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Dark Puss

Hi, I expect I'm being dense here but before I chase up my many librarian and bookbinding friends, exactly what is meant by this way with regard to the book above? The material, the dotty cover, the binding technique?

B R Wombat

I mean this old fashioned way of totally rebinding a book for use in a public library. The material I remember as always feeling like a soft oilcloth, not necessarily dotty. Such rebinding used to be the norm for books in public libraries in my youth and I was whisked away down Memory Lane when I borrowed Wolf Solent recently.

Thanks very much for highlighting my query, Cornflower, especially on this auspicious day for Alice Munro and her fans.

Christine Harding

I also remember library books being bound like this, usually in plain, dark, sombre colours - maroon, navy, bottle green. Someone at my childhood library once told me it was done to protect and strengthen books, so they would last longer (saving money in the long run) and so they could easily be wiped clean. I assumed the practice was a victim of cash-cutting. I think books are nicer without the rebinding, as they always felt and smelt very peculiar!


I was holding such a book in my hand while reading this post. I googled "library binding" and found this: Any help?


Interesting link to Margaret Drabble's article. I read A Glastonbury Romance,Weymouth Sands and Maiden Castle years ago, mainly because they seemed to be about places near where I live. The books are very long, rambling and strange but after all this time I can still remember certain incidents, so they must have something. ISTR spending a whole Bank Holiday weekend in the garden reading one of them. Definitely for people prepared to lose themselves for a while in strange company and not for those who like an exciting plot.


Ooh, that picture brings back memories of libraries in which I worked at the start of my career as a professional librarian. The practise was originally to preserve and strengthen books, which were often originally published with a soft cloth binding, not able to withstand the wear and tear of public library usage. When books began to be published with dust jackets, binders changed and sometimes bound the dust jacket onto the hard covers, and then eventually books were provided with a separate plastic jacket for the dust-cover, over a softer binding on the hard cover of the book itself.
Library authorities may still get their books re-bound, usually to strengthen the book and ensure it has a longer library life. One commercial binder that the authority I formerly worked for used to send its books to is Blissetts,( in London. Cost was one reason why the practise changed, but also because it may sometimes be cheaper to buy a replacement copy, with cleaner pages than re-bind a book whose pages are too yellowed and brittle to be usable for a longer period.


Ooh, this brings back memories of when I first started work as a professional librarian. Books were rebound in this way to strengthen them, because they were usually published with soft cloth binding, unsuitable for the wear and tear of public library usage. When dust jackets became more prevalent, binders changed and used to bind the dust jacket to the hard cover of the book. Later still, this practise changed to providing a separate plastic jacket for the dust jacket, while the book itself was bound in a softer material. Libraries may still send books to be re-bound, usually to extend the shelf- life of the book. One commercial bindery used by the authority I worked for is Blissetts ( Nowadays it may sometimes be cheaper to buy a replacement copy with cleaner, brighter pages than re-bind a copy with yellowing, brittle pages.

B R Wombat

I knew Cornflower readers would help! Thanks very much. I can't think why I didn't find that Library Bindings in Wikipedia myself (I feel a bit of a twit, but that's not so unusual). And I'm very glad to hear from an actual librarian who remembers how books used to be. Yes, long, rambling and strange is how I'd describe Cowper Powys. Enjoyable too, I find.

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