Staking Your Claim: Do you label your books?

A wise Englishman once penned: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” and I couldn’t agree more when it comes to books.  I am loathe to lend my books and when I do, it’s only to my mom, aunt, or sister.  Despite my non-lending tendencies, I’m surprisingly fanatical about labeling my books. 

In the old days, when I was a mere novice, I would just write my name on the inside cover.  Later, I graduated to bookplates–of which I still have a ton.  But hand labeling and bookplates went the way of the 8-track player after I was given the mother of all book labelers: a personalized EMBOSSER.

Behold, the beauty that is my embosser:

embosser2Breathtaking, isn’t it?  I know!  My mother-in-law gave this to me many birthdays ago–it was special ordered from Martha Stewart’s now-defunct catalog, Martha by Mail.  It came with two other embosser plates and some lovely paper. 

For those of you who’ve never seen or used an embosser, you simply slip a page between the circular plates, and squeeze.  The embosser than leaves a raised seal, similar to a notary seal–except this one says “Library of Natalie Mxxxxxx”. 

Typically, I only label books I intend to keep, not the drugstore paperbacks that I donate to my local library or hospital after finishing them.   

So, how about you?  Are you as fiendish as I am when it comes to staking your claim on your books?  If so, what’s your preferred method of marking?


48 responses to “Staking Your Claim: Do you label your books?

  1. As a kid I used to label ALL of my books, but I haven’t done that in a very long time. Sadly, I don’t have many friends who love to read so I don’t lend my books very often. If I did I think I might consider getting an awesome embosser like the one you have. Love it!

  2. I don’t label books, but if I had an embosser like that I probably would.

  3. That is *sweet*! I used to stamp them with a “This Book Belongs To” teddy bear stamp and a stamp of my name. I also dated when I bought them.

    l don’t lend out many of my books. And I don’t let my mom borrow anymore because she dogears pages, uses paper clips as bookmarks, and cracks the spines even on autographed books!!! I am really anal-retentive about the condition of my books, so I only lend them to a few select people who will take care of them. (Sorry, Mom. 😉 )

    I do label my books at school (tho’ one girl tried to get around that by whiting-out my name…) and I also write the genre inside so they get back in the right baskets. My classroom library is my pride and joy, and what I am most worried about getting damaged this summer! 😦

  4. I had no idea that these embossers were available for the public to purchase; for some reason I thought they were for “official” use only.

    I think this is a very dignified way to personalize those books that you know you want to keep on your bookshelves forever.

    Hmmm…I think I may have to look into this as a possible Christmas gift idea.

  5. I don’t label my books but that is a beautiful thing and I am REALLY jealous of it!

  6. I like to write all over my books. That definitely puts one’s mark on them.

  7. I’m jealous too! I want one!

  8. I love that! I label my classroom books, but never thought about labeling my personal books.

  9. I don’t usually label my books, but I would love to have an embosser. What a fantastic gift.

  10. I used to use bookplates but I stopped a long time ago. I didn’t like leaving my name in if I got rid of the book and couldn’t get the sticker off. Your embosser is a pretty thing though!

  11. I want one! I’ve forever lending out books and forgetting who I lent them to. They typically, eventually make their way back to me, but this would help… and it is totally fun!

  12. That is SO neat!! I would like to have one, but maybe have a chage plate where you could emboss the date embossed as well – when you received it.

  13. I used to label my books when I was growing up. I had those sticky panels that said “This Book Belongs To…” and you wrote your name in the box. Sometimes I simply scrawl my name inside the front cover. But your embosser is awesome! I so want one!!!!!

  14. Williams and Sonoma sells embossers and gold seals etc I’ve had the embosser on my wish list for the last few years. Maybe this year I will get it. 🙂

  15. I don’t normally label my books but that embosser certainly makes me want to start! Hmm…now I have something new I can add to my list of “stuff I really want but don’t need”. 🙂 Thanks!

  16. I never write in books, not even textbooks (when I returned them at semester’s end, the university store probably resold them as new).

    Inscribing my name never seemed right and I long ago toyed with the idea of making a custom bookplate reading, in Latin of course, This book stolen from the library of [Pannonica’s real name], with an appropriately sinister, possibly macabre, illustration .

    Soon after that I, like you, decided the best solution was an embosser but wanted nothing to do with the standard monogrammed or simply personalized ones available. It was either creating a unique, graphical design of my own or no embosser at all. But that was long ago, in the pre-internet days. Perhaps now there’s a custom service available. If not, then I guess it’s yet another potentially lucrative business niche I’ve failed to capitalize on. My money-making acumen is pitiable.

  17. I do not label my books. My sister got me a From the Library of Jennifer stamp one year for Christmas. I loved the thought, but I’ve never used it. However, if I had something like you have, I certainly would – especially after reading 84, Charing Cross Road.

    That was definitely a gift that keeps on giving! Lucky duck!

  18. It wasn’t until this year that I seriously considered creating my own personal library.

    And even then, I never thought about labeling my books – in any way or form.

    But you have me thinking if I do, this would be an amazing way to do it.

    Good grief. Like I need another reason to google something. Which invariably leads me deep into the labyrinth that is the internets and my husbands wallet. *sigh*

    • That second line should read: “And even then,”

      Yeah. Got so excited about the concept I lost the ability to properly form thought, reason, and sentences.

