The Meaning of Dog-Eared


There is a midwestern bookstore called Dog Eared Books. What a droll name! I visualized shelves of dusty used books, perhaps with a Trollope I’d missed, or a Barbara Pym biography. The proprietor would hunch over a tattered first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses , because he would be mentally rehearsing the part of Leopold Bloom for Bloomsday, next Wednesday, June 16.

But no, the store was bright and cheerful, and it was not a used bookstore. Nobody was reading Ulysses. I looked around, crestfallen. There were crisp new books everywhere, displays of romances with gaudy covers depicting couples who hated each other but would soon fall in love, and the latest literary fiction, including Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising.

A bookstore is a blessing for every town. There should be a bookstore in every town. But where were the dog-eared books? There were only four shelves of used books, all of which seemed to be by Maeve Binchy or Patricia Cornwell. They were in perfect condition, and that’s what I like, of course.

It is a clever name, but is it appropriate for a new bookstore? Let me know what you think!

From an old Merriam-Webster dictionary:

dog-ear – (in a book) the corner of a page folded back like a dog ear, as by careless use, or to mark a place’ to fold down a corner of a book

dog-eared – a dog-eared book.