11 June 2024

Built-in bookmarks

Every now and then one of the books I get from the library has a cloth bookmark stitched into the binding.  To be quite honest, the amenity is superfluous, because I always have a paper bookmark that I can jot down notes and page references on - but I really do like these cloth ones.  They seem to hearken back to an earlier era when books were crafted and stylish rather than mass-produced.  I don't know whether these bookmarks constitute a significant expenditure in the production scheme, but I wish more publishers would incorporate them.

Addendum: a Google search yields many articles about things left behind in books returned to libraries.
John Farrier can probably add some salient comments.  The Oakland Library list is immense.


  1. i’m with you, i like them a lot as items of craft, and whenever they’re present in a book i’m reading, i enjoy using them.

    your guess that they make enough of a dent in manufacturing budget to draw the ire of people with clipboards sounds sensible to me, and matches up with an anecdote:

    i am currently on a re-reading spree of terry pratchett’s discworld books, also trying to patch holes in the series i hadn’t read when i was younger. i am using this opportunity to buy the books in a continuous series. (i have a hard time withstanding the pull of a series of books, published as a cohesive edition.) my choice fell on the discworld collector’s library series of hardcover books. (distinctive design, the entire series en suite, you see how that went. a good price per book was a welcome incentive as well.) the early books i bought (up to jingo) all had a fabric bookmark, but the ones following did not. further inspection showed the early books to be published by gollancz, the scifi/fantasy imprint of the orion publishing group, majority-owned by hachette, but everything past jingo was by doubleday, an imprint of penguin random house. further digging brought up the following chain of events:

    2013: gollancz announces the discworld collectors edition (https://www.gollancz.co.uk/news/2013/10/09/announcing-the-discworld-collectors-library/) – see the second N.B: at the bottom, they are unsure how the series was to continue past jingo, due to a rights issue. transworld, the license holder for the following books, is a penguin random house imprint.

    2016: discworld.com announces that the beloved series will continue past jingo (https://discworld.com/discworld-collectors-library-covers-continue/) – the entire series of discworld books appears on penguin’s website, but only offering a hardback version for entries later than jingo. and that penguin hardback version looks exactly like the gollancz series.

    so, what appears to have happened is that (at least part of) this edition’s design team has been kept on, although the series is spread across two publishing houses. since i guess penguin random house is as capable of furnishing books with fabric bookmarks as any other publisher, and one of the series’ big draws was the low price (10 GBP per book), such extra furnishings were a convenient opportunity to save some money. given that they otherwise made sure to present the series as a cohesive whole…


    1. Oh I'm so jealous! Back when I discovered Discworld I purchased used paperbacks on eBay until I caught up with Sir Terry and then had to buy the hardbacks. Here in the US we rarely had the beautiful Paul Kidby book covers you had in the UK.

  2. My guess isn't that it "significant" expenditure on a unit basis necessarily, But, if you're doing a run of 500,000 books and add even a few cents of cost to each, it adds up to real money quickly.

  3. I worry that the bookmark ribbon will damage the book when I use it to open the book to the page. It is also inconvenient in that the ribbon is near the spine when the page is marked, so I have to slide it out toward the open edge and then lift up / pull up on teh ribbon to open the book. Maybe I am using it incorrectly and opening the book by pulling / lifting on the ribbon? I usually see them on big heavy books. When reading the book, this 'thing' hangs down off the spine - kind of messy and can get in the way?

    "My" ideal bookmark is very often one of those reply cards I find in magazines. Those seem to be the right size - easy to find in the book when re-opening it, stiff enough not to get lost among the pages, just about the right size from paperbacks and up. If i don't have one of those cards handy, I will make a bookmark from some paper, folded to an appropriate thickness, and about 2 inches wide by 4 inches long.


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