Are you a bibliomaniac? Can’t stop buying books?

Do you recognise yourself here…?

stories and rumours circulate about the great book collectors of recent years. It is a bad sign, for example, when the hunt for rare manuscripts takes precedence over the most rudimentary comfort and basic hygiene, or when even shop-soiled, coffee-stained or water-damaged items are treated like holy relics. It is equally worrying when there are double-backed piles of books in every room in a house, including the bathrooms. And, as yet more volumes encroach on all the space available for eating, living and sleeping, pets, partners and children can find themselves struggling to maintain a precarious foothold…

If your bookbuying verges on the obsessive, you’ll enjoy this article by Matthew Reiss in the Times Higher Ed

And if you love books, there are a few Ashgate titles that you might like. On our website we have brought together a list of Ashgate’s top ten books on Book and Publishing History.

The highlight of this part of our list is without doubt The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding by J.A. Szirmai, which has garnered a wide array of glowing reviews since its publication in 1999.

‘…[a] major contribution to the study of bookbinding…Szirmai’s book…is the first to offer a comprehensive account of binding structures; from sewing, through edge trimming, to fastenings and furnishings…The detail, like the coverage, is astonishing…an absolute must for any library concerned with the art, history, and science of the book.’
ARLIS News-Sheet, No. 141

‘Every book restorer should be familiar with the knowledge in The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding…It should be available to every book restorer as an indispensable handbook…The book is a standard work for the evolution of binding techniques and therefore it should not be missing in any professional library.’
Papier Restaurierung, No. 1

‘Succinct and organized, fully and lucidly illustrated, Szirmai’s book includes thorough documentation and an excellent subject index.’
Choice, Vol. 37, No. 6

‘Szirmai deserves our indebtedness for a magisterial work which constitutes a milestone in the field of the archaeology of the book, qualifying the author as the first true archaeologist of the binding structure.’ C
ABNewsletter, No. 1

‘As the first scholarly work to treat medieval bookbindings from the standpoint of the book-as-object, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding sheds new light on the making of early books, and offers many insights into this subject. Throughout, Szirmai contests much conventional wisdom…Szirmai’s meticulous account will surely become essential reading for everyone responsible for the safekeeping of medieval books and their bindings.’
The NPO Journal

‘Every aspect of this book is superb: The scholarship is meticulous, the language clear and graceful, the diagrams of structures are right there whenever a point needs to be illustrated, and the book itself is well printed (in Plantin, on acid-free paper) and well bound. . . Each chapter has voluminous notes, and there is a long bibliography and detailed index.’
Abbey Newsl. V.24 #2

‘… a work of great scholarship.’

‘This is a technical book that is hard to put down. Reading it, and then trying to describe it to another person is like trying to describe the Grand Canyon to someone who has never seen it: in the end, you can only say, “You had to be there to understand.”’
Abbey News

‘The author should be congratulated with the publication of this book, written with an extraordinary clarity, accessible to both learned codicologists and practising restorers… Finally, it should be clearly stated that it would be highly desirable to have this book translated into Russian, since no work of this scope with such significance for both restorers and archaeologists has ever been published here.’
Restoration of Museak Treasures

‘Dr Szirmai has filled gap of long standing in the history of the book. No comprehensive study of medieval bookbinding structure exists and certainly not one that is so detailed and wide ranging…An excellent and extensive bibliography and a detailed index contribute to making this a first-rate work of reference…above all, this is the sort of book that is only produced once in a generation, if that often. All book historians owe Dr Szirmai an enormous debt of gratitude for having written it.”
The Library

‘The monograph is a unique synthesis of a lifelong experience, a thorough study of literature and of the documentation of extensive fieldwork. In addition to these fundamental values it is extremely significant for the methodology and the terminology. Invaluable also is the bibliography, comprising 604 items on 26 pages.’
Arts and Crafts, Prague

‘While comparisons are not possible with a book which stands alone in its scope and scrupulous presentation of its material, it can be said that more than anything published so far in this field, it stands as a statement of what is currently known of the subject.’
Nicholas Pickwood. TLS

‘…a mine of information, much of which is either available nowhere else or in journals or languages not accessible to any but the most dedicated researchers. It deserves to be on the shelves of any individual or institution that concerns itself with the medieval book.’
Nicholas Pickwood. TLS

‘Le ‘Szirmai’ sera incontournable pour tout étudiant manuscrit.’
Veronika von Büren, Aevum

‘…very readable and excellently illustrated narrative that leaves the student with a compelling interest in the meaning of early bookbindings and a poignant appreciation of the uncertainties of their survival.’
Libraries and Culture

‘…a book literally without peer….It is this passionate interest that has enabled (Szirmai) to assemble this remarkable history…’
Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America

‘Dr Szirmai’s book is strikingly complete, concise, and balanced; even where I thought I knew the primary sources well, I found my understanding of them was improved after using this book. The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding is the most important single contribution to the history of bookbinding to appear for many decades, and should be a foundation-piece in any collection of books on the history of binding or binding structure.’
Guild of Booksellers Newsletter

Visit our website for more information on this and other books about book history.

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