Bookmarks

Bookmarks are hard to find. At least, I am seeing fewer and fewer of them floating around. Of course, with so many books available in e-book form, it’s no wonder that there are fewer bookmarks.

I like bookmarks, but often use anything but a bookmark to hold my place. The most frequent object I put toward this use is a business card. Business cards have the same thickness of a bookmark. They fit squarely between the pages. They do the job very well. I also feel less guilty about them sitting on my desk or in my wallet, going unused.

We are packing up for a move to a new house, and when I went to look for a business card for the book I’m reading, I couldn’t find one. The book is a hardcover, with a dust jacket, and that is like having a built-in bookmark. I just slide the end of the dust jacket between the pages I want marked.

Dust jacket bookmark
My dust-jacket bookmark.

Most things make terrible bookmarks. In a pinch, I can tear a sheet of paper and slide it between pages. It used to be that a piece of mail would do the trick, but there is so little of that around these days. Then there’s always the possibility of folding down the corner of a page, but avoid that kind of sadism.

E-books have fancy bookmarking capabilities which I rarely use. I don’t know why that is. My Kindle app allows me to place as many bookmarks as I want. Before e-books, the most bookmarks I ever used for one book was two: one to hold my place in the text, the other to keep my place in the endnotes, if they were particularly interesting. I have never found a reason to use more than one bookmark in an e-book. They are no even needed for endnotes because you can jump back and forth between the endnotes and text.

Audiobooks have the worst bookmarks. I love audiobooks but the bookmark system is virtually unusable. The reason for this is that I don’t know I want to mark something until I’ve heard it, at which point I’ve past it. It is complicated and time-consuming to back up to right where I want the bookmark. If I feel the need to bookmark (or annotate) an audiobook, I usually listen along with a copy of the print or e-book.

The thing I miss most about bookmarks is the nice collection I grew from used bookstores. More e-book reading and audiobook listening, combined with fewer used bookstores means fewer opportunities for new bookmarks.

Most magazines come with built-in bookmarks: those annoying cards that ask you to renew your subscription, or send a gift subscription to a friend. When a new magazine arrives in the mail, I rip out all of those cards, and toss all but one–and then use that one as a bookmark until I am finished with the magazine.

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