Sticker Shock


Button Holed

Submitter: Our library has a standard place where we put all our barcodes – in the upper right hand corner of the front cover. I found this title on our New Shelf and proudly on display. The book is brand new & I don’t think it has even circulated once. This would be a good example of a time when Tech Services should have made an exception and moved the barcode down just a little a bit so we could read the whole title. The title is “Buttoned Holed,” but as you can see, a few important letters were covered up.

Holly:  I was reading some new submissions on a Sunday afternoon when this one came in.  I laughed so loudly that I woke my husband up from his football nap. I showed him the cover image above and he cracked up too.  Wow. Just wow. (By the way we are always up for some immature humor on bad processing.  Send along your covers to

Mary:   I just hate bad processing and I wonder how many readers passed this by because of the stupid barcode placement.  (Then I wondered all the people that DID pick this title expecting something else.) I of course , completely crack up at the result. (I like to think my inner 12 year old boy is a bit more mature than Holly’s inner 12 year old boy.)   I read the description and saw the unadulterated cover on Amazon and think this a good choice for a cozy mystery collection.  I am sure librarians everywhere offer humble apologies to the author for this mistake. Don’t weed, repair!


  1. My inner 12 year old boyself says “tee hee”. If this had been in my 12 year old self in real time I would have probably said “huh?”. I didn’t catch on too quickly then.

  2. I have to admit, my inner 12-year-old would take great pleasure in following the barcode-placement rules precisely in this case. And then I’d probably be giggling the rest of the day.

  3. Oh no!!!! I know the author personally – she’s awesome! What an unfortunate thing to happen. But I think she’ll get a kick out of this, actually. I have put plenty a barcode on a book – I definitely would have moved this one.

  4. Hey, folks! Kylie Logan here, author of the above mentioned book. OK, on one hand, it’s very funny. On the other . . . not if readers pass it up.

    Then again, nothing about technology surprises me lately. I’m having major computer problems, and to think even barcodes are out to get me . . . well, I’m starting to believe it!

    1. Kylie, thanks for being a good sport! Hopefully the offending library will buy another copy to increase your sales. In the meantime, maybe you will just expand your readership! 🙂

  5. It is funny, and it is also a wonderful book! I had to laugh at the comments about people “cracking up”. Butt holed…cracking up.
    Oh wow, my inner 12 year old is showing too!

  6. I haven’t read a modern cozy in quite a while, but I have to read this one. One, because Kylie is such a good sport. Two, I’ve spent lots of time and money in specialty and vintage button shops. Three, I want to see f I can avoid the temptation to apply one of our misprinted bar codes. that’s my 13 year old talking. I was a slow learner. 🙂

  7. I found The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski on the shelf of our middle school library. Had a very pretty cover. OMG! This is the most graphic, horrific novel I have ever encountered. Told the librarian to hide this one fast. Could only stomach 1/4 of its contents. I thought perhaps there were only a few disgusting passages, but a quick flip through showed more horrible incidents.

  8. I’m glad Kylie is taking it so well! Yes, it made me smirk, but I have seen the book at B&N. I know what the proper title is! LOL!! I just ordered it through eBay. Can’t wait for my copy to come, without the STICKER!!

  9. I worked in Tech Services at our library; I’m not a cataloger, but I did spend 16 years as a processor. Oh, you would’ve LOVED some of the stuff I encountered over the years! I my first typing error in my new job was a typo for the author, Richard CONDON. Then, there was a slip (typed by someone else) for the title, Hard DISK Management. The sad thing was that we all saw the book on a cart for a week, and actually thought the title WAS the naughty title! (In her defense, the typist had just discovered she was pregnant when she typed the slips…)

    We also had someone who had problems with the publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, when they manually input records in the catalog. The resulting name sounded like a stage name for a stripper.

    And fiction spine labels have their share of hilarity with the immature library assistant. A Chinese author, Yu caused much laughter one day. F YU would be the fiction spine label. A staff member was trying to call out the correct call number to someone else, “F YU!”. The cataloger was perplexed as to why this proper, lady-like person was cheesing them off verbally!

    I could write a book…but I’d probably accidentally make a naughty mistake while cataloging it!

  10. I’ve seen so many books that have the bar codes put at the most inconvenient places on the book. There are books that where the summary of the book is blocked and you can’t read what the book plot is about on the back or, inside the front or back covers. Paperbacks are the worse. I wish the authors would get on the bandwagon on this. It’s their time and efforts to write these books that are getting ignored when the plots can’t be read. Look at the books of new authors that are getting left by the wayside because the bar codes are blocked?


  11. I’d say this could be ours, except that ours is checked out with holds and has been circulating just fine. Our Acquisitions Librarian put the barcode on and didn’t even notice, but we sure noticed it in Tech Services (okay, we thought it was hilarious). We moved the barcode, but then Circulation staff complained that the barcode was in the wrong place, so the Director approved moving it back. Sorry Kylie!

  12. We’re all overlooking the obvious. Perhaps it WAS a 12-year-old who applied the bar code in this case! 😉

    (There’s a new cozy mystery for you in itself–The Case of the Crass CoverUp!)

  13. title var: Butt Holed: How Executive Decisions Go Viral. It’s like the Wisconsin Tourism Federation (which had to change its acronym!).

  14. I just shared this one on FB as an example of why I prefer to do my own processing and why I have a flexible policy on where I place my barcodes!

  15. Really? That’s what I thought until I saw the buttons on the cover. I thought today’s librarians must really be getting with it and catering to a perverse audience until I saw the crafts on the cover. But my question is, why is the ‘standard’ to put the barcode on the front cover? Especially in the upper portion? Why wouldn’t the standard be to put the barcode on the back cover? Is that too logical?

  16. @Henry – makes scanning quicker. Nothing slows us clerks down more than having to search for the bar code. Some of the older paperbacks even have the bar codes inside, smack dab in the middle of the page of reviews of the book in question.

    If all codes are in the upper right corner, it’s scan and done.

  17. I’ve done my share of checking in and out, and having the codes in a standardized place certainly does help…but,

    A) The front cover isn’t everybody’s standard–where I worked before, the standard place was the back, and

    B) it’s not like moving it an inch or so in any direction to avoid a problem like this leads to a lengthy hunt for the code.

  18. I had 2 copies of an Opposing Viewpoints book on Sex once which were doomed to be lost by the placement of the YA sticker at the top of the spine. Yes, the books were about YAx until I asked that the sticker be moved.

    Let’s not mention what Follett did to the most recent editions of Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras where the spine labels completely obscured the spine titles…

  19. At our library, our standard for placing bar code is top row on the back cover. Just as easy for any clerk to find and scan and at least the title isn’t butt holed for purpose of hilarious juvenile humor.

  20. @DCMerkle: Except in cases of self-publishing, authors have no say in how their covers are designed or where titles are placed. And the location of a bar code is up to the library system.

    The best solution would probably be for publishers and librarians to collaborate on a standard place for bar codes to go. But since every library doesn’t want them in the same place, it’s probably more difficult than it sounds.

  21. This may be off-topic but I’m a little surprised that’s where your barcodes go, just from an inventory perspective. Doesn’t that make it inconvenient to scan, since a large book would have to be tipped backwards so far to get to the barcode? We do ours close to the spine so I can just tip it backwards a little bit, scan it, and push it back in place. Just wonderin’.

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