Why did old books have such long titles?

You’ve all seen the titles in today’s staff report, and there are certainly others. Why did old books have such ridiculously long titles? When did they stop? The only modern book I can think of with such a long title went by the name of A New Verse Translation of the Old English Epic Beginning “Hwaet, We Gar-Dena In Geardagum” And Commonly Known As Beowulf. (And of course, “Beowulf” was in enormous letters.) But that’s the only one I’ve seen that long.

Because it was felt that the title should clearly describe what the book was about.

Nowaday, you often have pretty much the same thing, especially with nonfiction. The only difference is that there is a short, snappy title and a longer subtitle.

Because they didn’t have dust covers with blurbs.

Ah, the days before marketing…