Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview with Forgotten Bookmarks

[Editor's Note: I had such a great time helping Michael from the Forgotten Bookmarks site locate the family of Marjorie Pauline Frost, that I thought the readers here at DAF would like to know more about Forgotten Bookmarks and how the site got started.]

How did you come up with the concept for the Forgotten Bookmarks blog?

I run the family used and rare bookstore, and the bulk of my day is sorting through boxes and boxes of books, many of which are well over 100 years old. As you can imagine, going through that many books will uncover some interesting bits of ephemera. I ended up with boxes of these bookmarks saved up; things that seemed just too interesting to throw away. About three years ago, I came across a large pot leaf inside a microwave cookbook—it was just too funny not to share. I scanned the leaf with the book, and sent the picture to a few friends. After that, whenever I would find something really fascinating or humorous, I would take a picture and share it. It didn't take me long to figure out I wasn't the only one who found these items interesting.

How long has the blog been running? How often do you post to it?

It's been in one form or another since 2007. I started posting nearly every day about a year ago.

Have you blogged before or is FB your first blog?

I dabbled a bit with a blog for our bookstore, as well as a few other projects here and there, but I just didn't have the discipline to keep up with it. Once I started getting comments on Forgotten Bookmarks, it was easy to keep up on it.

You state on your blog that you work in a rare and used bookstore. Does your employer know about the FB blog?

My employers, technically, are my mom and dad. They know about it, in fact, the most popular post I've had - the Harry Potter-esque photo ( -
was actually found by my dad, who had started saving things for me.

Boxers or briefs?

I actually just bought these Hanes tagless no gap fly boxers. Highly recommended.

Have you always worked in bookstores?

It is the family business, so I've been puttering around with books in one way or another since I was seven.

How often do you find family heirloom items like the Frost baby book in a carton of books brought in by people?

Quite often, actually. When people are cleaning out a house, either because of a death or because they are moving, they will group together all the paper items with the books, so I will come across wills, love letters and wedding photos.

Are you usually able to reunite the item with the original owner?

It's pretty rare. For one, it can be hard to track down who even sold them to me, as we do a lot of buying at auction or estates. Most of the time, even if you find an original owner, they won't have any real interest in getting the item back. I always was surprised by that.

Paper or plastic?

Tyvek. I think that's what those reusable bags are made of. At any rate, we have a few of the canvas ones as well. At the bookshop, we just reuse old Walmart plastic bags, or the paper bags Office Depot gives out when they have the $20 a bag sale.

What’s your opinion on the future of small independent booksellers in this age of e-books, online book vendors and mega-chain bookstores?

I think there will always be a place for stores like ours. I have seen just about all the older bookshops in the area go under in the last 10 years, but it's been because places like Amazon and B&N have exposed their weaknesses. I think to thrive as an independent, you have to embrace the internet. We were lucky to get started early on the web. Other than that, I would offer that you can either offer a little bit of everything, or pick a genre and specialize.

What’s in store for FB in the future?

I just launched the sister site for Forgotten Bookmarks, which is It features just the recipes I find. I am hoping to team up with someone who can cook and take pictures of some of the recipes, as that is something that just isn't feasible for me. I'd also like to put together a book at some point.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Moonshadow said...

A book about bookmarks, I like. It would probably sit well on my coffee table with my new Bent Objects book. You should check
out his blog...

tori said...

I love FB! thanks for the interview, I'll be going over to check out the handwritten recipe site.

tori said...

Love FB thanks for the interview. Will be checking out the recipe site!