The title specific bookbinding or How to mass produce the unique

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragKonferenspaper, ej i proceeding/ej förlagsutgivet


To give the latest novel by Joyce Carol Oates a book binding design identical with one used for a novel by for instance Orhan Pamuk would be unthinkable in today’s book market. What I like to call the title specific book binding, or book cover – that is a binding or cover designed for a specific title – is something we take for granted to such an extent that we hardly even reflect over the phenomenon. For marketing people and designers working within publishing, it is a crucial question though, as the looks of books mean a lot for their commercial success, or failure. It is the design of the book cover that guides the consumer, shapes audiences and genres and contributes to the identity of authorships and of publishers. As Michael Moyland and Lane Stiles have formulated it (Moyland & Stiles 1996, p. 1–2), literacy not only means ”textual competence but material competence, an ability to read the semiotics of the concrete forms that embody, shape, and condition the meanings of texts”.

A hundred and fifty years ago giving different books identical, or similar bindings was perfectly normal. Before industrialization and the growth of a consumer society, books were rarely provided with publishers’ bindings and most book bindings did thus not have to play a role on the market. This paper discusses the transition of bindings from the private sphere to the commercial sphere: how and why did publishers take on the responsability for binding their books and, more importantly, what did this do to the design of bindings and covers? The paper focuses on the relation between mass production – the practice of edition binding – and uniquness – giving each title a unique design. This relation is understood as a consequence of the need for distinctions and individualism in a growing mass society where marketing had to meet a new cultural compelxity.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Kulturstudier
StatusUnpublished - 2010
Peer review utfördJa
EvenemangBook Culture from Below : The Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) - Helsinki
Varaktighet: 2010 aug 172010 aug 20


KonferensBook Culture from Below : The Eighteenth Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)