Why do the pages to some hardback books have uneven, ragged edges?
July 22, 2007 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Why do the pages to some hardback books have uneven, ragged edges?

I see this occasionally with contemporary hardbacks. It seems like a stylistic thing, perhaps to recall the days when the way books were bound necessitated that some of the pages had to be sliced open before they could be read. Is this purely an aesthetic decision, or is there some underlying functionality?
posted by solipsophistocracy to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
See this askme.
posted by djb at 11:47 AM on July 22, 2007

It may be a purely aesthetic choice, but I know it makes the pages easier to turn, for me.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 12:08 PM on July 22, 2007

Best answer: As the previous askme notes, it's a deckle edge. It's a design choice, meaning it has both a potentially aesthetic function and a potentially practical one. Some like the looks and some think it makes paging through the book easier. It has an interesting past involving style, suspicion, and nostalgia. Books used to come with the signatures folded, but not cut. The person purchasing the book would cut the pages themselves often leaving a deckle look. And some publishers trimmed excessively, or "cropped" pages. This would often leave little margin and the was thought the product of cost-cutting by the publisher. These days it's produced artificially at the discretion of the designer. I like it on some books. Fiction usually. Not so much on an illustrated book.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:24 PM on July 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. Sorry for the redundancy. Apparently my search skills are somewhat lacking.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:52 PM on July 22, 2007

I worked as a book scanner in an academic library a while back, and ran into many an older book (esp. 1860-1900) in which the vast majority of pages were uncut. We would cut them with a letter opener to scan the contents.

A strange feeling, to know you're the first person to read a copy of a 100+ year old book.
posted by onshi at 9:45 PM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

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