Interested in children's books? See our latest arrivals

What Is a Frontispiece?

By Leah Dobrinska. May 4, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Learn About Books, Book Collecting

We think it’s safe to assume that if you’re reading this article you enjoy books. You also probably believe, as we do, that books are important physical objects: they are important collectibles and keepsakes that you can feel, hold in your hand, page through, and examine the condition of. Indeed, we like to place an emphasis on the physical copy of a book as an object to be treasured. In our efforts to do so, we’d like to examine some of the features that make books, especially rare books, so special. Today, we’re focusing on frontispieces. What is a frontispiece? What’s with the funny name? What’s the history of this particular feature in our books? We hope this post answers these and more of your questions.

     
Read more...


Five 20th-Century Writers Who Went to Law School

By Audrey Golden. Aug 29, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Learn About Books, Literature, Poetry

The study of the law often is viewed in opposition to careers requiring creativity. Yet many notable novelists and poets actually have attended law school, and even more have actually graduated and practiced law in some capacity. While it might sound strange to think of fiction or poetry writing and the study of law being interwoven, we believe there’s a close relationship between the thinking and reading practices that occur in both fields. To give you a sense of some of the distinct and varied writers who went to law school, we’d like to provide some information about a handful of poets and novelists and their experiences studying the law.

     
Read more...


Collecting Books on Nordic Design

By Audrey Golden. Jun 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book History, Learn About Books

Are you interested in Scandinavian design, or aesthetic forms that emerged from the Nordic countries, after World War II? Then you might be interested in learning more about collecting related design books. When we talk about Scandinavian design, we’re largely including Finland, too, although it’s not technically part of Scandinavia. Rather, it’s one of the Nordic countries, of which the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are also a part. However, when the popularity of design from the Nordic countries reached the United States in the 1950s, the common description was “Design in Scandinavia.” This depiction comes from a traveling exhibit of the same name that featured Scandinavian arts and crafts, as well as industrial design. We’d like to talk a bit more about the exhibit, and introduce you to some interesting and rare books you might seek out for your collection.

     
Read more...


The History and Significance of Dictionaries

By Connie Diamond. Apr 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Learn About Books

Language is fluid. In fact, the most recent edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary boasts seventeen hundred new entries including "photobomb," "meme," "emoji," and "jegging." Looking back at the history of language, it's interesting to note that Noah Webster, the “Father of the American Dictionary,” came of age during the American Revolution. At that time, words had the power to define our national identity. Later, they had the power to reflect that new identity as it evolved. Webster believed that “Great Britain, whose children we are, and whose language we speak, should no longer be our standard...” and so he set out to create a new standard.

     
Read more...


Famous Manuscripts and the History of Handwriting

By Matt Reimann. Jan 23, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Learn About Books

Although it feels like nearly everything has its own holiday now, it might help to reflect on the subject of January 23, or National Handwriting Day. In the digital age, it is no secret that calligraphy is a dying art. Why work laboriously and imperfectly on something that takes days to cross the country, when the computer will set it in flawless text that can be transmitted instantly?

     
Read more...


Jean Jacques Rousseau: How Hypocrisy Led to Discovery

By Matt Reimann. Jun 28, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Learn About Books

Considered by some to be the most significant 18th century writer in French letters, Swiss philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau changed the realm of political thought and moral psychology. As an original thinker, Rousseau inevitably made enemies and aroused suspicions in his day. His writings forced him into exile and earned him numerous rivals, including Voltaire. Rousseau became so paranoid that he could no longer distinguish the real from the imagined. A man of reason can give way to the most irrational of fears: This is one of the many contradictions that punctuates Rousseau's remarkable life.

     
Read more...


William Styron and Other Critics of Formal Education

By Matt Reimann. Jun 10, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Learn About Books

At first thought, it seems ludicrous that any author — any person who depends on lovers of books and knowledge, really — would condemn formal education. In an age when more and more authors are cultivated in an MFA program, you'd assume to find only champions of education. After all, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Flannery O’Connor all passed through an MFA program, and plenty more, like Zadie Smith and Joyce Carol Oates, have taught in one. Despite the firm bond between writers and academic institutions, there are some authors who can’t help but criticize formal education.

     
Read more...


Small Publishers - Champions of Classic, Strange, and Fine Press Books

By Ben Keefe. Mar 25, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Fine Press, Book Making, Learn About Books

Think of your favorite bookstore. Most likely there’s a section in the store labeled “New Releases.” Here you can find titles from authors that any casual reader will recognize: James Patterson, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich. These books are produced and promoted by their publishing companies which are, especially in the case of those three, very recognizable. However, there is a sea of smaller publishers whose books are worthy of the same limelight. These lesser-known companies produce beautifully bound books, forgotten gems and off-the-beaten-path novels. Here is a selection of small publishers that care passionately about books and often express that love in unique and interesting ways.

     
Read more...


Caring for Rare Books Bound in Vellum

By Matt Reimann. Mar 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Vellum is a printing material which was used as early as 2000 BC. It frequently appears in old, rare books as well as maps, deeds, and other important documents. It is valued for its distinct feel and assumed nobility. Gutenberg printed bibles with it; the Declaration of Independence is written on it; and the UK still prints its Acts of Parliament on vellum for archival purposes. Read on for a brief history of vellum and some insight into vellum preservation best practices.

     
Read more...


A Glossary of Book Terms Part II: The Art of the Book

By Katie Behrens. Mar 13, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Learn About Books

The vocabulary of the rare book world can be daunting, especially for new collectors. In this series of blog posts, we attempt to explain and illustrate some of the basic terminology. Our last post focused on the anatomy of a book; here we turn our attention to printmaking and decorative features. 

     
Read more...


 

Get our communications?

* required information

About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I