Chela Metzger has written a reveiw of Julia Miller’s “Books Will Speak Plain” for Bonefolder Extra (the blog of The Bonefolder online journal) . Be sure to check it out.
Certainly Miller’s book is not entirely new in subject matter, but it offers a new and useful combination of information. Others have given us heavily illustrated books on western bookbinding history, like Szirmai’s The Archeology of Medieval Bookbinding, (1999) or Jane Greenfield’s ABC of Bookbinding (2002). And we already have a few handbooks, which focus on dating a national binding style, like David Pearson’s English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800: A Handbook (2005). Arguments for including binding information in bibliographic description have already been developed by a few bibliographers, as Miriam Foot has shown in her excellent chapter on bibliography in Bookbinders at Work: Their Roles and Methods (2006). And in his short, highly illustrated Book as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Text (2008), Pearson has already argued passionately, as does Julia Miller, for the unique artifactual qualities of historic books in libraries. What Miller’s book does which is especially innovative is offer a set of carefully crafted tools to carry out the bookbinding documentation she has argued so passionately for.