Old bookseller trick – trade labels

Since I set myself up as pundit I get lots of interesting questions sent to my Inbox. Recently someone asked if anyone was still printing Bookseller trade labels. Damn good question I think.

Bookseller labels or tickets were about 1″ in size and pasted into new books along the bottom edge of inside front cover. They were moderately common from about the 1860’s to the 1970s. Though I haven’t made a study of them as some collectors have, like the folks at Seven Roads Gallery who have a terrific online catalog of them.

A terrific memento mori of the bookselling trade. Many famous yet deceased bookstores live on only with these tiny reminders. Sometimes these provenancial evidences even compliment the book and enhance the sale.

Opinions are split on their use in present day bookselling. Granted they would injure an antiquarian book and hinder a book that has a hope of becoming such. But perhaps a little personalization in bookselling is just another method in cultivating a clientèle.

Like bookplates and postage stamps they are printed on a dry gummed paper. Most printers will find it difficult to purchase very small amounts of this stuff. But it can be found on the net from people who buy larger amounts and divvy it up. WCP-NM.com who vends nifty stuff to the people who create personalized postage stamps. One hundred sheets of white Artistamp dry gummed paper is about $20 bucks. they also have different finishes and colors available.

I haven’t found a specific printer who ‘makes’ bookseller trade labels, but almost any printer will make anything you want for a price.

Before you ask, yes the paper is Ph-Neutral – hence archival, however the gum/paste is less so. It came up only slightly tinged with my PH-testing pen.

The most attractive labels were die cut into shapes such as books, and printed with a letterpress. But if you interested in fiddling with the plain rectangular kind, I whipped up a MS Word template with 240 rectangular tickets.

Have fun. Save an obscure bookselling convention.

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