Once again, write in books that aren’t yours

Back in 2008, we wrote a raving review of 3M’s Sheer Colors Post-It Notes. These transparent sticky notes were amazing because they made it simple to write in books that aren’t yours or in books that you plan to sell or pass along to someone else. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, 3M pulled the clear Post-Its from the market and we haven’t been able to find them in years.

In a promotion for the Organization of Moms program Avery recently launched, they sent me a box full of their products that they think are useful for moms. I haven’t really had time to learn about the program yet, but I did look through the box of freebies and discovered that Avery now makes clear sticky notes! And, best of all, the Avery NoteTabs brand has tabs so I can quickly find where I’ve made notes in the text:

The longer 3″ x 7.5″ NoteTabs are perforated in four places so you can adjust the length to fit your needs. Shown in the image are the 3″ x 3.5″ ones, and I used a highlighter and Sharpie on them. Pencil also works well when writing on the NoteTabs, but ballpoint pens aren’t stellar.

I really like the Avery clear NoteTabs, and wanted to pass news of them along to other bibliophiles — especially bibliophiles who rely on marginalia and are therefore reluctant to check books out from the library, borrow them from friends, or get rid of books after they’ve read them. Three cheers for the return of clear sticky notes! It is weird how excited I am about them.

37 Comments for “Once again, write in books that aren’t yours”

  1. posted by CarolH on

    Thanks so much for sharing this info. I have just a couple packages left of the 3-M sheer Post-Its. What sounds really good about the Avery Tabs is the perforations. I’ll be looking for them right away.

  2. posted by Glenda Worrell on

    I’m a scribbler and a voracious user of standard Post-Its…so I LOVE this product! Thanks for digging through the box!

  3. posted by jen on

    Transparent sticky notes are a great idea. I would use them in my planner which doesn’t have much room for the regular post-it notes that often cover up my schedule.

    Pet peeve- people who make notes, underline and high-light in library books. These transparent sticky notes could solve that issue. Hopefully, they aren’t too pricey.

  4. posted by deb on

    I saw these at Office Depot the other day, and about 10 minutes ago I was kicking myself for not buying them.

  5. posted by Marci on

    LOVE this idea! I’ve been using sticky bookmark tabs, but they are too small and lose their “stickiness” with repeated removal to see what is underneath. I will definitely be looking for these in my local office supply. Thanks for the tip.

  6. posted by Bobbi on

    Odd question, but what book is that in the examples? I’m really want to change my morning and evening routine to be more productive and would love to know what that book is! Anyone know?

    This is a great idea especially for library books and college students. Though, I was one of those college kids who searched for used books with the most notes since it helped me out in the courses.

  7. posted by [email protected] on

    I think I’m in love! Great for taking notes without passing them on to the next reader at the used book store. 🙂

  8. posted by Lori on

    These would be great for writing in college textbooks that you want to sell later.

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  10. posted by shalin on

    Hooray! 🙂 I think these would be a great gift to any college student…


  11. posted by DemMom on

    Looks like a great product. I can’t help laughing at the fact that “Get ready for bed” is listed under “Before Bed Routine.” Wow. If you can’t remember that, you are disorganized.

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Bobbi — It’s my book: Unclutter Your Life in One Week

    @DemMom — Actually, for people who have a difficult time keeping their clothes off the floor, it’s very important that they get ready for bed before they’re tired. You remember to hit the clothes basket or hang things up on a “not yet dirty” hook if you still have energy and the lights are on. I strongly recommend in the book that everyone get ready for bed at least an hour before they plan to go to sleep.

  13. posted by Michelle @HomeStagingPro on

    What a great idea. I can also use these clear sticky notes in my client files, which sometimes can get overwhelmingly large. Thanks!

  14. posted by L. on

    I am not an ascetic, but we have CONTINENTS of single-use plastic literally floating around our major oceans. Can you in good conscience advocate for the use of more single-use plastic?


  15. posted by Erin Doland on

    @L — A new book requires trees, glue, ink, and the materials needed for the cover. Then there are the resources for production, the resources necessary for transporting the heavier books, and the energy used to store the book so that it doesn’t rot in a warehouse.

    In comparison to a few NoteTabs (average maybe 10 used for every book), the more environmentally friendly thing to do is use sticky notes.

    So yes, in good conscience, I can advocate that someone use NoteTabs over buying a new book.

    Life in the modern world is full of trade-offs. Everything you do impacts the environment. The amount of electrical energy used to power the computer you used to leave your comment is likely more damaging to the environment than using 10 NoteTabs. And don’t forget the deadly chemicals inside your computer that can’t be recycled and will eventually be treated as hazardous waste. You are clearly choosing to damage the environment; we all are. We just have to be responsible for how we do it and how much.

  16. posted by Splomo on

    Interesting point, L. Thanks for that reminder.

    It may be just a matter of time until a manufacturer brings adhesive notes out of paper vellum (using organic cortton) or rice paper to the marketplace. I imagine a sufficient demand could be found or created for archival-quality, non-plastic, impermanent book notes.

    Cheers to useful things that compost (eventually).

