Book Spines – To Break or Not to Break? That is the Question…

If you type “Book Spines” into Google, a Wikipedia article on Bookbinding come up that says: “Bookbinding” is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It usually involves attaching a book cover to the resulting text-block.” The article goes on to talk about the history and types of bookbinding, of which there are 15 types, including Anthropodermic bibliopegy (the binding of books in human skin!).

But my question is, what do readers think about the breaking of book spines?

This conversation starter has always become a raging debate among readers I know (yes, I admit to starting the conversation with that intention), some say it´s sacrilege and ‘unforgivable’ and others say it helps them ‘feel’ the book they are reading.

I personally think books are meant to be read passionately, and this usually leads to broken spines! I find the look of a book with a fraying, destroyed spine endearing, as I get the impression that it has been read, enjoyed, and loved many times. I treat my books with respect, but I lose myself in them, and this often leads to them getting dog-eared, things spilt on them and the spines broken as I open them up at exciting bits to make them easier to read. I don’t purposely try to break the spines, but I don´t take care not to. However, special editions, gifts, and borrowed books are different…

There is one kind of spine damage I hate though… Living in sunny Spain, I foolishly left my books a year in a room with lots of windows with only white organza curtains covering them… And the titles on the spines faded! Grrrr, now THAT is spine damage I can´t handle 🙂

Categories: Book covers and spines | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Book Spines – To Break or Not to Break? That is the Question…

  1. Funny you should ask this, I wrote a post recently called ‘The Book Doctor’ about an artist who cuts up old encyclopaedias with surgical tools to make beautiful sculptures. They look marvellous, but I cannot help but feel saddened by the loss of such fabulously old books… 😦

    • I´ve just seen it and I feel the same! The sculptures are amazing, his eye to detail and the outlining of different words is gorgeous (I especially love the third one with 3 spines) but it´s essentially a “hacked into” book! And precious ones by the look of it, not your cheap, old paperback ones… Spine breaking is justified if it´s for reading, but this is different…

      • Yes, exactly! It’s a real paradox; how can something so beautiful be made by destroying something equally so? Perhaps he used unwanted books though, which nobody wanted…

        • Hmm or maybe we are just consoling ourselves with that thought! I´ve been Googleing book art this afternoon and he´s not the only one, there are some gorgeous works of art out there but as you say, it´s a bit depressing! So I changed to beautiful bookstores to look for inspiration for my next post 🙂
          R.I.P books that have been sculptured I say!

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