      I think I need some retail therapy. Maybe something like….an embosser.

      nat says: i fixed it for you!

  19. Now, this is something I MUST HAVE.

    Thanks for the post!

    Connie @

  20. I really, really like this – it’s so elegant. I don’t normally put labels on my books, but I definitely would if I had one of these!

  21. What an elegant way to ‘label’ your books! I might have to get one because it is so much nice than glueing in a book ‘label’…..

    Thanks for the post!
    Chick with Books Blog

  22. Oooh, so pretty! Lucky you!
    I suddenly feel the need to to label all of my books!

  23. Wow, I love the embosser. I usually write “SB” (my initials) in tiny letters on the page closest to the inside back cover.

  24. What a gorgeous book addict tool! I will have to keep an eye out for one like that over here. I don’t usually label my books – only my work related ones that are usually quite expensive. I only lend books to my very close friends so I feel pretty safe that I know where they are!

  25. I definitely want one of those. It is fabulous. I don’t write anything in my books – like to keep them clean and hate lending them out too.

  26. Okay, seriously? That embosser? I am wicked jealous! 🙂 And I don’t even label my books!

    Like you, I’m very wary of loaning my books out… because I never seem to see them again, and I find the conversations of, “Hey, do you still have that book I loaned you, um, four months ago?!” particularly awkward! At this point, the only person I unabashedly hand books over to is my sister, because sisters can rag on each other like that! 🙂

    But friends? Only if I’m perfectly okay with never seeing the book again. Because otherwise it festers and destroys perfectly good friendships, haha! Along those same lines, I don’t like borrowing books from friends — I worry that if I take too long with it, they’ll think I’m a book thief, too! Just this morning my coworker left a book on my desk to borrow, and now I’m going to try and race through it on vacation so I can get it back ASAP. So much stress!!

  27. That is a fantastic device!!

    I only lend my books to people I know appreciate my ‘don’t break the spine’ policy.

  28. I would love to have an embosser (although this terrible girl that I know has one, and so it made me wonder if I would be terrible by association if I also had one)! I don’t do anything to mark my books as my own because we have so many of them and I don’t know too many real-life readers, so lending them isn’t really a problem… But if I did have an embosser, I would likely do as you do and only brand books I had already read and knew that I loved and wanted to keep forever!

  29. Oh my gosh I want one!

  30. I try not to get too attached to my books (with a few exceptions, of course). My mom and sisters and I trade books very frequently and sometimes I get them back and sometimes I don’t. I would rather someone be enjoying them and passing them to the book lovers in their circle.

  31. No, but since I tell everyone that I take my books into the bubble bath with me no books have wandered off. I wonder why?

  32. Nope, I don’t label, but that embosser totally rocks! I want one that says “chartroose rules.” OWNERSHIP IS ALL!!

  33. Oh, and I’d have them change the Mxxxxxx part. Don’t they know how to spell? ( =

  34. sometimes I do and sometimes I do not…depends on the book and whether I want it back or not. You have another Connie commenting…probably double trouble…it is so rare I see someone with my name I will have to go visit…
    hmmm…I could use my notary seal LOL

  35. wow! That is AWESOME! I don’t mark my books in any way, but if I had one of those I would 😛

  36. I don’t label my books as they tend to come in and then go out again fairly quickly. I’m not a big book keeper (used to be until my husband complained). But I totally love your embosser!!! If I could think of something to use it for, I would totally get one! How cool!

  37. I labeled all of my books when I was a kid, mostly because I’d often take them to school or loan them to friends and wanted to make sure I got them back. (Didn’t always happen, of course.)

    I don’t label them anymore, but if I had a beautiful embosser like yours, I absolutely would.

  38. DAMN! And I thought Pans said SHE put the A into ANAL (both of them)!


    That embosser is SWEEEEEET. Seriously. PS: I can see your last name!!

    [made you look]

  39. It’s BEAUTIFUL!

    My grandparents used to have an embosser in their office and I would go down there and secretly emboss everything that was made out of paper. I probably tried to emboss things that weren’t made out of paper. I’m sure when my grandparents moved out, they found a ridiculous amount of embossed things.

    All that being said, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD GIVE ME A PERSONALIZED EMBOSSER. Maybe then all my friends would stop stealing my books 😉
    I realize I could probably just write my name in the books, but that is not nearly as cool.

  40. I’m old school. I write my name on the first page of my books in pen, though I think an embosser would be a great alternative….oooo I want one!

  41. I see a copy of The Gargoyle in the background AND I covet mightily the embosser, another win-win!

  42. Have you seen the website Shelfari? It’s like making your own card catalog, and on the “Edition” page you can keep track of who you lent the book to! It’s a totally fun and addicting site, at least for us bookworms. 😉

  43. Pingback: Links I’ve stumbled across this week | Farm Lane Books Blog

  44. That’s the coolest bookish thing I’ve seen in the longest time!

  45. I love that! Very classy. I don’t label my books because I end up trading so many on Book Mooch or at used book stores. I probably should label the ones I am keeping, my favorites. I am very impressed with this. Now I want one of my own!

  46. How come you emboss the book at the bottom right edge of the page and not the bottom center?
    Do you know the appropriate place to emboss a book? I just purchased an embosser and could use your advice before I started stamping

    nat says: no real reason…personal preference, i suppose!

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