Many authors enjoy printing custom bookplates to give to fans of their books. I’ve never done so until now.
A friend recently returned from a trip to Tampa-St. Pete with the news that my Fibonacci book was being sold in the gift shop of the Salvador Dali Museum. I confess I had to research the venue, since I was unaware that the flamboyant surrealist had anything to do with Florida.
Turns out his work was eagerly collected by a pair of philanthropists who launched the museum in their home state of Ohio in 1971. The collection, which contains the largest grouping of Dali’s work outside Europe, moved to St. Pete in 1982. It took me a while to grasp that the gift shop was carrying my book because of its association with the so-called golden ratio, which Dali supposedly used in his work.
Shops like this are known as special-sales venues in the traditional book business. They sell books, but they’re not bookstores. And that’s usually a good thing for authors because within those four walls competition from other books is limited, and gift shop buyers have an almost moral imperative to buy something.
Since I was unlikely to get to St. Pete anytime soon to sign those books in person, I wrote the gift shop asking them if they were interested in signed bookplates. They said they could use all I could send. The book apparently does well there.
Thing was, I didn’t have any bookplates. I’d tried to design some via Vistaprint a few years ago, but their template and online designer was too complicated for my limited skills. The one on Moo.com worked really well, and I was ordering not one design, but two, in less than hour. Really, all I had to do was drop a JPG file of my book cover into the template, and add some text. Specifically, I used their Custom Rectangular Stickers. Since their website can be overwhelming, I’m providing the direct link here.
The order took a few weeks to get here. (All print jobs take forever unless you spring for rush shipping.) The resulting bookplates are pretty nice. The image of the book cover is reproduced crisply, and the paper is suitably sticky.
The only cons: I was expecting stickers about the size of those “Hi, My Name Is…” stickers, but at 3.30-by-2.17 inches, these are just slightly larger than a business card. I foolishly didn’t use a ruler to check the size before I ordered, so that’s on me, not that it would have mattered much. These are the only rectangular sized stickers Moo offers, so if I wanted to use their design engine, this size came with the territory.
Because of their size, I thought about signing my name with a Sakura Pigma Micron, which has a very fine tip. But the stickers’ waxy coating wouldn’t take the ink. So I went with a plain ol’ Sharpie instead. I think the results are pretty nice, but I prefer the horizontal design over the vertical.
Would I order these again? If I can figure out how to work with Vistaprint, probably not. I’m probably still unreasonably attached to creating a 4-by-3-inch sticker. But these designs are saved now to my Moo account, so it would be ridiculously easy to order more if the Dali Museum—or any other venue—wanted some more. And the price is $17 per 50, even less if I were to order in bulk. (The price-per-sticker drops from US$0.33 to US$0.27 if you order 400.) It’s hard to argue with the easy thing.
I may get some just to carry with my business cards. I have noticed that whenever Denise hands out bookplates to strangers, they seem genuinely excited. Bookplates drive action in a way bookmarks never can. Armed with a signed plate, you have a collectible in the making. All you need to do is buy that darn book.
If you are an author, you have one other calculation you ought to consider. As I mentioned above, the price of these bookplates can get close to a quarter. That’s not dirt-cheap by any means. Most authors are earning very little on royalties. I earn US$0.89 on every copy sold of this picture book. If I routinely gave away a 33-cent bookplate to everyone I met, it would mean that my per-book-earnings were dropping to 56 cents a book. That’s not great. But all authors like having swag to share with fans, and I think autographed bookplates are more meaningful than handing out bookmarks to anyone who breathes. And yes, under US tax law what you spend on bookplates and other promotional materials can be tax-deductible. So there’s that. The cost should not prevent you from having them made; it’s merely a consideration, and a warning not to go nuts.
Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your free ebook, go here.