  17. posted by Sara on

    Wow. As a teacher and grad student, this made my day. Not only do I spend way too much on textbooks, I feel bad when my students spend money on them too. Marginalia help students study, but most are reluctant to write in their books when they plan to sell them (I don’t blame them—I am too!) Previously I would use Post-it Flags or make copies of important pages (more clutter!). Thanks for showing us a great solution.

  18. posted by Ris on

    I love marginalia and am always writing in books so these sound great for loaner books. Thanks for the info!

  19. posted by chacha1 on

    I don’t approve of people who write in books, but I’m not a big fan of single-use plastic, either.

    If there’s anyone else who truly feels the same way, here is my solution. When I’m reading something and come across a piece I want to remember, I dogear the bottom of the page just a bit. Then after finishing the book, I get out my reading journal and copy in whatever the passage or phrase was that I want to remember.

    Then the book is done, still clean, and ready to pass on. With no bits of paper or plastic to discard.

    And no, I don’t dogear the pages of books I don’t own.

  20. posted by chacha1 on

    sorry, the above came off crankier than intended. 🙂 you are all perfectly welcome to mark up your books … as long as I don’t find them in the used-book store someday and take them home thinking they’re clean.

  21. posted by L. on

    I don’t think the trade-off is buying another book versus marking up the book or single-use plastic. OF COURSE we all damage the environment, but we attempt to mitigate our damage. For example the electricity in my computer is purchased from a green-energy provider, so at least I’m not burning coal to get it. True that the chemicals inside my computer are terrible, and to that end I attempt to limit the number of computers I purchase and so on. But I think we can all agree that we can mitigate our environmental footprint with some reasonable behavior modification, as well. Are we really SO DESPERATE to mark up books that we need to buy more books or purchase plastic packaged in more plastic delivered on trucks from factories producing waste far away? Is a paper sticky-note used in line SO MUCH more inferior?

  22. posted by bobbin on

    My sister the librarian would so disapprove of the idea of any kind of post-it in a library book. They leave a sticky residue that eventually damages the paper. That may be fine for a short lived paperback, or even a text book, but not for a longer lasting hardcover book.
    What’s wrong with plain paper bookmarks that you can write notes on, and remove easily before returning the book? Do we need to run out and buy a new/different product for every task?

  23. posted by Anita on

    I’ve only ever highlighted or marked up textbooks (1) I owned and (2) wanted to keep. I still have them and I find it useful to have the mark-ups whenever I go back to them for reference.

    For books I didn’t own, I used paper Post-its. For books I owned but wanted to sell I used pencil and, before selling them, went through the book with an eraser and also copied down any passages I wanted to remember.

    This system worked for me, and I guess it was also more eco-friendly, though it never occurred to me at the time. Not really advocating against clear post-its, just sharing what served me well.

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  25. posted by Ginger on

    Those are pretty neat, but I’m going to stick to my old routine. I usually use index cards for jotting down notes and they also serve the purpose as a bookmark. It works well for me, they never fell out, and they are cheap.

  26. posted by mamabeck on

    I LOVE this!
    …wonder if our store has them, yet?!?!? 😉

  27. posted by Mari on

    Thank you for sharing….I love these tabs. I too have been using the smaller sticky tabs, which are difficult to write notes on. Thank you also for giving the information about the book, I was curious and wanted to know more about it. I’ll be checking them both out!

  28. posted by Robin on

    Ginger, I do the same thing. If I’m reading a book that I’ll want notes on I use an index card as a bookmark and take notes as I go.

    Then I type up my notes ASAP so I can’t lose them!

  29. posted by Wanda on

    I have been reading more books from the library (great for my budget and brain). Some readers have corrected the typos (in pencil). Once I even had to correct the character name.
    I wish we had clear the post its when I was in college. One of my class mates forgot his book during lecture and turned my text into a collage of highlighted color. Why he didn’t just highlight the less important part would have saved a lot of ink.

    Oh, and by the way, I hate dog ears on a book. Can’t find a scrap of paper or memorize the page number?

  30. posted by Robert on

    I just write in the book.

    Don’t have to find postits which saves time, don’t have to go to store and search for postits which saves time, don’t have to buy postits which saves money, don’t have to store postits which saves room, don’t have to remove postits when giving away book to salvation arm which saves time, and I’m probably leaving out a dozen other savings of not using clear postits for that purpose.

    It’s no wonder to me that they didn’t catch on! If you like them, be sure to buy a million, cause the product will surely die again.

  31. posted by finallygettingtoeven.com on

    These are fabulous! I have not noticed them in the stores as of yet but i can assure you on my next trip i will be checking them out. Thanks so much for the heads up!

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  33. posted by The Organization of Moms on

    Thanks for all the kind words about Avery NoteTabs and all the great ideas. We’re pretty excited about this new product, and glad to hear all of you are too. As we were developing the product, one of the biggest opportunities we uncovered was to protect books from marginalia, so these were a perfect fit.

    Anyway, thanks for all the kudos and ideas.

    Jackie & May from the Avery Organization Of Moms

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