DIY postcard bookmark tutorial

blank postcards

When I was young and already a heavy book addict, my great-aunts would gift me bookmarks—the ones with tassels displayed on racks by the checkout counter at bookstores, usually of cats and flowers (though bookmarks seem to have gotten all fancy since the 1980s). But even the cheapest ones have always been rather pricey for a piece of card stock and some twisted string, unless one chooses the perforated book o' bookmarks (but who likes those little nubs?).

Years ago I had a lightbulb moment and realized the postcards I'd bought when traveling or picked up free as advertisements (see the Miss Navajo card above and the Houghton Mifflin "bookcard" found in a used hardcover copy of The Handmaid's Tale) that were just sitting in a drawer could become bookmarks, more substantial than scraps of paper, less bulky than metal hooks, less fiddly than ribbons with dangling trinkets, and less dangerous than the top-loaders, bookmarks shaped like elaborate paperclips that fit onto a page and often tear, bend, or otherwise imprint the page.

postcards from Provence, Spain, and San Francisco

While this idea of making bookmark corners out of postcards wins points for cuteness and upcycling, the design would probably function for me like the clips. For me a plain postcard, whether handwritten and postmarked or blank and unused, tucked neatly into a book, is all I need.

postmarked postcards

Here's how to transform a postcard into a bookmark in five easy steps:
  1. Remember where you stashed your travel postcards or the postcards received from friends on vacations of which you were jealous, e.g., that honeymoon to Bali or Paris or the family road trip along Route 66.
  2. If you've thrown all your old postcards away or never had any in the first place because the only posting your friends do is on Facebook, ask an older (i.e., "youth-challenged") person to cull from their stash; buy some at thrift stores for cheap (e.g., Goodwill on SE 6th Ave. in Portland sells donated blank postcards at five for a dollar); or pick up advertising freebies around town. Tip: Bookstores, libraries, museums, clubs, and art galleries are excellent sources for free postcards because artistic types tend to preserve old-school forms of advertising.
  3. Place the postcard gently between the pages of the book you're reading at the page you're on. WARNING: The purpose of a bookmark is to hold your place in the book (just like the person you pay to hold your place in line), so be very careful at this stage of the process. Otherwise, you might lose your place entirely and, worst-case scenario, be forced to start reading the book from the beginning. To repeat, a paper book won't automatically perform this step for you!
  4. If you yourself are youth-challenged, now remove the library receipt or torn envelope from your last electric bill that you'd been using as a temporary bookmark, which worked just fine.
  5. Chuck your Kindle or Nook in favor of this hip, vintage paper technology.

Moe's Books postcard in Isak Dinesen's Last Tales

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