Bookbindings in Paper and Cloth, 1800 - 1925
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This exhibition featured both utilitarian and quality bindings. Most were publishers’ bindings or edition bindings; that is, one of many copies of the same title given an identical binding by the publisher. Modern book buyers take this for granted but, in the early nineteenth century, only certain categories of books (such as those for children) were given permanent bindings before they were sold. Bookshops stocked many books in temporary bindings made of paper-covered boards; bookbuyers then ordered a leather binding of their choice. Until the 1840s, publishers’ bindings were often dull, as publisher-booksellers wanted an inexpensive binding. Gradually, paper and cloth bindings were accepted by the public as a permanent binding and print runs (and immediate sales) were large enough to justify a well-designed and attractive cover.