Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vandalism In the Age Before the Internet

My copy of Joyce Dingwell's "Inland Paradise"
One of the ways I use to navigate the rocky shoals of vintage Harlequin-ness is to put on my Indiana Jones hat and decipher codes, signs and symbols left by previous owners.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  Open the front cover of any book and there you will find initials (Nice to know these ladies liked to mark their territory like a lioness roaming the Savannah.) and various other indications that this book was beloved (they never seem to mark the crap ones).

The writing is always the same (like some romantic-minded Joan Appleseed was working her way through the entire print production) but that's because old-time teachers were fascists somehow able to manage to stamp out 1950s era 12-year-old girl bubble writing.

There are plus signs, double plus signs, stars, exclamation points, words...These are very handy when you don't have ready access to an internet review.

So, do you mark them up?  And, if not, how do you keep track?


  1. I always thought that they were doing that so that they'd know they read it. Since there is usually little in the Great Betty's titles (or whatever gnome made up the titles) to tell you what the story is about, it only made sense if you were making that difficult trip to the library to have something there to let you know that you already read it. I don't do that since I buy them....

  2. Yes, most of the time I see them they are initials or symbols to indicate that the inconsiderate defacers had read the book and thus will not need to waste time reading it again.
    I don't always remember the names of the books I've read but usually I remember the cover.
    I hope they aren't doing this to library books! I see them in UBS's or library swaps etc. And it bugs me, but since I'm a bookcrosser and I also deface my books with a label, I guess I'd be pitching books from a glass shelf.

  3. I like seeing the stamp and price from the used bookstores from which I purchased my Harlequin paperbacks. Clearly, I was loath to pay more than 50 cents a tome and preferred the quarter ones.

    BTW, handwriting is no longer being taught in public schools, at least round here. Can the Apocalypse be far behind?

  4. I don't mark my books except: college textbooks, Bible, and Betty Neels. For BNs, I only label with a number corresponding to the order in which they appeared on that Wiki list which, unfortunately, I discovered belatedly, was not in the chronological order in which they were published.