Bound to be Beautiful : Publishers Bindings in the Nineteenth Century
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Despite having been told not to judge a book by its cover, we would do well to look at publishers’ bindings. In a nutshell, publishers’ bindings are those identical bindings produced in large quantities for publishers, for sale to an increasingly broad audience. Shown here are some examples from the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections at Queen’s University. We will explore the advent of these bindings by looking at a few of the pioneering figures and their publishing initiatives. Publishers’ bindings were, at one and the same time, reflections of the societies in which they emerged and agents of change in the flourishing consumer publishing industry of which they were a critical part. By the end of the nineteenth century, these bindings had in a sense created the modern book, and the modern book fed a need for publishers’ bindings. In this instance, we are certainly cleared to judge a book by its cover.