The book arts encompass a wide variety of skills related to book production, from traditional skills like papermaking, bookbinding, letterpress printing, to cutting edge artistic experiments with book design. The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center holds an appealing cross-section of these arts, including artists' books, fine bindings, and novel book structures.
Artists' books are produced by artists and intended as visual art objects themselves. They are often produced from unusual materials and feature novel book structures.
Miniature books or microscopic books are books 10 centimeters or less in both height and width.
Toy books—also called manipulative books, participation books, novelty books, pop-up books, movable books, etc.—are books that have movable parts or that need to be assembled. They are a popular format for children's books, and you can find a number of toy books in our Historical Children's Book Collection and Encyclopaedia Britannica Collection of Children's Literature.
Bookbinding is a largely undercelebrated craft, but one that has an outsize impact on a person's experience of a book. A book’s spine, covers, edges, even its shape, all say something about where that particular text comes from, who it may be speaking to, and how it may be regarded by the people who made it, bought it, sold it, and owned it—now and in the past.
Special Collections holds a number of bindings crafted by noteworthy women bookbinders, from the Guild of Women-Binders and their contemporary Sarah Prideaux around the turn of the 20th century, to living book artists like Karen Hanmer. Check out our work-in-progress list of books in the collection bound by women.
Decorated papers are a crucial part of the art of bookbinding. Paper may be decorated through a variety of processes. Marbled paper, paste paper, Dutch gilt or brocade paper, and block printed paper are commonly used to cover books or to line the insides of the covers.