Bookmarks are Reader Testimonials

You can hear the nay-sayers when it comes to web bookmarks and blogrolls. Not everything from the old, retro Internet has become obsolete.

Source: Modern SEO: The end of social bookmarking websites – BloggingConsult

But… are they right? Is keeping a list of your favourite links, the links you still visit to actually read, a bad idea? I don’t think so.

Of course, I try not to blog for SEO and Google in general. The very idea of doing all of this for a mindless machine is unappealing. Even if I don’t have many readers, or get feedback in comments or make fame and fortune through my sites… at least I’m doing something I really care about, my own way.

Back to the bookmarks!

People used to work at getting links from other sites. There were link exchanges, web rings and assorted other plans and schemes. Now Google put the scare into most people… duplicated content, too many links. etc. Google scares people because they want to be scared. In fact, Google works for us, the readers of blogs. Google wants us to find good content because then Google can sell more ads based on the people using Google and finding what they were looking for.

If we each keep a list of sites were really do like and find useful, we help our readers and we even help Google.

Each bookmark and blogroll link is a testimonial, a recommendation, from readers (real people, not machines).

I still look for a list of resources and links when I visit other sites. Isn’t that the point of visiting a niche site especially? You want to find information, resources and new ideas. Other resources are important.

Even if you have found a niche topic and you are the only resource there are still sideline resources, like supplies, maintenance and so on. Sidelines are great opportunities for you to run affiliate links for Amazon (for example) products/ books/ etc which you don’t offer yourself. Sidelines are a way to show readers you really know what you are writing about too. You can offer a complete package to readers of your site and keep them on your site by giving them all the information they need. Google will like you for it too.

Don’t think you can’t link to your competition either. You show confidence in doing so. Plus, you make yourself part of that group of well done, successful and popular sites in your topic or niche. Send a note to the other sites. Do not ask for a link exchange, be smart and offer them something they need: content and ideas. Interview them and post it to your site. Guest post (but make sure you have a great idea they really will want).

You can build your authority and readership with bookmarks and by having people bookmark you in return. But, the best are those who do it because they want to, not those done as an automated link exchange or some kind of deal about linking back.

Sincere recommendations and testimonials are the word of mouth you want people to hear. Blogrolls and bookmarks are not dead.

Real Book Lovers Make their own Bookmarks

bookmarkI became more interested in bookmarks after my friend, Deanna, asked to use one of my drawings for a bookmark she wanted to print out for the First Annual Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention. Before that I never put a lot of thought into bookmarks. I had a few, I lost a few and a few were mangled when they fell out of my book and into the depths of my purse. Most of the time I stuck something in my page, whatever was around: a restaurant napkin, a store receipt, or a candy wrapper.

Sometimes I turned down the corner of the page I was reading, at the top. But, I didn’t really feel good about marking my page that way. Mainly because it seemed to be contributing to the future dog-earred look the book would eventually get it others continued bending it’s pages that way when they read it after me.

I did find a really nice bookmark which someone had made, not the conventional long, slender cardboard bookmark. Instead this bookmark was stiff paper, folded over to cover the top corner of the book’s pages. It was like a page cap, decorated too. But, I thought this would make a fairly heavy bookmark. For me, it was too likely to wind up falling off and being misplaced somewhere. Plus, it wouldn’t do much to save my place in the book.

When I read Les Miserables (a lengthy, heavy book) I picked up an elastic which had been used on a small box of chocolates I was given for my birthday. (From my hair stylist, Megan). It wasn’t just a plain rubber band. Shiny and golden and just the right length to stretch over the pages of the book to rest in the spine between the folds of pages. The gold elastic worked very well but I retired it when I finished the book.

I’ve seen clever bookmarks made from envelope corners, repurposing them rather than putting them into the recycling bin right away. I think this idea needs some engineering work though. I can’t see the corner of an envelope staying on the pages of my book for long. This may be great for people who don’t get into bookpacking (those who keep their book in one place rather than those take it on the road, the bus, the coffee shop, etc.)

I like using whatever bookmark the book store is giving away when I buy new books. I’ve had some nice ones, depending on which books were lately being promoted. I had one for Dragonology. I was sorry to see that one get a bit wrecked from a rainy day. It was inside my purse, in the book, but the rain leaked in and got everything wet. I have one from a website SmileyWorld. But I bought that one.

