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.

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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.'”