The Origami bookmark you can make for free

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I’ve never quite got the hate toward dog earing. I mean I understand the squeamish “your damaging the book!” rational. But most of the people I know who dog ear are the same sort of people who read the most, and read the most deeply. When I do it its mostly to mark things to look up later, double check, quickly re-read, cross references, have a deeper look at later or quote. And its usually something I do with books I intend to (or have) re-read multiple times. Its the same sort of practice as writing notes in the margin. Sure you’re altering the book, but with a purpose. And its usually a sign of the sort of deep, respectful attention and the sort of readers publishers and writers seek to fosters, and often times are themselves. Its particularly less of an offense when your talking paper backs, which aren’t long lived to begin with (and where I do most of my “disrespectful” stuff to books). Frankly unless a book mark is paper thin, its not exactly friendly to the book either. And once you get a few piled in there you can destroy the spine pretty easily (I’ve had this happen, its why I started dog earing in the first place). I’d rather have jacked up corners than a split or warped spine, and dropped pages.

Its sort of like the admonition against flexing/cracking/creasing the spine of paper backs. And while yeah you don’t want to completely fracture the glue by pushing it too far too soon, there are really good reasons to open a book in a way that creases the paper along the spine. I had a teacher in high school who actually ran tests with the schools assigned books for decades. One group of kids were told to flex the spine in a particular way to “break in” the book when they were first handed out. Another were told to avoid that at all costs. Carefully and fully creasing that spine before reading it the first time lead to books that could be read more times before breaking even if they spend more time looking ragged and didn’t hold up as long when shelved after a reading or two (and frankly they were more comfortable to read). The coddled books had their spines split into two after far fewer reads, more dropped pages etc. Since then I crease every paper back in exactly the way he taught me. You stand the book on its spine and hold it up right. You grab small batches of pages, say around 10-25ish, and press them flat to the table. Then run your finger firmly along the angle as if folding paper. You start from the back and front cover working toward the center. The thing to avoid is taking too large a group of pages, or starting from the middle. Both can crack the glue, or flex it too far leaving it weak. The whole idea is to carefully soften and flex the glue, and only crease the paper cover. The books I have where I’ve done this, have held up more than 20 years of occasional re-reads. The ones where I haven’t (chiefly comic trade paperbacks, they’re often a bit to narrow for this to work with out cracking the binding entirely) are dropping pages after far less time and a few of them have lost covers or split into two or three pages.


We must know different people. The most involved readers I know love not just the story, but the books themselves. And, hey, if you want to dog ear pages or break the spine on your own property, go for it. But the people I notice dog earing books and breaking spines are often people reading public library books while commuting, because, IMO, they are selfish, self-absorbed asswipes who are too effing lazy to so much as stick a receipt into the book as a book mark. And you’d have to be some kind of packrat to have so many bookmarks to break a spine. Are you using gator board for bookmarks or something? Geez.

Speaking of which, the origami book mark in the OP is neat, but less than optimal. Bookmarks on the upper corner like that, that don’t clip on, are more likely to fall off. A simple piece of paper (perhaps even a slip of nice origami paper) tucked close to the spine will not fall out, and is even easier to make.

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Twelve steps… or you know… just use a receipt…


I tear a long thin strip of scrap paper as my bookmark and then write my notes and page references on that.

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Or the origami paper itself. no folds.



“How often has this happend to you?”

Woman struggles with book, turns out pockets, dumps out purse looking for bookmarks, gives up as she looks to camera, exasperated.


“I can’t tell you how many times over the past five decades I needed a bookmark when none were around. Bookmarks are designed to reside most comfortably between the pages of a book, which makes them awkward to keep in your pocket, wallet, or purse, which is really where you want them when you suddenly need one.”


“Finally, there is a solution! The Origami Bookmark from Boing Boing! In just 12 easy steps it will revolutionize the way you read books! You’ll have more free time. You’ll get out of the house more! Your kids will be delighted you remember where you left off reading their bed time stories. And your husband will love the new meals you cook now that you don’t start on the first page of your cook book every night.”



It’s almost as if Richard is making fun of the Boing Boing Store copy…almost…


You mean the copyright page wasn’t intended to be ripped out and used to as a bookmark?


