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The Bookplate Lady Tells About ... Bookplates

Updated on September 13, 2014

How bookplates have saved me.

Bookplates have saved me in recent times. If it weren't for Bookplates, I might be working the streets, or welcoming people at a major budget department store nearby.

Bookplates first saved me in the 1970s, as a single mom, working in a bookstore in Massachusetts, to supplement my retail earnings (meager, but I loved books!) I began personalizing the bookplates we sold on a display next to the counter. $5.00 for a set of 50 gummed labels that sold for $1.69 or so, and I'd calligraphy someone's name on them. Nice Christmas money.

There's more to my story... I thought as thanks to what bookplates have done for me, I would offer here what information I can about bookplates. A mix of what I know, what I find, what I have to offer, what others have to offer, about bookplates.

And thank you for reading!

Making Your Own Bookplates

some thoughts on...

When I first started my on-line business, using Antioch Bookplates, I wanted also to offer people the option of printing their own bookplates.

This turned out to be a little more complicated than I'd thought.

My first idea was to sell already printed and cut bookplates like the ones I use along with instructions on how to print them, using your own computer.

That could sound like a way to put myself out of business, but somehow when you do something like that, it all works out. But this didn't, and I'll tell you why (and later in another area, I'll get to some solutions).

Here are the headaches I came up with:


To sell instructions on how to print, I'd make myself responsible for making sure that I offered instructions on how to print on them on every computer and every printing software my customers used.

Not only that, I would have to be available for problem solving calls, 24/7 when the printer and /or software someone used was not covered in my instructions.

My customers on-line (unlike you all, of course!) seem to be from 60 to 90 (only half kidding), not terribly comfortable with computers and/or following instructions unless said instructions involved a step-by-step walk-me-through living-breathing-person.

You know, I decided to have an on-line business so I didn't have to work 9 to 5 and deal with living breathing people all the time. In retirement, I have my limitations. (At least I know them!)


You might not believe how many bookplates I toss out because of printing errors, or human errors, ink errors, spelling errors, etc. Therefore, if I would have to make sure people knew said errors were not my responsibility.

Experience tells me that would not be an easy sell

Switch to Plan B, Sell Bookplate Art and Paper

Obstacles included:

1) The art had to be mine, public domain or licensed.

2) The paper had to be self-adhesive or I was going to have to come up with some nice glue (which one of my competitors does provide along with bookplates, so.. not impossible).

and the real kicker with bookplates made yourself

3) The cut. I' used to make and sell a small line of tiny bookplates especially for children (shown in photo) but I stopped because of the cutting. Professional printers do it right. Even using a cutting board leaves a lot to be desired.

This is NOT to discourage people from printing their own bookplates at home. There is a lot of nice self-adhesive paper available these days! More on that!

Zazzle Bookplates

a plug for my stuff

In my opinion, the easiest way to make your own bookplates is to do it at Zazzle.

Yes, I'm prejudiced! But I'm also experienced with bookplates. If you are just looking to make some fun bookplates to hand out as gifts, Check out these. You can add your own designs, or pick from an endless choice of bookplates and stickers made by some very talented people.

Using my own designs, I opened a shop where anyone can edit the designs - up to and including taking off my graphics and adding their own (pictures, photos, text, etc.). , then I wrote a little tutorial on how to do that. (Assuming they already know how to create the art or size the photo).

If you push on the picture, it will take you to my little tutorial.

But of course, that means you should also be able to print your own bookplates using Avery or other mailing label type papers. Hmmmmm...well, read on!

The Bookplate Lady is Born

After I became a manager of one of the bookstores (a now defunct franchise called Paperback Booksmith), I stopped with the hand calligraphied bookplates. But when that bookstore closed a few years later, again, Bookplates Saved My Day!

I applied for a job with The Antioch Bookplate Company, as a field rep for the very company that made the bookplates I'd used to supplement my income. They later became The Antioch Publishing Company, then still later, The Antioch Company, the owners of Creative Memories - a hugely popular and successful scrapbooking company.

Lo and behold, I got the job! By now, I lived in Maryland - the job meant traveling through three states. Not an easy job for a single mother. But the pay was lavish, to me. $17,000 a year PLUS gas and mileage PLUS incentives.

This was 1981. Divorcees were common. Not so common were mothers who willingly gave over custody of their children to the fathers, and fathers who willingly took on the job of single dads. Our situation was more complicated than that (and you don't need to know) but essentially, my sons lived elsewhere during the school year and with me in the summer.

That's how I became The Bookplate Lady..

Printing your own bookplates on Mailing Label paper

for inexpensive gifts

Of course this isn't recommended for the "serious" bookplate collector. Serious users expect the paper and ink to be "archival quality", which means it will last for years and years (although there is much debate among book collectors about whether bookplates add or detract from the value of a book.

(I have heard they add if the bookplate belongs to a famous person, detract if not).