It doesn’t seem right to buy a bookmark when there are so many available for free, so may ways to repurpose something else as a bookmark and so many ways (simple ways) you can make your own bookmark.

‘Why pay a dollar for a bookmark? Why not use the dollar for a bookmark?’ – Steven Spielberg


Bookmark Making Ideas

Bookpacking is Such a Great Word

winter readingI first heard of the word, bookpacking, in the Suite101 post which I have linked to below. I think it is great to have an actual, understandable, word for something I have been doing since I learned to read.

In the bookpacking post the writer combines bookpacking with exercise. I haven’t always done it that way, at least not deliberately. I do take the bus, walk along downtown, go shopping or even take a day trip or road trip. I always pack a book with me (and my camera for the past several years).

Bookpacking is such a great word.

Are you one of the people who typically carries at least one book around with you, where ever you go? Even if you might not get a chance to settle in somewhere and have the alone, or quiet time to read… do you always have a book, just in case? I do.

I don’t think you can take an eReader on a bookpacking excursion. It might get bumped and banged around, it could get wet or you may not have enough battery power to keep the lights on. Besides, there are always times when the old reliable paperback is just what you need.

The Elements of Successful Bookpacking

First, the book you want to read. Not just any book you happened to pick. You need a good book and a book you are in the mood to read. You could pick a book which is well written and seems to have a great story… but you just aren’t in the mood to read it for some reason. So, you need the right book at the right time.

Second, you need something to carry your book and other accumulated gear around with you. These days we often carry around more stuff in order to be green. I keep a backpack with cloth bags for grocery shopping, sometimes a reusable coffee mug too. The mug doesn’t work out so well if you stop at a second place before you have washed it out.

My backpack gives me space to stash my purse inside it too. If I’m on a longer trip I carry a map book, my camera, paper and pens and assorted other standard stuff (for me).

Make sure whatever you use to carry around your stuff is easy to carry around. Don’t pick something which is already a bit heavy, even before you pack it up. It’s only going to get heavier.

Next up is location. Not everyone can read just anywhere. I like semi-quiet. A little distraction with people watching is nice too. I tend to pick coffee shops. I really like enjoying a coffee while I read. Other nice places are libraries, museums, restaurants… pretty much any place with a comfortable chair, table and a niche that blocks out noise if it’s a busy place.

Assorted Extras

Bookmarks. Of course, you can turn down the top of a page. But this contributes to making books dog-earred. Meanwhile you can use anything slim enough as a bookmark. You could even use a real, actual bookmark.

Those real on-the-go sort of bookpackers might want a portable chair. However, this isn’t practical for the added weight of hauling it around yourself. For those with a vehicle to haul a portable chair around for them, it seems a bit redundant when you already have a nicely padded chair in the vehicle. But, it could be nice if you are on a bicycle or motorbike and want to take a break to read in the great outdoors. (Even then it occurs to me that a picnic blanket would be a better choice for it’s weight and multi-purposeness).

One thing I can not do is read on a moving vehicle. So, you may find yourself enjoying to read on the bus, ferry, and so on. There really are endless great locations to pull out your book and read a few pages or a few chapters if you have the time. If you do discover you can’t read on a moving vehicle either, just put your book away and try to look off into the distance for awhile. You may need to abandon the vehicle for at least a short time. Stop off at a coffee shop and read awhile, outside the vehicle or while the vehicle is parked.

On a Side Note…

There are a few times and instances when you shouldn’t bring out a book and read. Your brother may not think well of you if you bring a book to his hockey game and sit in the arena with your nose stuck in a book, not really watching his hockey game more than the odd quick glance up. Every once in awhile this comes up in my family. But, I am the only true bookpacker in the group. Still, its good to remember that not everyone is into bookpacking.


Bookpacking Combines Travel With Reading | Suite101  by Nelson Shogren

Bookmark at the Lost and Found

Laura Page, in her blog Literary Legs, wrote about bookmarks and finding interesting things in books which she forgot she had once used as a bookmark. She likes to buy a bookmark too. I do as well, but find them a bit expensive for just a piece of cardboard. When you think of all the free stuff you can stick in a book to mark your page it seems a bit extravagant to spend $5 on a fancy bookmark. You could buy a latte instead!