And don’t mention folding the corner of the page over – don’t go there. Book publishers (that’s me) don’t like to hear that.

Why not just dogear the page? That’s even less than twelve steps, mister book publisher. It’s as easy as pie - look, I’ll show you. There’s a dogear. There’s a couple more. Hell, I could sit here all day folding them corners!


I guess, since no cutting is involved, a dog ear counts as an “origami bookmark you can make for free”? Though I suppose a purist would say that only counts if the pages are square…


Or you could just cut the corner off a junk-mail envelope. Takes three seconds, there are always a bunch of them available for you, and they cost nothing. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

I don’t know what everyone is talking about. All I have to do is tap the corner of the screen. Instant, free bookmark! Luddites.


The art of origami is just that: an art. Sure, you can cut off the corner of an envelope and use that, but it’s merely utilitarian. Folding over the corner of a page is for pagans. :stuck_out_tongue:

Origami is fun, and although I’ve just described the simplest origami bookmark I possibly could, if you follow the link in the article you’ll find some truly beautiful bookmarks that aren’t just a square of paper, but sculpts of animals and objects. They make great gifts, too, if you don’t have a lot of spare scratch.

So this origami thing is like a 12-step program for people who dog-ear book pages?

  1. I’m not breaking the spine. I’m flexing and creasing the spine in a very particular way to prevent it from breaking. An act people tell me is terrible sacrilege because it creates a visual crease in the paper covering the glue. If you do it right the book will last longer. Hell even if you do it slightly wrong the book will last longer. You get a spine made of flexible glue not prone to breakage, rather than a stiff plank of glue that will split the first time you open that shit fully.

  2. Dog earing doesn’t do much to the book. Even if the dog ear eventually breaks off, which they sometimes do after repeat reads, in older books or books that have been read repeatedly. The page is still intact and the text uninterrupted.

  3. In terms of bookmarks damaging the spine. If your using the sort of decent bookmarks that tend to stay in place (I use slips of paper in hard covers, they like to slip out) like say index cards, thick card stock or paper, metal, leather, or origami bits and pieces and the thickness builds up quick. Take 5 business cards and stack them up (these make great bookmarks). See how thick that is? Now stack up ten. Imagine snugging that thickness of additional paper right up into the spine, where a book mark is most likely to stay in place. It tends to stretch things out, and yeah I’ve got several books just a few feat away from me with upwards 10 marks or dog ears in them. With paperbacks it tends to strain the spine, causing it to split. With hard covers it tends to stretch out the binding, loosening the stitching. Which leads to dropped pages, and tears. I’d rather fold over a corner and have a permanent, immobile mark that does little damage to the functionality of the book.

I do this with hardcovers (though I don’t tend to annotate much, my handwriting is shit). Sometimes I use post its (though I’m not sure if the glue is exactly good for the paper, so I usually remove them later). Like I said paper backs aren’t meant to last to begin with. My goal is to keep them readable longer, not pristine and untouched on I shelf so I can point at them while I talk about how much I love books. Hardcovers on the other hand are built to last. So it makes sense to me to minimize the stress I put them under. Still occasionally dog ear them (mostly cook books though). And I’ve no use for dust jackets. I understand they are important for collector value (something I don’t have much interest in). And they have a sort of base functionality for protecting covers. But really they just sort of get in the way. Unless its pretty good looking or sturdy I tend to lose them (not deliberately though).

Flapping Crane made from a cigarette paper is my party trick origami.

The proper way to hold a book open is with an open hand, facing toward the self, open book resting between thumb and pinky. Everyone who bends paperbacks willy-nilly is a barbarian, the kind prone to breaking your kitchen faucet because they have an unconscious need to slam the handle as hard as they can when they want the sink to turn off.

I like to fold and tear cheap copy paper for bookmarks, sometimes folding the sheets into little quires for impromptu notebooks. I feel a deep sadness for those who cannot appreciate the natural habitat of books: in messy little stacks on the floor.

Also: books have a strange bug (feature) where they are way easier to read when you’re in the middle of them. I’ve been wondering lately if the whole codex idea is flawed, as a scroll can be unrolled on say, a picnic table. Then a group of people could read a work by simply moving down a bench as geese doth fly in a ‘V’.

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