Forgotten Bookmarks Q&A

I've gotten some emails wondering who it is that runs this site. My name is Michael, glad to meet you, and here is a handy Q&A - many thanks to Carol Corbett for helping me put this together. Any if you have any other questions about me or the site, comment away. I'll answer nearly anything.

When did you start collecting these forgotten bookmarks?

I’ve always collected random stuff like this. I started working at my family’s used bookstore (www.popeks.com) when I was about seven; now, I run the shop. I can’t tell you how many otherwise worthless books I have stashed away over the years just because there was an interesting inscription or drawing.

On average how often do you find one?

In a typical day of sorting, I can go through five or six hundred books. If I’m lucky, I’ll find five bookmarks of real interest. If anyone wanted to start their own collection, I recommend dictionaries and cookbooks, they always seem to have something.

What made you think to create a website of these hidden treasures?

I have boxes of bookmarks saved up, all things that seemed just too interesting to throw away. About three years ago, I came across a large pot leaf inside a microwave cookbook—it was just too funny not to share. I scanned the leaf and book cover into the computer to show some internet friends who got a real kick out of it. After that, whenever I would find something really fascinating or humorous, I would take a picture and share it. I realized I wasn’t the only one who thought these forgotten items were something special.

What’s the most common thing you find? The most unique/valuable?

Pressed leaves are by far the most common. I’ve actually stopped saving them, they are too fragile to keep and I don’t think there’s much interest in 100-year-old maple leaves. Sometimes I find money, like an old crown, but that’s rare. The most unique was a suicide note from the 1930’s, but I decided not to post that one.

What’s your favorite find?

My favorite item is probably the optometrist bookmark (http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2009/05/my-new-favorite-bookmark.html).
There’s something really corny about it, but its fun. I’ve even made it my Twitter avatar @forgottenbkmrks. Overall, however, I really enjoy the old letters. They give us a glimpse into the past, how people talked and wrote and thought.

What do you DO with the items?

Generally I just keep things in storage until I post them to the website or figure out something better to do with them. I’ve given away things like four-leaf clovers through the site and on Twitter; recently I came across a Reddit posting asking for help cheering up a friend with cancer (http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit...). I sent along a few books and clovers, and got a really lovely letter in return. I’ve even tried to offer some things back, but most of our books come from libraries, auctions, and estate sales, so it’s hard to even figure out who the original owner might be. There was one case where a cross-stitched bookmark was returned to its owner after I posted it to the site. His sister had made it for him 24 years prior and he was thrilled to see it again.

Do you do any research on the history of your finds?

If there are names or specific dates, I try and do a cursory look. One of the earlier posts was a black and white photo from a funeral (http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2008/12/cornell-man-to-end.html). There was a Cornell University banner draped over the casket, and a plaque with some information. I tried all of my CSI-type tricks to enhance, but couldn't make it out. That was one I wish I could have know more about.


Do you allow others to submit what they’ve found?

Sure, we’ve had several guest posts, including the sawblade (http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2009/09/from-library-of-paul-bunyan.html).
Readers can just use the contact form on the site (http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2005/11/contact-me.html).

How can people subscribe to your posts?
I run a lot of book giveaways, so it's good to keep an eye on me.

What’s next for Forgotten Bookmarks?

I am hoping to put together a book of favorite items from the site as well as a bunch of new stuff I’ve found. Seems like it would be a good gift for a bibliophile.

17 comments:

tori said...

This is a great post! I would love to see you publish a book about your finds. I would definately buy it!

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I'm a reader and lover of old books; also, a calligrapher who makes custom bookmarks. I absolutely love bookmarks and I find your blog fascinating and entertaining. Thank you for sharing your treasures with a wider audience!

I've been thinking about contacting you for some time, so now seems to be the right time to tell you that I'd like to send you a custom bookmark as thanks for entertaining me so well. If you are interested in this, you can contact me through my blog.

Your Handwritten Recipes is another of my favorites. I treasure the handwritten recipes I have from my grandmothers and other friends and family members.

snugglebug said...

I think that you could have a coffee-table book of the most interesting posts from your website. These are so interesting, especially knowing what book they were found in. I've been known to use some pretty weird bookmarks when I need one quick. I'd buy your book!

jociegal said...

How nice to know a little more about you! This is one of the best blogs around and I enjoy each and every post. You should totally do a book!!!

FairiesNest said...

I love this blog! I've always been a fan of used books and have found many wonderful things in them over the years. Thanks for letting us share vicariously in your finds!

unmoderated said...

Thank you all for the encouraging comments. Glad to know people enjoy seeing and thinking about this stuff as much as I do.

Sandy said...

Great post. Nice to put a name and bit of a personality to the blog. It's always interesting.

Pam said...

I'm so glad you did this post. I love your blog and always look forward to seeing what you've found. It's nice to know a little more about you. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and I totally be interested in a book about your finds. I like the idea of a coffee table book. Keep us posted.

Guy Aron said...

I enjoy the blog and think the idea of posting things that people have left behind is quite poignant. At the risk of being a pedant, though, can I raise something that irks me just a tad? Your heading (and commentary) about the "most unique" bookmark you've found qualifies an absolute. Something's either unique or it isn't. Hope you (and your readers) take this comment in the spirit in which it's intended, namely, to make something great even greater!

Michelle said...

I really love your blog and wonder if you've had any one lay "claim " to photo's or anything else from your postings?

unmoderated said...

Michelle, the closest we've come so far is from this bookmark:

http://www.forgottenbookmarks.com/2009/03/inge.html

The original artist, Inge Kern, found the posting.

unmoderated said...

Oh, and there was some fun finding an original owner on Twitter. I had come across a "baby book," a little book you can buy when your baby is born so you can record stats, measurements, first words, locks of hair, etc. With the help of @geneabloggers, we were able to track down a relative. The book was from the 1920s.

Heather said...

What a great Q&A! I enjoy your sites very much :) Follow you on twitter and look forward to seeing all of the treasures you find. Thanks so much for sharing.
:D
Heather

Carol said...

Check out the full article for Forgotten Bookmarks here http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2314025/forgotten_bookmarks.html?cat=2

It's just a bit more than the Q&A...This is a terrific site and I think of it each time I find a new "forgotten bookmark" in my travels. A book seems eventual and I'd love to help if it comes about. Glad to see everyone enjoying this as much as me! :)

neer said...

I love going thru old books for comments in the margins or inscriptions etc in the beginning. So glad I found your blog. Following it now.

Jessica Mulley said...

Just wanted to leave comment to say what a delightful and amusing afternoon I've had browsing through your book "forgotten bookmarks". I buy loads of second hand books (although not on your scale) and used to think that I was the only person who was even slightly interested in the things between the leaves. Now I see I'm not, so might start keeping a note! I also donate a lot of books back to charity shops and I'm sure I must have left my own receipts, cards, bookmarks etc in them over the years. Lovely site too.

Michael Popek said...

Thanks for reading, Jessica! If you find anything good, be sure to share with us. I love guest posts.

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