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How to Inscribe a Book | The Distilled Man

Hi! I'm Kyle Ingham from The Distilled Man.

And up next I'm going to talk about how

to inscribe a book and why it's so

important to always include a

personalized message whenever you give a book as a gift.

You ever pull a book off the shelf and you crack it open for

the first time in a long time and you

see that old handwritten inscription

from the person who gave it to you?

Now I'm not talking about the illegible

autograph from Mr famous pants who you

who you saw when you queued up for three hours

and in Barnes and Noble that one day.

I'm talking about the old dusty copy of

Catch-22 that your uncle gave you.

You were 16, it was that summer you were learning

how to drive stick, you just started shaving regularly for the first time.

And your uncle decides,

"Hey, maybe this guy's ready to read some real fiction."

Giving someone a book with a personalized message inside

is one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to somebody.

So why inscribe books that you gave as gifts?

Presumably if you're giving someone a book it's

because you've already read it yourself.

You really enjoyed it and knowing what

you know about that person you really

think they would enjoy it as well or

because you know a lot about that person

you did some research, you found this

book and you really think it might be up their alley.

The point is, giving someone a book is

one of the more personal gifts you can

give but if you don't put a personal

message inside it you're kind of missing an opportunity.

Okay, to use a really bad analogy, it's sort of

like sending someone an attachment via email,

a really special attachment that

you think is really great you really

want them to see, without including

anything in the body of the email.

Now imagine that that attachment was

supposed to be their birthday present.

Seems even worse right?

And kind of impersonal.

For the recipient

a book inscription is like a dusty little time capsule.

It reminds them of a specific

point in their life or a specific person.

And it takes them back.

And it makes the book more than just a

collection of paper and cardboard and glue and

fabric and whatever else the books are

made out of, and it makes it a keepsake.

Something that's special.

So when should you inscribe a book?

Books have been getting inscribed as long

as people have been giving books as gifts.

So I really think that any time you give someone a

book as a gift you should inscribe it.

You know, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and birthdays, graduations, retirement.

Basically any time you give a book as a gift

write a personal message inside.

The recipient doesn't even need to be able to read the inscription.

In fact a lot of interesting inscriptions actually are

ones written in baby books,

where obviously the person knows that

the baby's not be able to read it, but

years from now they would pull

out this book and its really gonna be a

nice keepsake and remembrance.

Now, the only time you may want to avoid

inscribing the book is if you're buying

something like a college textbook for

someone and you know that just based on

the sheer volume of the books and the

type of book that they're going to get

rid of it at the end of the semester.

But in this case you actually may want to

have the student inscribe it and

inscribe it to the person who's going to get it next.

And this is actually a

really funny example I found of that

happening where the student wrote in the

book to the next person who's going to

get the textbook and it's sort of like a

little chain letter that will go on and on and hopefully.

Okay, but what if inscribing the book messes it up?

Well, there's a couple of naysayers out

there. One group says,

"You know I'd ever want to inscribe a book I give as a gift

because what if the recipient wants to

take it back and they don't like it?"

And the other group of naysayers says,

"Well, you know you should never inscribe a book you're giving as a gift especially

if it's a kind of an older book or a

rare book, because it'll ruin its resale value."

Well, I think both of those ideas are kind of crazy.

Is it possible that the

recipient is not gonna like your gift

and that they want to take it back?

Yeah that's a possibility, but that

doesn't mean that you should leave it

devoid of all personalization.

Worst-case they can take the book to a

used bookstore and drop it off.

In fact, I'm actually amazed at all the used

books that I see with cute little

inscriptions in there that clearly

someone didn't treasure enough to keep the book.

On a positive note, those

inscribed books can be a real

treasure for people in used bookstores.

You come across these books that have these

really interesting or really unique

inscriptions in them and it's kind

of a window into other people's lives.

And it could be almost more interesting than fiction.

Now as far as the resale value, if you're

buying books for a collector who's really

going to use this as sort of financial

investment, maybe you should

just focus on buying them thoughtful

books and not worry about buying them

rare books, because at the end of the day

your gift really should be about getting

something uniquely for them.

And it's not gonna be a special if you know they're

just going to kind of see it as an

investment and then resell it two years later.

And who cares if the book's not

going to be worth a ton of money and

again, that's not the point.

Or if you really think that they're going to

still sell it no matter what, you can use

a cheat that I'll mention in just a moment.

So what should you write in your book inscription?

Now, a book inscription is all

about adding a personal touch to what is

already hopefully a personal gift.

But it can also serve a practical purpose and

the tone of the inscription can vary

widely depending on the person, depending

on the situation, depending on the book.

From very serious to humorous

to the downright weird, sometimes.

But regardless, most inscriptions do one or more of the following things.

One, document when the book was given and who gave it.

Two, explain why this particular book is

meant for the recipient.

Three, say what the giver thought was special about the book.

Four, wish the recipient well on a specific occasion.

Five, provide some life advice.

Six, echo an idea from the book, sometimes using a quote.

Seven, serve as a time capsule

for posterity, especially when

the giver or the recipient are no longer with us.

And eight, contain enigmatic riddles and random musings.

So where should you inscribe a book?

Well traditionally it would be on the top of

the title page or on the inside cover.

But really the point is to look for a

page early on in the book that doesn't

have a lot of other clutter on it so

that the inscription will stand out.

So like in this version of Great Expectations I could probably do it on

the inside cover here.

I wouldn't do it on this page because it's got so much clutter.

But probably even the next page.

This title page would be perfect because

it's sort of at the beginning of the

book and people are likely to read it.

And there's plenty of real estate here, less clutter.

So if you think the recipient's really going to be bothered

by the fact that you've written in the book,

you can do a cheat where you add

the inscription on a separate piece of stationery inside.

And this could be a good option for that collector too,

if you think they may try to resell the book later.

Now the problem with the insert is if

the person doesn't mean to hold on to it

there's a much higher likelihood that it

could fall out accidentally and be lost

over the years.

The inscribed book as greeting card.

Now, I haven't seen this in person but I've heard that some

forward-thinking folks are starting to

use inscribed books as greeting cards.

So it's kind of cool idea if you think

about it, you know, instead of buying a

card that has someone else's words in it,

you're buying a whole book that has

someone else's words in it. But those

words could be a classic and that could

be a book that the person really enjoys.

And you write inside the book the same

way that you would inside a card, but now

instead of it being a Hallmark card that

they toss in a drawer or toss in a box, they

can put it on the shelf and they can

admire it for a lifetime.

So to wrap it up, if you get a book for someone

please do write a personalized message in there.

It really is not going to take more than a few minutes, but the person

may appreciate it for a lifetime.

Hope you enjoyed this video.

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Thanks again for watching and until next time.