Friday, July 11, 2008

Ragged Edge

Years ago, I had a customer approach me and tell me that a book seemed to have "a rather ragged cut for $24." He held the book up to me, topside pointing in my direction, the plane of the pages opposite the binding at eye level. And, yes, the edges were not trimmed clean. They dipped and rose in hills and valleys.

This was early on in my shelving/bookselling career, and I didn't really have the lingo down. I think my response was a meek little: "No, they meant to do that." He gave me a look of incredulity and moved on.

Later, I learned to refer to said untrimmed edge as "deckle." Said with enough authority ("Oh, sure. That's a deckle edge. It's a design choice."), it placates customers.

Powell's blogger, why must you muddy my waters?

Our geeked-out conversation about fore-edges led, of course, down the dark bibliographic road to the term "deckle edges." John Carter defines the term as "the rough, untrimmed edges of a sheet of hand made paper....Much prized by collectors."

Deckle is not merely "untrimmed." It is sort of "untrimmed" on steroids. Here's what deckle edges look like:

(Check the full post for accompanying images.)

I suppose I should go back to saying "untrimmed edge," but "deckle" sounded so much more...official.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment! We love hearing from you.

tell all your friends!