How Do You Personalize Your Books?

I’ve just recently started collecting Easton Press edition. VERY nice leather bound books with great workmanship. You pick one up and you know you’re reading a BOOK. Kinda pricey, but it’s one of the few luxuries I allow myself.

Easton sends bookplates with them, but the endpapers are so gorgeous that I really don’t want to spoil them by sticking something on them. And writing a name in them just seems so … obscene. I’d like to be able to put some sort of stamp of ownership on them so people would know that they’re mine, Mine MINE AND YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!

So, I’m looking for ideas. How do you personalize your books?

I READ 'em.

What, do I look like a lending library?

I always go with bookplates, but then I don’t spend much money on books - I liked old, beat-up ones. Because I get a lot of books either as presents, or on vacations or trips when I spot a used-book store, I am also in the habit of writing when I got it, where I got it, who got it for me, and any other special memory associated with the book on the inside cover, beneath the bookplate. I do calligraphy, so that looks classy.

Perhaps you could think about getting special bookmarks? I’m sure there’s a place that personalizes leather ones, or you can get metal page-clip style bookmarks engraved. It can’t be that expensive, but it’d be a nice way to get your name in the book. You can pick the design or tookwork, and perhaps have the date you bought the book put on there, too. When my grandmother died, I inherited about 100 books from her, and almost all of them had their own bookmark - nothing special, but most of them had a design or image that related to the story. I still have all the same bookmarks that she put in them. That’s a possibility as well.

Hope that helps!

There are book imprinters (I don’t know if that’s their real name). They’re a pliers-like device with a round face which has something like “From the Library of Eutychus - mine, Mine, MINE AND YOU CAN’T IT BWAHAHAHAHAHA” engraved on it. You put a title page in, give the handles a squeeze, and it stamps an classy looking imprint with raised letters into the page (although if you want the full classy effect you might want to work on the phrasing).

I’ve got a bookplate stamp that I had made up when I was in college. I drew out my original in india ink, then took it to a store where it was photoreduced to 1/2 scale and turned into a rubber stamp. It’s got my monogram ove an open book, surrounded by a design and the traditional “Ex Libris (my name)”. I just find an empty page near the beginning of the book and stamp it in.

I dunno…this may seem a little declassé, but Max the kitty-cat normally punctures the cover with his front teeth. Lends a vampirish atmosphere to my library.

Seriously, though, an embosser seems like your best bet. There’s this store/catalog called Levenger specializing in “tools for the serious reader”—you can probably get one there.

Keep in mind, though, that this seriously devalues the books in terms of collectability (unless you’re famous and people will one day be lining up for books out of your library).

I have one of those pliers-like embossers and I love it. I received it as a gift (it was purchased at Levengers) and I use it everytime I read a book that I like (maybe once a week - I read more than that, but the percentage of read-to-like is thin I am afraid). I have had people bump into me in strange places and say, “Oh, you’re TV time? I’m reading one of your books.”

Actually they are reading one of the books I embossed, in many cases years ago, and ended up selling, trading or giving away. I met a bartender in Hilo, Hawaii who knew of me from a book I had embossed and traded in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That being said, I should echo what was said by booklover that if you use an embosser and to a lesser extent bookplates, and for that matter, handwriting, it will markedly lessen the value of a “good” book. A book hawk once told me that a book can drop from $350 to $20 (or more) if it is embossed.

For me at least, the existential value of having read and liked a book is worth more than its resale price so I emboss.

Nothing too fancy, but I write my name and the year I bought it. I suppose I do the first because of that line in When Harry Met Sally (I’m a LOONG way from getting married, but my parents went through a very ugly divorce), and also because I’m very protective about my things. I also write my initials on my CD’s. As for the second, I don’t know why, thought it is interesting tracking what books I bought when.

