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Old 07-15-2012, 08:02 AM   #1
fjtorres
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From The Economist: Deckle edge pbooks and changing times

It seems that faking older publishing tech (the animated page turns in iBooks and other apps, for one) isn't all that new. Instead, it is following a centuries-old tradition.

Spurred by a disclaimer in the Amazon online bookstore,
Quote:
This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages.


...the Economist has an amusing explanation of the history of one faked-quality industry practice: the so called Deckle edge.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babba.../printed-books

Quote:
An artefact of bygone days, the "deckle edge" is part of the modern fetishisation of the past, much as Instagram glorifies the 1970s snapshot camera. An artefact that might have annoyed the makers of the day turns into a trait intended to evoke the whole experience and emotion associated with the original, but without any of the baggage.
He could easily be talking about the paper smell fetishists.

Quote:
Over time, the deckle edge transformed from a cost-cutting measure, in which leaving it in place was cheaper than removing it, into a sign that a book was made from more expensive paper or using a more refined method. Your correspondent spent his teens and twenties in the printing and book worlds, and even as late as the 1990s a sniffiness prevailed about sheet-printed books versus those printed on continuous presses, a similar vestige. Babbage also recalls buying hard-cover books in cheap book-club editions in which the deckle edge was a must, to try to offset the impression made by poor paper quality, binding and printing.
And, of course, now we get the "sniffiness" over the sensuality of pbooks vs ebooks.

Quote:
The modern deckle edge is cut by a machine that scarifies the edges of a book in an ostensibly random—and rather pretty—fashion. In 1948 Dard Hunter, a paper historian, noted that the Eynsford Mill in England, for example, produced "genuine handmade, imitation handmade, and Fourdrinier machine-made", each appealing to the differing needs of publishers and printing firms.

But the significance of the edge may be lost on many modern readers.
.
.
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Amazon's note is meant to reassure buyers disturbed by a deckle edge that the artefact is not a flaw. Ironically, making a book dearer by design seems to have made it appear damaged in the eyes of readers who lack the supposed sophistication to appreciate the fakery of a handmade past.
Ah, marketting geniuses at work!
Ragged edges to imply "handcrafted" have apparently lost their appeal in the high tech age of "seamless coolness".

This has me wondering if publishers have been secretly spraying some chemicals on pbooks to make their smell appeal to the smell fetishists, maybe some bookworm pheromone.

I have dozens of books with that kind of edge. And I thought it was a sign that the publisher was too cheap to pay for clean-edged paper. Live and learn; I'll have to remember to be impressed next time by the attention to (fake) detail.

Clearly different value systems at play.

Now I'm wondering what other product "enhancements" I'm too unsophisticated to appreciate.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:38 AM   #2
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Whereas I, seeing this form of cut on books, jump to the conclusion that the book is cheaply made. I never once considered they did that on purpose. I'm one of those people that would have complained. Hearing the explanation wouldn't make me feel better about it. I'd probably return the book.

Last edited by Rob Lister; 07-15-2012 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 07-15-2012, 09:35 AM   #3
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That's interesting. I've got a couple of hardbacks that are cut like that, but never knew that it was an intentional "effect"!
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lister View Post
Whereas I, seeing this form of cut on books, jump to the conclusion that the book is cheaply made. I never once considered they did that on purpose. I'm one of those people that would have complained. Hearing the explanation wouldn't make me feel better about it. I'd probably return the book.
I likewise, would be turned off a book by the pages in that form. I know it's supposed to be an antiquey "art form", but I've borrowed books that were bound that way and could not stand reading, often returning them before I finished the book. Same thing in a bookstore. I rarely pick up a book if that is the only format it is offered in.
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:44 AM   #5
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In my case, they're both poetry books. Perhaps the publisher felt that it added to the "art".
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
In my case, they're both poetry books. Perhaps the publisher felt that it added to the "art".
Pre-twentieth poetry? Might make sense depending on the binding.

But for more modern stuff...?

Dunno...

Heh, I thought I might be the only one this was "news" to.
(Maybe the thread belongs in discussions?)
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Old 07-15-2012, 10:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
Pre-twentieth poetry? Might make sense depending on the binding.

But for more modern stuff...?

Dunno...

Heh, I thought I might be the only one this was "news" to.
(Maybe the thread belongs in discussions?)
They're actually hardback versions of Robert Fagles' translations of Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey".
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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They're actually hardback versions of Robert Fagles' translations of Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey".
New book, old material...
I wonder how many billable hours went into that decision?
Another area where ebooks strip away "optional" costs.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:13 AM   #9
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I'm sure it sounds strange, but, seeing it for real, I actually rather like it. It gives the book a bit of "character".
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:12 PM   #10
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Now I'm wondering what other product "enhancements" I'm too unsophisticated to appreciate.
Typos and OCR errors in ebooks?

In college, I subscribed to some book of the month services. Many of the books, especially from Doubleday, had pages with uneven edges. That led me to associate Doubleday with low quality.

This whole "you have to be sophisticated to appreciate our fake signs of quality" thing smacks of "The Emperor's New Clothes" to me.
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:11 PM   #11
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Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet used deckle edges on the paper, to mimic the look of wedding invitations. I rather like the effect - I think it's pretty.
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:18 PM   #12
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Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet used deckle edges on the paper, to mimic the look of wedding invitations. I rather like the effect - I think it's pretty.
I agree. I think it's a case of "don't knock it if you haven't seen it"; it's a rather attractive effect, to my mind.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:40 PM   #13
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I agree. I think it's a case of "don't knock it if you haven't seen it"; it's a rather attractive effect, to my mind.
It also feels pleasant under my thumbs; like velvet. I vaguely remember it being distracting at first, until I got used to it.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:44 PM   #14
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I'm the opposite. I can appreciate the character and style they are adding to the book, but to me, it is uncomfortable. But yes, I think it is kind of pretty.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:57 PM   #15
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I went through several books and found two Deckle Edge:

1. The End of Eternity, Isaac Asimov, first edition 1955, Doubleday
2. The Guns of the South, Harry Turtledove, first edition 1992, Ballantine

However, I have many non-fiction and other fiction published throughout the 20th century that do not use the Deckle Edge.

I think they look cool, but are a hassle to use if just want to thumb through them (which you probably wouldn't do if you were just reading them).

And I agree, wedding invitations do look real good with Deckle Edge.
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