Printed Page Bookshop
June 2022

"Anthropodermic bibliopegy":  Something about book binding you probably didn't want to know
If a creature has run, hopped, slithered or swum on this planet, at some point its skin has been used to bind a book.  Stingray, monkey, ostrich and shark have all clothed literature.  The 'sympathetic' form of bibliopegy (bookbinding) matches the written material with appropriate outer material.  "Moby Dick" has been bound in whale, for example, and "Das Kapital" has been bound in boa constrictor. (All this can be found in wonderfully entertaining book, "The Madman's Library," Chronicle Books, 2020.)
Of course, it's not just the binders who have cut swathes through the animal kingdom.  Before the development of paper, parchment was sourced from sheep, calves and goats.  Vellum is made from the softer skin of young lambs and calves.  On average, between 50 and 75 sheep were needed to produce enough parchment for a medieval manuscript Bible.
And then there's human skin bindings -- "anthropodermic bibliopegy" if you want to bring the subject up during dinner.  As weird it is to modern sensibilities, skin was once an acceptable decorative extra, particularly when used to bind accounts of murderers and to grace medical studies.  The bulk of known human-skin examples were produced from the late 1600s through the late 1800s.  The practice may have reached its peak furing the episode of the French Revolution known at the Reign of Terror, when an estimated 40,000 peple were execucted and the country was overwhelmed by corpses.  A state committee gave permission to a tannery to secretly process the "valuable resource."  Several volumes of the French Constitution thus came to be bound in skin. 
Criminals' skin was a favorite for book binding as well.  A English murderer, William Burke, was hanged in 1829.  His body was publicly dissected at a local college, during which a professor dipped his pen into Burke's blood and wrote a note.  Part of Burke's skin was used to make a wallet.  A larger piece was used to make the pocketbook shown above. 
Not surprisingly, libraries don't like to advertise that they have anthropodermic books, but we do know that the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has five of them.  It constitutes the world's largest collection.  If you visit, wear long sleeves and pants so you don't give anyone any ideas.

Join us the evening of June 30 for savings and fun
Now that it appears safe to go out again, we invite you to our first after-hours soiree in a couple of years.  It's Thursday,  June 30 from 5:30 to 8 pm.  We'll have food and drink and lots of book-talk, all free.  We'll also discount all purchases by 10%.We do want to limit the size, though, so please RSVP to theshop@printedpagebookshop if you plan to attend! 

This Month's Puzzler
On June 16, 1938, this woman was born in Lockport, New York. Educated in a one-room elementary school in the far western part of the state, she began writing at age 14 on a typewriter given to her by he grandmother. While attending Syracuse University (from which she graduated as class valedictorian in 1960) she dazzled English department faculty members with
her ability to write. She even became something of a legend when it was learned that she had written several complete novels, only to destroy them immediatel upon completion because she considered them training exercises.

After publishing her first collection of short stories in 1963 and her first novel in 1964, she cranked out books at an almost astonishing pace, all while working as a college professor (first at the University of Windsor, then at Princeton). With over 100 books published, she'd won numerous awards and had 
been nominated multiple times for both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize. In 2001, "We Were the Mulvaneys" was the first pick of the season in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.

When most people develop an interest in a subject, they read a book; this prolific
author wrote one--on such wide-ranging topics as law, medicine, politics, and
religion. The author of hundreds of short stories and several acclaimed memoirs,
she tried her hand at historical novels on Jeffrey Dahmer ("Zombie" in
1995) and Marilyn Monroe ("Blonde" in 2000). In the early 1980s, she began to

recall some fond childhood memories of her father introducing her to "the sweet
science" of boxing. Sure enough, a few years later, she came out with a book on
the topic: "On Boxing" (1987). That book included a number of memorable
quotations, including this one:

"I can entertain the proposition that life is a metaphor for boxing-- for one of those bouts that go on and on, round following round, jabs, missed punches, clinches, nothing determined, again the bell and again and you and your opponent so evenly matched it's impossible not to see that your opponent is you."

Who is this woman? (Answer below)

Susan Klarich wins Kirkpatrick prize
"America:  How We Got Here, and How's It's Going," is the title of a book collection that won Susan Klarich, 29, the $1,000 Taylor C. Kirkpatrick Prize for Book Collecting. This is the second year of the prize, which is awarded annually to a collector under 30.  The prize was established by Denver bibliophile and philanthropist Taylor Kirkpatrick. 
Susan's collection reflects her curiousity about how our government actually functions.  "I seek out texts that shine a light through some of these policies, long-held beliefs, and worldly goals, as well as those that relate how individual voices representing the population -- those who truly are our country -- have made significant contributions to how the US functions today,"  she said.
The judges -- including one from Printed Page -- were impressed with Susan's focus.  Susan and several other entrants will be recognized at a reception June 22.

Puzzler answer

Joyce Carol Oates.  If you like our Puzzler, find more on our Facebook page.  
Thanks to Dr. Mardy Grothe for the use of his puzzler.  Visit him at

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