We seldom stop to think about the physical form of the book we are reading. Books have become such familiar objects to us that we almost always take their ingenious and efficient physical form for granted. Old books connect us to the past, the more so because they are still common objects: everybody has picked up and handled an old book at one time or another. Unlike most objects manufactured several centuries or more ago, such books are routinely available to users. This video examines the physical structure of books, from the medieval manuscript codex to the modern paperback. It discusses some of the difficulties libraries and other repositories face in trying to make valuable—and vulnerable—materials available for use by readers, and it presents some strategies for dealing with these difficulties.
Originally issued in 1986; remastered in 2008. Written by Gary Frost and Terry Belanger, directed by Peter Herdrich, and narrated by Gary Frost. All rights now owned by the Book Arts Press (Rare Book School)