Nicholas Pickwoad (University of the Arts London, Camberwell), sponsored by the Committee on Medieval Studies, Harvard.
It has long been assumed that most books in the era of the handpress were sold in unbound sheets. Today this assumption is being challenged by the suggestion that many, if not most, books were sold bound. The survival, however, of significant numbers of books as sewn bookblocks without covers and with or without boards offers another possibility, which is that the booktrade offered books for sale either within the trade or to their customers in an incomplete state, but ready to be completed whenever that may have been required. This lecture looks at the surviving examples, the evidence for the practice and its implications for the history of bookbinding.