The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Label your books

sephiepoo's picture

Label your books

Hi all,

I just wanted to share a reminder and a lesson learned: please put your name, and some sort of identifier in each of your books, and make a catalog or database of all of your books.

My home was effectively broken into and all of my books (including all my cookbooks) and entire music library amongst other things were stolen last weekend.  I hadn't ever actually put my name in each of my books because I abhor the idea of writing in a book that I dearly love, but now I'm paying the price.  I'd guessed that whoever stole my property was going to try to sell it (classical cds, cookbooks, scifi/fantasy books) at the huge Half Price Books nearby.

DF and I happened to be passing by, and on a spur of the moment decided to stop in and try to find me a new cookbook to make me feel better about this past week.  I happened to poke around my favourite sections and see a cookbook I knew I had owned.  Picked it up and flipped through it, and there was the business card of my podiatrist in CT, still used as a bookmark! We hunted down a manager and the on-site police officer immediately, to show them.

However, because I cannot conclusively (ie point to my name in the book) prove that each of the books we found belong to me, but they are only possible since I once owned them and the date they were priced matches the timeline, their legal dept will have to sort through it.  We even found one that has my handwritten recipes in it, but because my name isn't in it, it's inconclusive.

Please, please take the time to write your name in your books or stick a label on the cover, since books cannot be resold without a cover. Our beloved cookbooks unfortunately have a very high turnover at the used bookstores, and as we all know, can be very pricey to replace.


crunchy's picture

Sephie, what a horrible thing to go through! I hope you get at least some of the books back.


flournwater's picture

Well, at least your local police have some sort of lead (however small) on who might have done the dirty deed.  I'd hate to think that a savy book store proprietor wouldn't know something about the person from whom the book was purchased.

Best of luck on recovering your property or, at the very least, seeing justice done with respect to the perpetrator.

I'm much like you.  To my mind, books are almost sacred items.  I've always felt guilty about writing in or on any book.  Even in college, I had to abandon my personal ethics on marking books  -  it was very difficult to do.

I've found that simply writing my name (or other ID marking) on the unbound raw edges of the pages of my books when they're closed works pretty well.  No amount of effort, short of seriously damaging or destroying the pages, will eradicate those ID markings.

mattie405's picture

I got in the habit of marking my books years ago when my sister in law had a habit of borrowing things (mostly cookbooks) and then claim them as her own.....many family arguments ensued because I couldn't prove they were mine at that time, I too had a thing about writing in my books. That is until I started turning to page 50 in every book I had and those I bought from then on...........on page 50 of every book I have, written in permanent ink are my initials, center of the page as close to the binding as I can manage. The look on her face was priceless when at a family function at her place  I spotted a book I knew was mine and I asked her about it, in her characteristic loud voice she started telling everyone that I obviously had some kind of mental problem because I was always accusing her of taking books from my home....and everyone knew she "would NEVER take anything that didn't belong to her", my mother in law (her mother) asked me how I knew the particular book was mine and then opened it and said "your name isn't inside here", I told her to turn to page 50 and look near the binding, and there in my handwritting were my initals for all to see. I think my poor mother in law was more embarrassed by it all than her daughter but the next week my mother in law came by with a whole box full of my missing books. So find a place in all of your books, make it consistant and mark each and every one of them. I chose to do it inside a page because often there is a blank page in the front that most people would write their name on but that page can be simply torn out with no real effect on the book, but how many are actualy going to go thru a book they are taking to see if your name is buried inside somewhere, especially is it is small and almost hidden.

ehanner's picture


It sounds like the store isn't interested in finding your stolen property and in fact is providing a source for thieves to unload stolen merchandise. If the police won't pressure the store to make it right, I would contact the local TV station and try to get some light shining on this "fencing operation". Stand up and make some noise.


sephiepoo's picture

Great ideas about putting your initials on a specific page that only you know - I plan on doing that too.  DF wanted to surprise me with a custom rubber ink stamp with my name on it, so that'd be fun.

Eric, absolutely.  The store is going to get a comprehensive book and cd list from me which will also be going to the police as soon as I can speak with the detective assigned to my case. Cataloguing replacement values of 300+ cds and 700+ pieces of music along with the rest of the drama this week has taken all of my energy. I'd only given the police some of the big ticket book items, which they didn't bother listing in the original report :(

I'm meeting with 4 attorneys next week, plus the tenant's union and housing crisis center. Let me see what they say about this entire situation before I try to go to any media :) But definitely, if they become unwilling to help (the store has been really nice so far, but it's legal issues right now) then maybe the media would be a good source.  It's a completely insane story as is! Every lawyer has just guffawed in shock so far

ehanner's picture

The store is a willing participant in the home robbery scheme. They are acting nice now while they profit by selling your personal items.I would act now. Don't wait for your things to be gone. Then you don't have any recourse and a lawyer won't be able to get your things back if the police won't help. The fear of having the store investigated publicly as a fence for home robbery might encourage the store owner to give you your items that you think are yours, back to you.


Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

I have always written my name with a permanent marker inside every book I loan out.  It does seem to help get people to return me stuff.  But... I have never thought of being burgled for a book.  Moving from the high-crime, drug-driven scene around Seattle, I had never heard of anyone stealing cook books.  Makes sense though...if you have enough,..and they aren't the least bit traceable.  And totally free.   I have photo CD's (one is in a safety deposit box) of everything of "value" that we own, but that sorta stuff is not documented.  Our development last week had a sophisticated break in, but it was the "usual stuff"... money, jewelry, electronics.  Yes...the police eyebrows should at least rise, about your second-hand bookstore.    We live in a very sad