Yeah, I love that! An old friend gave me an edition of Siddhartha several years ago, and wrote, “Sarah ~ May this book serve as a trailguide on your journey home ~ Jen,” on the title page. I wrote in teeny calligraphy letters, “18th Birthday ~ Red Brick Station ~ May 21st, 1999” underneath that. I never actually read the book then, but I had to read it recently for a European Lit class, and it made me so happy to re-read that inscription - it brought back so many memories.

I use a fancy little monogram rubber stamp. Only cost me about 2 bucks and it prints a handsome “M” with a design around it. I like it. It’s prints about the diameter of a dime-size.

I recently saw one of those personalized embossers at Barnes & Noble. OHHHhhh I gotta have one of those! Costs almost 30.00 though, and it takes 15 business days to receive the custom emboss insert in the mail. sigh.

I just pee on 'em. Marks them like all the rest of my territory.

What? You mean you guys don’t do that?

I make books, i love books. i devour books whole on a regular basis. I LOVE THEM I LOVE THEM I LOVE THEM.

Did i mention my utter Bookaholics Annonymous worthy addiction to books?

so i understand the reluctance to mar the surface of a well crafted hand made book. My answer? I blind emboss the last end page with my hanko. I am a printmaker so this is fairly easy for me to do but you could possibly have this done for you (if you cared to) I just use a poylamer plate and the proofing press in my studio but if you dont have these resources there is a method called hot stamping that will do just as well. With hot stamping you can blind emboss your name into the back cover through the finals. Since it is blind emossed you cant remove it and it will not mar the colour or design of the finals. Makes it yours all yours!!


I’ve had a personal embosser for about 12 years. At first, I tried marking all my books at once, but now I only do so when I’m about to lend out, or re-read, one that is un-embossed.

I have a name chop that I bought in Beijing about 6 years ago. It has my name in English and in phonetic Chinese (“Gou-Bei-Ru” as opposed to Gobear). I use it to stamp every book I buy.

Euty, I also collect Easton Press editions. After about six years, I’ve got about 120 of them: the Narnia books, the Little House books, the Baseball Hall of Fame books, and about 2/3s of the 100 Greatest Books Ever Written. The latter are the ones I assume you’re talking about, based on your descriptions of the end papers. I use the bookplates (and I’m peeved that they recently changed the style of them, so most of my books have one style and the rest will have another), but I place them on the second page, rather than on the end papers. Sign 'em in fountain pen - ballpoint would desecrate the books. The baseball books are cool, though - the bookplates are designed to match the printing on the endpapers. So you have to be very careful with the placement, but the effect is neat.

On my non-leatherbound hardcovers (which comprise most of the rest of my library), I carefully place little labels I had made up from Colorful Images that have a Golden Retriever puppy wearing glasses asleep on a book (and my name, of course). Future value of the books means very little to me - I will probably never sell them.

Paperbacks I don’t bother doing anything with.

I fold the corners over to bookmark pages. Invaluable, really, since I usually have three books on the go at any one time (one for the bus, one for quiet pub afternoons and one for home). I’m not a fan of any kind of labels, but a well-thumbed paperback just feels comfortable to me.

Well, the extreme dog-earing and turned down page corners usually indicate one of my books.

Failing that, the death’s-head charicature, inked with my own blood, and made of letters spelling out “omnes morientur” does the trick. :smiley:

My roommate writes on the inside cover “The book you are reading was stolen from John Doe*”

  • name changed to protect the innocent

I used to eat mine. When I was a child, I had the peculiar habit of tearing off the corners of pages, and chewing them as I read: my copy of Winnie the Pooh looks as if it has been mauled by wolves, but picking it up and seeing the torn-off corners brings back a flood of memories of being 6 and devouring it, literally and figuratively. This habit, sadly, extended to books other than my own, and the Young Adult section of whichever library I frequented soon looked as if a plague of locusts had swept through. I doubt they ever knew why, but I think that it was an act of tribute rather than vandalism: I only ever gnawed the books I liked.