Emily K. Bell: Structural and Material Clues to Binding History [iBB Podcast #31.1]

This time on iBookBinding’s Podcast, we discuss the material and structural history of bookbinding. Our guest is Emily K. Bell, a book conservator. This is the first part of the three we recorded a while ago. Some of the things have changed in the lives of our guest and of the hosts of the podcast. But the historical/bookish part definitely remains actual.


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Join us on:

00:00 – Beginning
01:49 – Emily’s path to conservation and bookbinding through science, engineering, and building spaceships
04:11 – Does Emily’s crafty side come from her family?
05:54 – More about Emily’s path to conservation (textile conservation, museum experience, interest in books as mechanical objects)
08:50 – Fun of making boxes for books
10:13 – Is there a Moment When a Book Isn’t a Book Anymore?
o10:53 – With what kind of materials and objects is Emily working as a conservator? What are the oldest ones?
13:46 – Emily’s series of articles “Structural and Material Clues to Binding History: A Series”
15:27 – How is Emily interacting with actual books in her research process
19:29 – Difficulties with restoring the history of bookbinding due to rebinding
21:18 – What are the earliest bindings known, and what are they look like? Coptic bindings, codices, tablets, etc.
27:14 – How different are the Coptic and European binding traditions? Do they even share a common source?
30:37 – What do we know about the earliest history of European-style bookbinding? The importance of knowing languages for the study of different sources
36:56 – How do the traditions are actually spread? The influence of bookbinding masters, the tradition of bookbinding manuals
47:56 – How has it happened that European bookbindings are relatively coherent despite the disunity and small number of masters
51:09 – What types of book structures didn’t work and didn’t survive through time?
57:55 – Has the exponential growth of book production affected bookbinding traditions? Switch from parchment to paper
01:01:08 – How the advent of printing and other historical events has influenced the bookbinding

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