Ode to the Humble Bookmark

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A lovely brass bookmark that I rarely, if ever, use. I don’t think it treats the books well, though it looks nice.

I certainly don’t approve of dog eared paged. I don’t hate the people who do this, I just won’t lend them any of my books. I am a bookmark user through and through. If I had nothing to serve as a bookmark, I would rather go without.

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This isn’t a post on the merits of either system though. This is no rant. Instead, it is meant as a query as to what kind of bookmarks you use.

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The kind of stuff I usually use as bookmarks

According to Wikipedia, bookmarks have been in use since medieval times. In those cases they were either a small strip of parchment or cord attached to the folio. The basic idea being that a bookmark was needed that did not ruin the valuable book pages. Various bookmarks developed over time to include ribbons, material strips and any number of things. Paper or cardboard bookmarks became more popular as books became more accessible to the general public.

Again, according to Wikipedia, some of these early bookmarks are quite collectible. Despite my predilection for collecting things–check out my posts (yes, I have written three of them) on the inadvertent collection–I somehow don’t see myself starting a collection of these things. Despite that, I would definitely recommend the following website to learn about the history of bookmarks and to see some fascinating books that showcase collections of bookmarks. I am probably going to order the Japanese one.

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A free bookmark from a Japanese bookstore.

As for me, I tend to use labels and clothing tags as bookmarks. Whenever I buy new clothes, or get something with a tag on it, I keep it. Since I don’t buy too many clothes, they don’t tend to stack up too much. Besides, sometimes I lose them–probably because I dropped them on the bus.

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It’s To Kill a Mockingbird and the newly released sequel–who wouldn’t take this bookmark.

My library is also good enough to provide me with bookmarks. These are often at the circulation desk or included in some colourful display. I am not particularly fond of these because they seem to purposeful. I prefer the make your own bookmark idea rather than, this is an official bookmark idea. I know that sounds crazy, but that is what I do.


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Upon request a Japanese bookstore will wrap your books in a nice, though quite simple, book cover. On the train no one will know what you are reading–your books and secret will remain safe.

I have never bought a bookmark, though I have seen them at the front counter of bookstores. Over the years, my students have often given me bookmarks they have purchased while traveling or as gifts from their countries. I once received a leather bookmark from one of the Scandinavian countries. I wanted to include a picture, and despite a clear memory of seeing it recently, I could not locate it in time for this post. Additionally, I have received some beautiful gold bookmarks from Korea, but I gave them away to friends and family in one of my purges–I wasn’t using them and I thought they would appreciate them more than I would. As a result, I cannot show you any photographs of those either.


When I lived in Japan, the bookstore often included bookmarks when I made a purchase. Publishers even included them in books. In both cases, this is called “omake”( 御負け), or bonus. Since the Japanese publishing industry is still quite lucrative, such bonuses are not hard to understand. In fact, These stores often wrap books in protective covers for you (including low priced paperbacks) and many books come in boxes to preserve them.

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If the only alternative is dog eared pages, I will resort to the following as bookmarks

I also tend to make bookmarks out of things that catch my attention. I have included a photo of possible bookmarks. While I do not often use them, I would rather use these options than crease the corners.

How about you? I would love to hear what you use for bookmarks, as I am sure so would many others.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in Aspirations, books, collecting, Japan, Perfection, reading, recycling, tags and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ode to the Humble Bookmark

  1. RedHeadedBookLover says:

    I never thought that I would enjoy a post about bookmarks so much but I did! This is great! I am not fussy with what book marks I use, however! My husband will only ever use the receipt from his book purchase as his book mark otherwise he won’t use one at all ! I kind of love it though. You wrote an amazing post by the way and I love your blog!

  2. bribikes says:

    Awesome post!
    I was obsessed with paper, scissors and glue when I was a kid, so I would make elaborate bookmarks to give to others. The funny thing is even though I am an avid reader I have never used bookmarks for myself. I think this is due to my personal reading habits. I will often speed read through a book in an afternoon, then if I enjoyed it I will peruse through it later reading over sections that catch my eye. I do read books other ways as well, but none of my book reading habits require a bookmark. And I think I have a type of photographic memory when it comes to books, I can always find where I left off, which is weird because I don’t have an actual photographic memory.

    • Anthony says:

      Thanks so much. I have a friend whose favourite bookmark is the cloth label from her first pair of Guess jeans.
      As far as not using a book mark…I get it. There was a time when I did something similar. I wonder what happened to that person.
      I digress.
      I appreciate you sharing with me. What are you reading these days?

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