Marking its presence!
The little bookmark, modest as it is, most often does not get the space it deserves. In an era of e-reading, it’s not surprising that bookmarks are struggling to survive the test of time.
Left behind in the obscurity of the pages, they are easily forgotten. A handful perhaps, picks them up and preserves them for posterity. To such a rare brigade belongs S Gangadharan.
Accruing bookmarks since 2008, he has over 2,000 of them now and counting. His collection is so wide and varied that it was not difficult for him to get a certificate from the ‘India Book of Records’ appreciating his collection.
“I was reading an article in a newspaper, while on a trip abroad, about Adolf Hitler’s bookmark being stolen. The article triggered in me an
interest in bookmarks and I thought ‘why not start collecting them?’,” says
Gangadharan, who works as a marketing manager in a publishing company, says his job entails him to travel a lot, both home and abroad. During these trips, he picks up books, and bookmarks in the process.
Leafing through his bookmarks can be quite enlightening. They include those in metal, leather and paper. Some are magnetic, some hand-made and others woven.
There are bookmarks made from Russian carpet, those with key phrases in Greek, Spanish, Italian and French; some with quotable quotes, those with soft toys attached and many more.
“The rare ones that I have include an Oxford dictionary advertisement. They don’t make these kinds anymore. I also have those with quotable quotes in Tamil, Malayalam and Arabic,” he adds.
Gangadharan picks these up from gift shops, book fairs, bookstores and publishers. Some of these collections are advertisements, but they are no less than any collectible.
Since a bookmark collector cannot crib about lack of space, there is always space for more. “A friend has given me as many as 100 bookmarks. I have some rare golden metallic ones as well,” he adds.
“I have collected bookmarks from the ‘Colombo Book Fair’ and ‘Abu Dhabi Book Fair’ too. I found a bookmark dictionary, which also has a small screen. Type a word and you can find the meaning,” he says Gangadharan knows each one of his bookmarks pretty well. “I don’t buy the same bookmark twice and therefore there is no repetition in my collection.”
Sometimes it is hard to fathom that a bookmark can be made from a certain kind of material. “Recently, I had gone for a wood exhibition in the City. I found a bookmark made from the outer layer of wood. Now, I have that too,” he says.
“It was while browsing through the ‘India Book of Records’ that I had a desire to see my collection in it too. The ‘Records’ have a class for collections. I had sent 10 different kinds of photographs of the bookmarks to the authorities and I received a certificate for it.
During the next edition, information about my collection will be published,” he says.
So far, Gangadharan has not found anybody with the same interest in Bangalore.
“While browsing through the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’, I discovered that there is somebody abroad who has 60,000 bookmarks with him,” he informs.
When reading books has become more of an exception than an avocation, such interests are hard to come by. “Traditional methods of reading are passe.
This is an electronic world and reading is limited to old-timers,” he rues. But Gangadharan has other plans too. “I have already approached the ‘Bangalore Book Fair’ authorities to display my bookmarks,” he says. And that would be nothing less of a page-turner!