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bookbinding. The art and business of bookbinding began with the protection of parchment manuscripts with boards. Papyrus had originally been produced in rolls, but sheets of parchment came to be folded and fastened together with sewing by the 2d cent. A.D. In the Middle Ages the practice of making fine bindings for these sewn volumes rose to great heights; books were rare and precious articles, and many were treated with exquisite bindings: they were gilded, jeweled, fashioned of ivory, wood, leather, or brass. The techniques of folding and sewing together sheets in small lots, combining those lots with tapes, and sewing and fastening boards on the outside as protection changed but little from the medieval monastery to the modern book bindery. The invention of printing greatly increased the demand for the bookbinder's work, establishing it as a business. The finest binding is still done by hand. In machine binding (called casing), the cover, or case, is made separate from the book and then glued to it. The covering of the boards, usually called the binding, is most frequently of cloth, heavy paper, vellum, leather, or imitations of leather. The preferred leathers are oasis goat and levant. Leather bindings are sometimes decorated by marbling, tooling, or embossing.


See H. Lehmann-Haupt, ed., Bookbinding in America (1941, repr. 1967); B. C. Middleton, A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique (1978); D. Muir, Binding and Repairing Books by Hand (1978); E. Walker, The Art of Book-binding (1984).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also binding), the durable and usually stiff cover in which the pages of a book are pasted. Bookbindings may be made from cardboard, leather, cloth, paper, polymers, or other materials.

The first bookbindings date to the first century A.D., at which time manuscript books on parchment first appeared in Europe. By the 17th century, as a result of the use of paper and the development of printing, the quality of handmade bindings had significantly improved. The production of mass editions led to the mechanization of bookmaking and changes in the structure of the binding.

In the USSR, several types of bookbindings are used, which differ in the appearance of the cover, the method of fastening and reinforcing the unbacked book, and the method of attaching the book to the cover. Three types of bookcovers, or cases, are made. One type consists of one piece of material. Another type consists of two cardboard sides and a back made of strong paper, which are pasted together and covered with one piece of binding paper or fabric. A third type of case has a backbone covered with one type of material and cardboard sides covered with another. It and other sophisticated types of bookbindings are produced by casemakers. The material for the cover is fed to these machines in sheets or rolls.

Inscriptions or illustrations are applied on the covers by ink printing, by imprinting a textured design with a hot stamp, or by gold tooling.

One of the first steps in binding a book involves attaching the endpapers to the front and back signatures. After the signatures are sewn or pasted together, gauze or another backing material is pasted to the backbone. The three edges of each book are trimmed, and the turn-in is pasted to the edges of the backbone. The book is then pasted into its cover.

All bookbinding operations are carried out on assembly lines. As many as 2,000 to 3,000 books are bound per hour. The procedure requires six to eight persons. The production of books that have full bindings and that are not sewn requires half as many operations, and productivity reaches as high as 5,000 to 6,000 books per hour.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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