Bookplates are autographed stickers authors sometimes send out in lieu of being able to personally sign a book. When sent to individuals, the bookplates can be personalized. When sent to a bookseller, they're usually just autographed.
Why are bookplates useful as marketing tools? It's a great way of showing readers you'd like to connect with them more personally while acknowledging that it's impossible to be everywhere. The reader gets something not everyone has, and is happy. The author on the other hand can make sales that they otherwise wouldn't get.
How is that?
Books are not essentials (much as it pains me to admit that). They usually aren't impulse buy items. But when an author provides an extra, something that won't be available for long - like a signed bookplate - it can become something to pick up now rather than later.
Several authors have sent me bookplates over the past few years. I affix the bookplates to the books using a sticker on the front that explains there's an extra (Comes with an AUTOGRAPHED Bookplate!). We can't put the bookplates in the books (ie, stick them to the front cover) and just sliding them inside doesn't point out that there's something different about them, and they could easily fall out.
So, based on my experience with them, here are some tips for authors sending bookplates,
1. if possible, address them to a particular person who will do something with them (you don't want your time/effort/money wasted because the person who gets the bookplates doesn't know what to do with them or doesn't care enough to do something with them).
2. only send between 10-20. You don't want every book to have it or they lose impact (ie: I don't need to buy this now, there are a lot of them with the bookplate).
3. if your bookplate relates to all of your books, rather than just one, they can be used on your next title as well, if they're not all used for your current book.
Now for readers... do you like bookplates? I find authors have great designs on them, so even though I don't paste them inside my books I like to collect them when I can. Do you feel they add something to the book purchase?
* As an addendum, if your bookplate has your website on it, you can also use them for advertising purposes, much like how authors use bookmarks (ie, you can hand them out to people at book signings and conventions).