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The Bee’s Knees: Bookbinding

Side by side

First there were stone slabs and animal hides. Then there were scrolls of papyrus. Then there was parchment, and finally the bound book. And a few less traditional alternatives, which I shall discuss here. Hello, and welcome to the Bee’s Knees, the weekly special here at Comic Booked where I take a look at some of the different ways people combine words and pictures. This week we’re looking at the art of bookbinding itself, and what some creative geniuses have done to a form we’re all familiar with: the common book.

Side by sideBound books have been around for centuries. We all know that. Even before the invention of the printing press, books were painstakingly copied by hand in a form that is perfectly recognizable today. After the invention of the printing press, though, things were different. Books were easy to produce, and that allowed people to get more creative about how a book should be structured. One of the oldest forms of bookbinding experimentation comes from this Bible constructed in the mid eighteenth century. Currently held at Chetham’s Library, the Bible is split in the middle through the book of Psalms and bound almost as if it were two books instead of one.

Star bindingModern bookmakers have come up with equally creative ways of putting books together. The star shape you find here, a photo album sold on Etsy, is one of the simpler twists on book-binding, the result of pulling the front and back covers together with pages carefully constructed to have the right shape when pulled out.

Another of the more creative options out there is the accordion, that lends to a smooth reading experience as the story quite literally unwinds as it is read. This selection from UK Photo Day is a showcase of pictures with quotes on the mirroring pages.


Accordion binding

And that’s the bee’s knees for this week! Please join me next Friday for another way people blend words and pictures to create all-new forms of art. In the meantime, feel free to tell me in the comments section if there’s something you know of I should write about. Have you ever seen one of these forms of binding, or one equally unusual? Please share!

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Comments (2)


Binding? Sounds kinky!


Well that's pretty neat.

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