Whether it is bookplates, ex libris, or book labels – they are all names for the same thing. They are the squares or rectangles of printed paper that owners stick inside their books to show they own the book. I tend to use the word bookplates.
Ex Libris (Latin for ‘from the library of’) is a nice way to describe them but it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, particularly when you want to say the plural.
Book labels sounds like any other kind of label – such as the label on a tin of salmon – so there is not much magic or artistry in the word.
Bookplates harkens back to books with illustrations and is unlike any other word, so I use that.
Bookplates are a way of ensuring that if you lend the book to someone, your name is front and centre to remind them who lent it to them. It doesn’t guarantee you will get the book back, but you are more likely to than if there was no bookplate in the book.
Even if you don’t intend to lend out a book, you may still want to put a bookplate in some of your books. Many people do that to show their pride in ownership. And besides, they look nice.
The Art Of Bookplates
The art of designing bookplates spread across Europe in the 1500s with the spread of printing, and many famous artists designed their own bookplates.
My own interest in bookplates came in my late teens when I saw designs by Aubrey Beardsley. Swirling, sinuous Art Nouveau designs and solid blacks are the hallmarks of his designs. My own choices are based on the graphic impact that he put into bookplates and other drawings.
Some artists incorporated their own names into the bookplates they designed. Others, like Beardsley, left a space for the name to be written in by hand. That is the principle I have followed: Each bookmark has space for the owner to add his or her signature.
My Bookplates Shop – What’s Included
The bookplates in the shop show the designs available, and each purchase is for a sheet of 32 bookplates of one design.
Important – the bookplates are not gummed. You should paste them in place using a Pritt stick (my favourite) or something similar.
The reason they are not gummed is that I print the bookplates on 220gsm Medium Surface cartridge paper, and that’s not available ready gummed.
It’s a substantial paper, unlike the thin paper used for gummed labels such as the ones sold as Avery sheets.
Avery sheets are good for their purpose, and I use them myself for address labels on envelopes, or for labels on jars. But for a bookplate to paste into a book, you need something with more character, which is what I supply.