Shelf Talk: Deckle Edges In Books


Welcome to Shelf Talk, a bi-weekly discussion post that covers a variety of topics including, but not limited to, gardening, video games, cooking, crafting and of course books. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see on future Shelf Talk posts, leave it in the comments or send me an email, and I’ll do my best to cover that topic in the future.

Let’s talk deckle edges.

If you are like me, at least up until recently, you might not know what a deckle edge is. In fact, up until a few weeks ago I had never even heard of the term, let alone knew what it meant. According to Wikipedia a deckle edge is “a type of paper, with rough-cut edges, used in the book trade”.

Honestly, there were a few times when I saw books with rough edged pages while at the book store, but I thought it was a mistake. Like that one book slipped through the process somehow, and they shipped it to the store anyway. So, if I saw a book like that, I would avoid it.

I did end up buying one book with deckle edges because I had no other choice. I had been looking for a copy of The All-Girl Filling Stations Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, and the store only had one copy of it. When I picked it up, I noticed the edges were rough, and nearly put it back on the shelf, willing to wait til a properly made one was available. But I really wanted to read it, so I sucked it up and bought the book. The book sat on my shelf for many months before I finally read it because the page edges bothered me. And let me tell you, when I did finally read it, I was so annoyed at the book for that little flaw. Those deckle edged pages are a bitch to turn!

Of course, at the time I didn’t realize that they had deliberately left the edges rough. Had I known that this was intended and not simply a design flaw, I would have left the book at the store and waited for a different version of the book – you know, one with smooth edged pages.

Now that I am educated on the ways of the deckle edge, I can go about buying my books with the knowledge that it’s not a mistake and if I see a book with them, I can either suck it up and deal with them or I can wait for difference printing of the book and hope that one doesn’t have deckle edges. Or I could buy the e-book if I’m really desperate, but honestly I don’t care for e-books – but that is a whole other topic that I will discuss another time.

So what is your opinion on deckle edges? Love them, hate them, or are you possibly indifferent towards them? Did you know they were a thing and not a mistake?


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