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Modern bookbinding vs old bookbinding: The pros & cons

Bookbinding is considered to be an art which depends on elements of measuring, cutting and sticking or sewing. A well-bound book is completed by more than two dozen operations, which may increase with customizations depending upon particular style and materials.

Traditional manner of bookbinding
The first and foremost books known to the humankind were the clay tablets of the Babylonian era, which were scribed with a blunt instrument on moist clay and dried in the sun. It was followed by palm books, which were in actual form like books. These were made out of narrow strips of palm leaves or barks. The writings were scraped on it and filled with lamp black. These stacks of leaves were sewn together using cord or leather thread and wood was used as cover, which was usually decorated with carvings or inlay work and even studded with gold or silver. The arrival of papyrus led to making of scrolls or papyrus rolls, by slitting the plant stems into strips, which were hammered into sheets and polished to make a smooth writing surface. However, the problem was faced due to the brittle nature of papyrus.

Since in old times, the books were only transcribed on handmade materials, their sizes and styles changed considerably and there was no consistency in the process. It was only in the fifteenth century that books were bound to the spines connected with hardcovers as are used today. The vellum (or calf-skin), which was used traditionally for bookbinding, usually reacted to humidity in the atmosphere and bloated the book. It was then secured with wooden cover using straps or fasteners. Later this form progressed into the extravagant style, where bright colors, stamps, gold leaves, gems, etc. were used.

Modernisation of bookbinding
The advent of paper started the process of advancement in bookbinding. It resulted in books being lighter, sewn with silk, bound with cowhide to spines and secured with glue sheets. It was a revolutionary change from the continuous papyrus rolls to the books made up from separate sheets of paper.

The invention of the printer and its usage gave the necessary boost to bookbinding.

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