What began as a hobby photographing personalized license plates has led Warren resident Holly Sherburne to publish a book titled “The Maine Plate: Maine Vanity License Plates and Their Meanings.”

Sherburne will do book signings Wednesday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 7 in the Marine Tent at the Maine Lobster Festival in Harbor Park. She also will feature a display of nautical-themed Maine license plates.

The local businesswoman first began photographing license plates while publishing the newspaper Downeast Dog News. She thought that dog-related license plates would add a fun, visual element to the newspaper “and they did, but I discovered there were so many other unique and creative license plates that I couldn’t just stop there,” she said.

As her collection grew, she began to wonder about the meanings behind the license plates. Some plates were obvious, but others were cryptic and seemed undecipherable, as is they held secrets known only to the vehicle’s owner. She began asking people about the meanings of their vanity license plates.

“The stories I received were funny, poignant, inspiring and sometimes tragic — and all packed into only six or seven characters or less. It was amazing,” she said.

In addition to the stories, the 50-page, full-color book includes games such as matching the license plate to the vehicle or the owner’s occupation, Maine trivia and a special section about Maine’s specialty license plates such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Animal Welfare and Fish and Wildlife and more.

Sherburne says it was not easy to narrow down which license plates would make the book, but because many of the photos were taken in the Midcoast, a lot of local residents will find their plates inside. Among these are Thomaston resident Sumner Kinney, whose motorcycle license plate “OH MAN” is featured.

Sherburne said this is the first in a series of books. With the more than 2,000 photographs she has already taken, there are plenty more to choose from — and more photos to take. Maine ranks sixth in the nation for the percentage of personalized license plates, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

“The Maine Plate” can be purchased online at TheMainePlate.com. The book also is available at local book stores and gift shops.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.