Books for show

A while ago, I griped about visiting a home libary holding several stories of matching leatherbound books, arrayed to display the wealth and culture of the owner. The pages were still uncut. The books weren’t for reading.
In fact, early generations of printed books in the Renaissance (mid-1400s) were produced and purchased for this purpose. Agents purchased copies of these new luxury items, produced with custom illustration, and bound identically in expensive leather with precious metal and jewels, to display the wealth of their noble, ecclesiastical, or merchant clients.
A century later, books were produced in print runs of 1000 or more, serving a growing audience of readers and scholars. Letters served as a very slow search engine — readers wrote their colleagues, asking where they might find the latest edition edition of a new classical translation or new scholarly text.
from Worldly Goods by Lisa Jardine, a history of the Renaissance through material culture.

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