Despite consistent assertions that it’s in decline, bookmark industry stalwarts insist digital will not hurt its well-established traditional business strategies.
I’ve always hated dog-earring books. It’s one of those pet hates that sits up there with people who don’t use indicators when turning and Justin Bieber fans. This has meant that I’ve often turned to my trusty bookmark to keep my place – that trusty sentinel of opuscule-locationed memory. However, the bookmark is quickly becoming a product of the past.
In an industry that has existed since Gutenberg devised a way to avoid bending pages in his newly printed works, bookmarking faces its toughest period since the cardboard shortage of 1943. But while material shortages and cut-throat competition have always been the challenge in the bookmark industry, they’ve been surmountable. Come the dawn of the digital publishing age, the future of the bookmark and its traditional revenue structures has become one of survival.
While many have been predicting the end of the bookmark industry, David Octavo, owner of World Wide Bookmarks (WWB) and spokesperson for the International Bookmark Association, believes that this is a new beginning.
“I’ve heard all the arguments: they’re expensive to produce, they waste materials that could be used elsewhere, there’s no room for bookmarks in the new digital publishing world etc. All I can say is that’s a load of paper mulch! Can you imagine a world without bookmarks? How would people know where they were up to in a 1000-page book? And you can’t encourage people to dog-ear pages, it’s sacrilegious!”
Mr Octavo concedes that sales results have dropped dramatically since digital content and devices were introduced, but a combination of clever marketing and partnership promotions is keeping the industry going.
“It’s not that people don’t want bookmarks – it’s just that there is so much technology available vying for their attention that you have to work harder to compete. We need to change the way people USE bookmarks.”
While critics suggest that bookmark companies are spending more time and money attempting to force traditional products to fit into digital parameters, Mr Octavo believes that investment into digital bookmarking technology will make sure that the industry can keep up.
“We in the industry believe that by adapting traditional products to work with digital, we’ll achieve the same results – maybe even increase our profit margins! WWB have a partnership with a number of online distributors to feature our bookmarks on their readers. It’s using all the latest technology we could engineer. It’s pricey as hell but it will keep us in the game.”