Monday, January 26, 2009

Wordsmith Word of the Day - Ex Libris

ex libris

(eks LEE-bris, LI-)

1. From the library of (a phrase inscribed in a book followed by the name of the book owner).
2. A bookplate.

From Latin ex libris (from the books), from ex- (from) + liber (book).

Novelist and Nobelist Anatole France once said, "Never lend books -- nobody ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are those which people have lent me." An ex libris inscription identifies the owner of a book, and supposedly prevents others from building their own libraries by borrowing. I've also seen bookplates that say "Stolen from the library of ..."
Typically an ex libris is placed on the inside cover or the front end paper. Earlier bookplates featured coats of arms. Like everything else, there are bookplate enthusiasts and collectors with their own societies, conferences, journals, blogs, and more.

"I found a copy of Mein Kampf with Hitler's ex libris bookplate."
Timothy W Ryback; Hitler's Secret Library; The Sunday Times (London, UK); Jan 11, 2009.

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