Little Free Libraries and bookplates

Recently, we have received orders for bookplates with text indicating the book is from a “Little Free Library.” What is a Little Free Library? And who started this trend?

LIttleFreeLibrary

Little Free Library in Orlando, FL

I honestly thought this was just a good idea that various individuals were instituting. Then I came across the Little Free Library website, where it is explained that a Little Free Library is “a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.”

According to the website, this idea started in 2009 when “Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading.” Soon, inspired by Andrew Carnegie’s support of 2,509 free public libraries and a mission to promote literacy and a sense of community, a goal was established to build 2510 Little Free Libraries, a goal which was reached in 2012.

LIttleFreeLibraryRobertaReachingBetterI was excited to see an example of just such a library nearby in Orlando, Florida, at one of my favorite restaurants. Dandelion Communitea Cafe, which hosts many events to support a sense of community. Their library, located at the front of the cafe, is a colorful and cheerful box. What a great addition to any neighborhood gathering place!

I urged you to visit the Little Free Library website to read about this fascinating and inspiring concept. Maybe you’ll want to build a library in your community!

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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?

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 jimharrisillustrator.com.

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.'”