I’ve found some interesting things people have left in books when I buy a secondhand book or a thrift store book. Most recent was a ticket (never used) to a classical music concert which took place in Toronto.

What have you found in a book, used as a bookmark?

Think of a situation where something really unusual is used as a bookmark. Write about it. Is it lost or found?

To Bookmark or Not to Bookmark

When you’re reading a book do you mark it with a real bookmark or do you stick random things in them?

I like having a bookmark but they tend to wander off. I had one I especially liked but it fell apart in my purse. First the tassel unraveled and then the cardboard part had several inner purse traffic accidents. I didn’t throw it away, it’s in a drawer or some other purse, somewhere. Right now I’m using a freebie bookmark with the promotional ad copy from the store where I bought my last new book. I like it cause I won’t feel bad when it gets lost or wears out. Yet, it feels like a real bookmark instead of folding over the corner of the page I’m reading, sticking a napkin in it or some other random, appropriately flat object.

Now the other question, bookmark related, sort of… have you ever used your book to squish a bug? Emergencies count. Have you ever squished a bug inside the pages of your book? I have done that. I was reading and quite happy, not bothering the bugs of the world. A little flying thing began to crawl over the page I was reading. So, when it got the the end of the print I closed the book, firmly and made sure to press it all over the bug area. So there is at least one book out there that has the carcass off a bug. I wonder if anyone noticed. It was a very small, delicate bug after all.

Fix Your Site’s Image for Social Network Sharing

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared?

Try a little test of your site. Go to your front page and add your site to StumbleUpon, or some other social network – or just bookmark your own site. Now go look at the listing in your bookmarks or on StumbleUpon. How does it look?

What does the title say? Is it your site name or some promotional blurb? Does your site name show up at all? If not, read about meta tags and start using them!

Does an image show up with your site listing? Not everything will use an image, StumbleUpon does. Do you like the image that shows up for your site? Does it represent your site well? Will people want to read more? Does it give the impression of a good, well run site or does it look like splog?

Now, does a description show up with the site title? In bookmarks you aren’t going to have a description but the odd place will take the description from your meta tags and add it to your site listing. When I was an editor at the Dmoz web directory I did see site descriptions come up with any site I reviewed to list.

If your site title, image and description come up with just a sales pitch do you think you are going to get new readers?

When someone (like myself) clicks your site to list it with their bookmarks, to share it on a social network, favourites or sites they found interesting what does that listing look like?

Are you giving yourself a spammy impression without meaning to? You can’t change how your site appears when someone lists you on their own StumbleUpon account. But, you can be proactive and make sure your meta tags are not spammy.

I recently found a site I liked. I added it to my sites on StumbleUpon, thinking I was doing a good thing to share a good site with others and give the site itself some extra promotion. How do you think I felt when I looked at my StumbleUpon account and saw the site listed as “FREE ebook… blah blah blah…” Even the site image was an amateurish text ad for this FREE ebook. It looked like garbage. No one is likely to click on that link. I wouldn’t. So now I have this garbage looking thing in my list of sites on StumbleUpon. Possibly I will just delete it. I don’t want trash in my Stumbled sites. How would you feel if this were your site I am now deleting? Wouldn’t you rather go in and fix your meta tags?

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared? Why waste my time and your own?

Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention

Do you have a bookmark collection? Do you use bookmarks at all or do you just turn down a corner of the page you are reading and close the book on it (the dog-earred method)? I like having a bookmark. I do buy one now and then. But, being shoved into my purse, moved from backpack to purse and then forgotten on the nightstand awhile, a bookmark tends to take some abuse and get lost. Most of the time I use the folded corner to mark the page I’m reading. But, I really like the idea of having a bookmark collection. Now, I just need to find whatever stragglers are left.

Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention: Bookmarks have been in existence for as long as there have been books, and for the bookmark collector their meaning goes beyond their mundane purpose of marking a position within a book. Made out of materials that vary from paper to precious gems, they are pieces of art, souvenirs, craft samplers, time capsules, and cultural flotsam. Although their prices vary from free to thousands of dollars, collectors ascribe value based on personal meaning, judgment of beauty, and fit within a series.

The convention is planned for February 20 – 21st at 8:AM, PST.