Shelf Life | Newberry

Shelf Life

“Shelf Life” is a podcast from the Newberry Library about the humanities–and the humans behind them. Each episode features a new conversation with librarians, curators, and researchers about anything from the history of fake news to the secret lives of famous American authors.

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15th-Century Paperbacks

So-called “limp parchment” bindings were essentially the paperbacks of their day. In the early modern era, binding books in parchment was a cheaper alternative to binding them in wooden boards covered by leather (it was also a practical way to manage the explosion of books occasioned by the printing press in the 15th century).

Melissa Moreton, Assistant Professor with the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book, is in the midst of an ambitious survey of these types of bindings. After assembling an extensive data set, Melissa hopes to discover patterns regarding book production, commercial networks, and reading habits among 15th- and 16th-century Europeans.

Your host for this episode is Keelin Burke, Fellowships Manager at the Newberry.

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Melissa Moreton, surrounded by limp parchment bindings from the Newberry’s collection

15th-Century Paperbacks by Shelf Life, from the Newberry Library

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