Photo I found on Flickr Commons titled "teenage boy reading a book in the garden, 1910-1920." Don't know why, but I love it!

What does it mean to grangerize a book? What is a chrestomathy? Where might you find a chained book? What does a super-calendered paper look like?

The digital turn of things is changing our lexicon. As our love for reading gets lost in the immaterial sphere of digital gizmos, the chances are that most of us know little of the world of book culture and production. A world that is increasingly becoming absurd or, perhaps, mysterious amidst the clutter of e-readers and smartphones.

How many book-related words do you know? Test yourself!


Bastard Title: The title of a book standing by itself on a page that comes before the full title. Sometimes also referred to as a half-title.

Bibelot: a decorative book.

Grangerized book by Brian Dettmer

Calendered: paper is calendered to make it smooth; super-calendered to make it glossy. The process consists of passing the newly made paper between smooth cylinders under pressure. Paper which receives a minimum of calendering emerges as an antique. With more calendering it acquires a machine finish, then an English finish, and finally becomes a super-calendered sheet.

Chained Book: books chained to the shelves of university, monastic, and other libraries to prevent theft in the early days of printing when books were scarce and expensive.

Chrestomathy: a collection of literary passages typically by one author and from a foreign language.

incunabula: any book printed in Europe before the year 1501.

Dandy Roll: in paper making: a cylinder of wire gauze which presses upon the drained but still moist pulp just before it starts through the rollers.

Gutenberg Bible of 1455 -- The first incunabulum ever!

Dead Matter: set type no longer needed for printing

Dos-a-dos Binding: two books bound back to back so that the back cover of one serves as the back cover of the other, with the foreedge of one next to the spine of the other.

Ex libris: latin phrase frequently used on bookplates, followed by the owner’s name, in which case it means from the library of that person. Sometimes uses as a synonym for the word, bookplate.

Fabrikoid: a pyroxylin-coated book cloth or imitation leather made by Du Pont, an American chemical company.

Fillet: an ornamental line, plain or of repetitive design, usually of gold, impressed on the cover of a book.

Foxing: A brown discoloration of paper; rust. Stains caused by chemical or metallic impurities in papers.

Grangerizing: to mutilate (books) in order to get material for illustrating; to illustrate using materials clipped from another book. A sort of “cut and paste.”

Dos-a-dos Binding

Blackface: a heavy-faced type.

Morocco: ( lowercase ) a fine, pebble-grained leather, originally made in Morocco from tanned goatskin; used for book binding.


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