"Leather-Bound" Books: Why?

I’m tempted to believe that leather was intended to protect the pages within from deteriorating, Is that a correct assumption, or was it just to increase the price?



A little of both I would think.

Libraries aren’t going to put leather bound books on the shelves because people will steal them.

It’s mostly to increase the price. They’re for people who want “nice” versions of the books they love. They also vary in quality somewhat; I find books from Easton Press to be the best – they have lovely gold detailing on the covers, print that’s big and easily readable, and some have cool illustrations. Also they smell really great.

But if you just want the words, might as well download an e-book.

Leather is strong, flexible, and looks and smells wonderful. However, it must be completely acid free if it’s to be used in quality bookbinding. I think that it also appeals to those of us who like traditional looks in some things.

Mmmmmm, I do love the smell of leatherbound books.

At one time a book,or the possession of a book , was an almost sacred event.

It held the language together in it’s purest form.

Therefore it was bound in the best material and was intended to last through many lifetimes.

Today,for many, A book is still a precious commodity and should be treated as such.

There are those who only value a book for it’s short term amusement value and the shoddy bindings and paper backs are sufficient to their needs.

But the Quality tradition lingers on in purchases of family bibles and personal journals.

Hey!------it’s a matter of whether you’re wrapping a diamond or a Rhinestone!


A side fact of interest.
The only paper relics recovered from the titanic were in leather containers, such as wallets and suitcases and such. Somethig about it keeping the microbes from eating and distroting the paper.

I think in most cases leather covers serve the same use as leather car seats. They look and feel good, and show “quality”.

A friend of mine has gotten into book restoration and custom binding. He made a book that was given to Prince Phillip on a U.S. visit. It was probably thrown in a suitcase and added to some obscure library and forgotten.

I’m with the group that suggests protection of the book -at least originally. In the early days of books (ie Bibles hand written by monks) were incredibly valuable because their were so few of them so people wanted good protection for them that didn’t weigh so much they could not be opened. It was a little better with the invention of the printing press but only marginally.

Really it wasn’t until the mid-to late 1800s that books became truly “mass” media and their essence did not need to be protected as much because you could somewhat easily buy another copy if you needed to and with that the leather cover became a luxury rather than a necessity.

That being said when a person moves as much as I do, non-leather bound books that he or she wants to keep do take a much worse beating than leather-bound ones.


One of my college texts was leatherbound. That pissed me off, because it was as expensive as hell and I would have been just as happy with a paperback. Gold lettering too! Eighty bucks … grrr … those were 1979 dollars too. :mad: Grrr I say! [End of flashback]

If you don’t put some kind of cover on a book the outermost pages (e.g. first and last) will fall off in general use. Thin cardboard (paperbacks/softcovers), thick cardboard (hardcovers) and leather are ways to prevent this.

Then you can add the price factor.

It’s funny, because when I have an expensive, well-made book, I leave it on the shelf and never read it. But as for my $5 version of Hamlet that I can fit in my jacket pocket and not worry if it gets beat up, I’ve read it half a dozen times (which is a whole lot for me). Which do you think I value more? :slight_smile:

Or maybe all bibliophiles & librarians are closet leather freaks?

“Mabel, just what in Tarnation is that there new librarian doin’ back there in the Biography Section?!”

“Don’t rightly know, Clem. But I think she tryin’ to straighten the shelves–the difficult way!”

I would hazard a guess that you have clothes in your closet which you do not wear while gardening,rough-housing or while playing touch football.

Then there others which you only wear on/for special occasions.

That establishes their worth and the level of your regard.

There are values ------and then there are higher values.

The shelf books are in the safety deposit area-------the others are on the workbench.

Now--------if your talking sentimental attachment-------you have a whole 'nother matter.


Didn’t that also have to do with the chemicals involved in tanning leather? There are also a bunch of shoes of those who went down with the ship on the ocean floor-and no other remains.

Hear, Hear! I’m completely ADDICTED to leatherbound books. Something about the smell and feel. It makes me feel like i’m getting to read a priceless tome of lost information! It’s just so much more intense an experience. I also like the idea that when i’m long gone to the House Of Dust, hopefully my great, great grandkids might get to explore a book or two. (I’m sure they won’t be needed eventually…sigh) I love books.