Thursday, April 27, 2006


Some Accoutrements of Books

Books enchant bibliomaniacs by their outward appearance, as well as by their contents. Some things that delight me when I encounter them in books are thumb indices, interleaving, and ribbon bookmarks.

A thumb index is the series of notches on the fore edge of a book, designed to assist the reader in finding a particular section. Each notch ends in a tab, with a guiding letter or two. Bibles and dictionaries sometimes have a thumb index.

Interleaving is the insertion of blank pages between the pages of a printed book by the binder, to allow the reader to make his own notes. Interleaving is not very common, but is sometimes found in dictionaries. I own only one interleaved book, Henry W. Auden's Greek Prose Phrase Book (London: Macmillan, 1963).

The books in the Library of America series have nice ribbon bookmarks sewn into the spines. I own only a few books in this handsome series, Francis Parkman's France and England in North America and Thoreau's Collected Essays and Poems.

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