The Mermaid's Tale

get hooked on reading

How to make a bookplate -- tips and tricks


how to make a bookplate
What is a bookplate? A bookplate is a stamp or printed label placed inside the front cover of the book to denote ownership. The name of the book's owner will normally be handwritten onto the bookplate. If you have ever peeked into a thrift store book to see a label reading "Ex Libris" (Latin, "from the library of"), you have found a bookplate.

Most book lovers (myself included) have a habit of lending out books. The best way to keep track of which ones are yours and which are loaners is with bookplates. Inscribe your name on the book plate and lend away without worry!

Not only that, but should you gift a book to someone, you can easily record the date and occasion on the book plate so they can have a fond memory for years to come.

Commission a bookmark

Back in the day, bookplates used to be designed and printed to order for a specific person. These would be printed from a woodcut or an engraved metal plate, generally monochromatic but occasionally hand-coloured.

Today custom bookplates can be ordered from an artist specializing in printing. Why not support a local print shop by ordering locally?

Make your own bookplate

Alternately, you can make your own bookplate right at home using one of two methods.

Use a rubber stamp

Buy a rubber stamp with a book design or other logo design of your choosing. Then buy a box of tiny letter stamps to spell out "Ex Libris" or whatever you wish to use to denote that this is your book from your personal library. An ink pad filled with archival quality ink will be needed to mark the stamp design into your book. You might also choose to carve your own stamp design.

Create a digital bookmark design

If you are not reasonably skilled at carving, you can design your own bookplate with Adobe Photoshop, or even Paint. This is not necessarily an economical method to create a bookmark as you will have to buy sheets of labels to print off your designs. 2" by 4" Avery labels are considered a standard size for bookplate labels if you create bookplates to print in that size.

Using a bookplate

Once you have created a suitable bookplate, you are all set to start using it. A stamped design can be stamped into all the books in your personal library. If you have chosen the label route, peel labels off the backing to use as needed.

Labels are also better than stamps when acquiring secondhand books with a previous owner's name or bookplate inside the front cover. Simply place your label over any previous labels or names. Regardless of who had owned the book prior to you, it is yours now!

Collecting bookplates

Bookplates can be a fun and interesting part of the acquisition of secondhand books. Where are good places to acquire books? Try thrift stores, library sales, yard sales, books swaps with a local club or group, or (if you enjoy reading a book then passing it along) through sites such as Bookcrossing and Bookmooch. You might even ask older relatives if they have any books with bookplates that you can have.

If you are fortunate enough to find a box of pristine unused bookplates, you might consider swapping bookplates with other collectors. If you can't find a bookplate collector club, start your own!

Your ad here