However, for little gifts, especially for children who LOVE stickers, printing bookplates on mailing label quality paper should be fine. You can take a step up price ways at least, and look for the self-adhesive labels sold in many places that are of photography quality.

A few tips, and then some links for possible papers to try.


1. There is a LEARNING CURVE with any of this. Some of the papers are NOT cheap, so printing on plain white paper laid out or formatted to test run like the more expensive papers below should run is a wise idea.

That is, follow the instructions given with the papers and on your printer. Download the template from the internet if it isn't already on your printer. And test test test on cheap plain white paper before trying it on your fancy papers!

2. Bear in mind the cost of ink when printing full color designs. Ink is my most costly part of my Bookplate business And I mostly print in black and white! Test run black and white first.

3. Copyright and other design concerns. Don't print someone else's artwork, designs or ideas without permission, even for yourself!

But here - new as of April 2014 - is a link to bookplates I made for free downloading. These are peace symbols. I'm planning on having more....

Free Set of Bookplates

Bookplates Keep Saving My Life!

I was "The Bookplate Lady" -- so called by at least one of my customers in the Maryland to North Carolina territory I covered back in 1981. That was only because they didn't know my name - there was the "Dell rep" (books, not computers), the "Avon rep" (books, not make up) and "The Bookplate Lady." I took it as a compliment.

The picture up on top is of the three of us, in my teeny tiny Honda civic. They were little more than boxes then. The box on top of the box was my "pod" -- it held the returns I took from the bookstores I called on. (there were also bookmarks and other products, but.. it's Bookplates that I care to write about here!) My sons would travel with me. It was a great summer vacation for us all.

A few sales calls during the day, motel rooms at night (paid for up to $40.00 a night, my lodging and food budget for the day). We'd go to movies, swim in the motel pools and generally just have a good time. In this photo, I'm pretty sure we're in the beautiful state of North Carolina. (and if you want to read the dark side of my experiences as a traveling saleswoman in North Carolina, go here - but it's adult content).

Bookplates saved me then. And they'd save me later!

Never have been able to let go of bookplates- I left the company in 2000, a few years before they were sold off, leaving Creative Memories behind. I retired the same year the stocks fell, taking a nice bite in my retirement savings.

Before that happened, I started my own little on-line business. Mostly to offer Quaker books (did I mention I'm a Quaker?) since back in those days, there were not a lot of places I could find the ones I wanted. I started adding a few bookplates, just for fun, after figuring a way to personalize small orders. There was another small business in town selling larger orders - I thought there might be a small niche market for teeny orders.

Just for fun, mind you. But because of the damage to my retirement income, once again, bookplates saved me. I am not getting rich, mind you. But bookplates have been very very good to me.

Of course, I want everyone to buy bookplates from me, but.. that's just plain silly. There are hundreds of places on-line where you can get bookplates. You can even make your own these days!

A place for FREE and very nice Bookplates

My Home Library .

I first came across this place when I was looking for Children's Bookplates, and ways to make your own bookplates.

This site offers FREE bookplates to download and print, very cute for children. The designs are by real artists - they don't look home made at all -- of course, you cannot use these for resale. But as gifts to family and friends, they are really nice!

Tell Me What You Think!

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    • TeacherSerenia profile image


      6 years ago

      WOW - great lens - very nice indeed. I love your personal story of being involved with Bookplates. I know what you mean about about being called the bookplate lady. In my neighbourhood, most people do not know my name so I get called XY's mom - XY being my sons name. Everyone in my neighbourhood knows my son!!!

      I remember being in the pizza shop one day deeply engrossed in the book I was reading. But I had no problems looking up when I heard someone say - Don't bother XY's mom right now - she's reading. I looked to see someone I knew and whom I hadn't seen for a while so we had a nice chat to catch up.

      Sorry I know that's off topic, but you know what I mean.

      Blessing this lens because I LOVE your personal story about being involved with bookplates.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi there, I just found your lens and really liked it. I gave it a thumbs-up and liked it, because the information is so relevant in today's high stress world. Thanks for providing it, and keep on lensing . . . I just did one on Migraine Headaches that might interest you .

    • verymary profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago area

      Enjoyed your personal story! 5* and featuring this lens at

    • RobertoLebron LM profile image

      RobertoLebron LM 

      9 years ago

      Very interesting! I'm an artist and I love bookplates myself, yet I've never met anyone who shared my feelings for them. Thanks for sharing the information and your story. Best wishes!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a great site. I can think of some friends who would love these as gifts.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Interesting lens. Thanks for sharing what this is. Good job.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Interesting lens, this is the first I hear of someone in the bookplate business! Good start:)

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great start with Squidoo - this is an interesting lens. Welcome to Squidoo!

    • Karalyn Eckerle profile image

      Karalyn Eckerle 

      9 years ago

      I love bookplates too --- grew up with them. My mother loved them too, so it was a natural I guess. Enjoyed reading your blog and will definitely continue to visit.


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