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unopened pages

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I'm curious if anyone has information about books bound with unopened pages.
>From what I've read, these were bound with the signatures unopened so that
the buyer could either cut them themselves with a paper knife or take them
to a binder to have the edges nicely cut or ploughed.

There are several questions that come to mind: Were these books produced as
inexpensive editions? (Seems like that would be the case, but it seems like
a contradiction to take a cheap book to a fine binder for finishing)  About
what time was this practice prevalent? When you see someone opening pages
with a knife in a movie (so it must be true...) as in The House of Mirth,
the book is always fully bound - which seems like it would make it difficult
to impossible for a binder to then plough the text block. (?) I would have
thought that books bound this way would be in a temporary paper wrapper.

If anyone can point me to a reference book that addresses these things, I
would be grateful.

Best wishes,

Pendleton, Oregon

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