Monday, November 23, 2009

Robin K. Blum - In My Book®

Every product has a story behind it, a person who dreamed up the idea and made it a reality.

When I spotted this charming, pen-and-ink bookmark/greeting card for sale in the Westport Public Library, I already knew a snippet of its history, recognizing the card as the creation of one of my Facebook friends, a woman named Robin K. Blum (above) from Brooklyn, NY. 

Curious to learn more, I emailed her.  Not surprisingly, I discovered that Robin’s overnight success was more than ten years in the making.

Although Robin has worked in the creative sector since ’72, spending her early career doing stage lighting for a variety of dance companies and most of the 90’s being a jack-of-all-trades at children’s book publisher Kane/Miller, she had never run her own business until In My Book®.

Like many late-blooming entrepreneurs, Robin started small.  The precursors of In My Book® were a few handmade bookmarks given to friends and relatives on their birthdays.  Illustrating the cards herself, Robin hit upon the name In My Book® in the shower.  As the idea developed and the bookmark expanded into a greeting card, the concept and format of In My Book® was born. 

Soon Robin decided she needed a more versatile and talented illustrator than herself.  Enter Meredith Hamilton. The two women, who turned out to live less than a mile away from each other, immediately hit it off.  Together they've created a line of 15 literary-oriented greeting cards that, complete with envelopes, perforate to become bookmarks and sell for $3.95 each. The first In My Book® cards were sold in May 2000.

Sounds like an easy business to start, huh?

Not really.  “It was an uphill battle,” Robin says.  She had to find the right paper, the proper die-cut and perforation, and a printer who could handle everything within her budget.  No easy feat. The timing also didn’t work in her favor.  First came September 11th, then the gradual decline of independent bookstores, her primary vendor.

The learning curve also included the major revelation that no one was going to do her marketing for her.  At trade shows Robin discovered it wasn’t enough to have an inviting booth and hand out catalogs, particularly with a product that nobody had ever seen or thought they needed.  (At right is Nancy Pearl, "America's most-beloved librarian," sitting in the In My Book® booth at the Public Library Association Conference, Minneapolis 2008. )   But throughout it all, Robin never lost confidence in her original vision. 

While building the In My Book® brand,  Robin continues to work part-time for a Brooklyn gift company and contributes to a popular library blog,  Based on the number of bookstores and libraries that have chosen to purchase the cards, Robin is proud to say that In My Book® is “a successful small business.”

“It’s been lots of fun,” she says.

The cards have gotten wonderful reviews from all over the country.  Publishers Weekly raves: “These sentimental greetings make endearing gift enclosures, especially when the present is a book.”

(A great gift for the upcoming holidays!) 

To order one of these wonderful greetings on-line, visit Robin’s website at


  1. What a unique idea!

    Many long days of work always come before an overnight success. Good on you for persisting, Robin!

  2. Many thanks for your encouragement...glad you like the concept.

  3. Really a wonderful idea. You must go with it straight-away.

  4. Robin's story demonstrates the hard work and satisfaction that comes from making a dream a reality. The part of the story I left out for space reasons (I thought the post was already on the long side) is that Robin had spent years prior to beginning the business honing many of the skills needed to bring it to fruition. Having worked at a publishing house, for instance, she knew all about packing books and even quite a bit about marketing. Again and agian, I've seen that late bloomers don't start with a clean slate. They take the building blocks of what they already know and put those blocks together in new and interesting ways.