about his purchases, bookplate artists, and bookplate history.

• The Bookplate Society, based in the United Kingdom, is “an international society of collectors, bibliophiles, artists and others dedicated to promoting bookplate study.   Their “purpose is to encourage the production, use, collecting, and study of bookplates.” Their resource page has many helpful links.

• My hometown and home of the bookplate business, Yellow Springs, Ohio, is a wonderful village with an interesting history that is celebrated by its residents. The Yellow Springs Historical Society is instrumental in keeping this history alive.

• One of the sites I was not surprised to see is that of my good friend, artist and cartoonist Jennifer Berman. We have some of her beautiful animal block prints as part of our bookplate gallery, and other products with her artwork are available on her website.

• Evelia, whose artwork can be seen in products at Target, Pier 1, and other major companies, has a gallery of colorful and artistic bookplates at Her entire product line can be seen on her website.

• Likewise, artist Amy McGregor-Radin’s bold and unique woodcut art is featured in our bookplate gallery and more is shown on her site.

• And finally, I was happy to see that an article written about bookplates in the Wall Street Journal in 2007 is still available on the internet. After all these years, it is still bringing customers to Bookplate Ink.

Bookplate ideas for children

One of the fun aspects of printing bookplates is discovering the creative ways they are being used.  In particular, I love hearing about wonderful ideas using bookplates to encourage children to read and to love books.

Recently, I received a request for a second order of bookplates that a school used last year for their “Donate-A-Book Program.” This school asks the grandparents of their students to donate a book to the school library in honor of their grandchild. A bookplate is added to each book telling which child is being honored and by whom. According to the school librarian, “The children are excited about having award-winning books dedicated in their honor! Not only do the children feel ownership, they are beginning to understand what it means to honor and to be honored.  In this fast-paced age, it is a wonderful value to plant deep in their hearts.”

Other schools have a birthday book club. On students’ birthdays, a book is donated to the school library in their honor. Often, a simple border design, perhaps with the school logo and room to add the child’s name, is used. Imagine the pride of young students when they see a book in their school library with their name printed as the donor.

Many bookplates are purchased for gifts to newborn babies or even as baby shower gifts. An idea that I love is to have a “book shower,” where guests are asked to give a book for the upcoming baby, with a bookplate included. One customer wrote about the process: “I explain in the invitation for guests to purchase a favorite book to help start the baby’s library (a bookplate is included in each invitation).  I ask guests to personalize the bookplate and adhere it to the gift.  It’s a unique theme for a baby shower and books make a cherished gift.”

Bookplates make great baby gifts from individuals also. Another customer wrote, ” I originally found you online, but this is my third order, and I’ve got more friends having babies soon!! This is my favorite baby gift — a few classic books with labels inside, and the rest in a lovely box. Just perfect.”

I used this same idea recently when a friend had her first child. I bought a couple of children’s books that I love and inserted one of my favorite bookplates with the baby’s name printed on them. I included a box of the same bookplates for use with other books. The bookplate I chose, design JH100, features an illustration from the classic fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, created by artist Jim Harris. This was a recent addition to our gallery that I’m thrilled to offer. Jim is an American illustrator currently living in New Zealand. His books have sold over 3,000,000 copies, including award-winning titles such as Petite Rouge, The Three Little Javelinas, Jack and the Giant, and Ten Little Dinosaurs. Jim also creates art for private collectors and corporate clients, including the Franklin Mint, IBM, Chicago Tribune, and National Geographic Books.  You can see more examples of his work at

Bookplates can create a connection between grandparents and their grandchildren in a personal and lasting way. One grandfather recently wrote, “This is my fourth order of the same bookplate for my four grandchildren. Tyler is the most recent. I started with this design when I was in college and have enjoyed sharing it with my grandchildren.”

And finally, an additional idea for children was brought to my attention by a comment on this blog. A delightful new customer, Susie Champion, explained that she adds a personal message on the bookplates in books she gives her grandchildren: “Just a note to tell you how important your bookplates are to my grandchildren. Every book I give has an Antioch plate inside. I write a personal anticipatory note about the story’s importance, adventure, life lessons, or pure fun and silliness. In simple ‘kid talk,’ I explain why it’s tailored to that particular child. So the books have piled up over almost five years between two families. Both daughter-in-laws have told me how they have been severely reprimanded by four- and two-year-olds at story time because, ‘That (the first page of the story) isn’t the beginning! You have to start reading at the beginning Mom!’ Your bookplates with their personal message, after the title on the cover, are now the beginning for all my grandchildren. Thank you so very much.
P.S. The oldest came home from pre-school and said how sad it was that all the books there were ’empty.’ They did not have ‘our special page.'”