There are two types of people in the world. Those who use bookmarks… and those who dog ear the corners of a page. And the divide between the two is wide.
Many booklovers believe there’s no excuse for dog-earing pages, and that damaging a book is unforgivable. Beware anyone who borrows a book from one of these types and returns it with even one dog-eared page.
But there are others, equally passionate about books, who crease and fold without a second thought. To these people, books are there to be read and loved, and there is nothing more loved than a slightly battered book.
Research suggests that bookmarks have accompanied books for about 2,000 years. Early books were delicate, so something was needed to mark a page without damaging the manuscript. The oldest existing bookmark dates back to the 6th century AD. It is an ornamented leather bookmark and was attached to the cover of an ancient manuscript found under the ruins of the monastery of Apa Jeremiah in Egypt.
Throughout history, bookmarks have accompanied books. They were used throughout the medieval period. Silk bookmarks were given as gifts during the Victorian era. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth was presented with a fringed silk bookmark by her Royal Printer. Perforated board with fringed ends was used from around 1830.
There is no doubt that historically, bookmarks play an important role in reading. But do we still need to be so precious about our modern day paperbacks?
We’ve all been there. It’s late. You’re about to turn off the light and go to sleep. You reach for a bookmark to save your page, only to realise you don’t have one. Do you get out of bed and search for something to slip between the pages? Or do you dog-ear and switch off the light, falling straight into a guilt free slumber?