Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pseudobookmarkiana, or, Money doesn't fall out of Books

When it comes to bookmarks, I enjoy the serendipitous encounter. Not for me the Bookmark Conventions, archive sleeves, binders and must haves. Whatever I come across is fine with me. Oddly enough, I don't always use bookmarkers when reading books. Most often it is a piece of paper to jot down notes as I go along. I used to occasionally mark books with light pencil marginalia, or page numbers on the flyleaves, and occasionally still do, but, unlike David Foster Wallace, I never marked a book in ink. (Or at least I believe I never did.) The problem with my method is that pieces of paper can become lost, while his annotations and jottings safely reside in perpetuity as can be seen at the University of Texas special collection of his work. Other than pieces of writing paper, I often use such things as ticket stubs, bills, coupons, Canadian Tire money, and occasionally my wife's favourite choice for a bookmarker, those sample cards procured from the perfume sections of department stores. They can provide an added olfactory quality to any reading experience.

Anything thin and paper-like could be used for a bookmarker which makes them good for advertising purposes. Businesses that have no connection with books often produce bookmark-like advertising ephemera. The Bar B Barn which opened in 1967 is still thriving. One of my uncles was a long-lunched regular, no doubt from its inception. I picked this one up in the 1980s. I remember a macho sport/businessman type crowd. Probably hasn't changed. The best ribs in town as is so often the boast. By propping this piece of ephemera on a plate or a cup, it would alert a waiter or waitress accordingly. There was often a line-up to get in, so a seat was much in demand. The die-cut flap mimics those in classic bookmarks hence the dual usage. It is, however, made of extremely thin paper. A fragile museum piece no doubt.

Amelio's pizza resto in the McGill ghetto is perhaps more appropriately linked to books being so close to my favourite secondhand bookshop The Word Bookshop and McGill University. A student reading a book there would not be uncommon, but more likely they would be enjoying one of Amelio's tasty rustic pizzas with a nice BYOB Chianti. This is an earlier business card for Amelio's when they were on Lorne. They are presently situated at 201 Milton in the old location of the, dare I say it, hippyish Café Commune.

Finding bookmarkers or pseudobookmarkers in books is the most enjoyable encounter. Letters, postcards, bus transfers, publisher's promotions, theatre tickets, racetrack betting stubs all make interesting page markers. But, for all my years of handling books, I have yet to find money. I remember a library patron who, when returning books, would open them and gently give them a shake, dryly stating he was checking for 1000 dollar bills. As likely as a Unicorn grazing on one's front lawn I imagine. Perhaps it would make a good saying: "money doesn't fall out of books you know."

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