A flyleaf is a blank page, often preceding or following the front matter or end matter of a book. The term originally referred to the leaf of a book, which literally means “a leaf that flies,” or “a leaf that turns over.”
Flyleaves serve a variety of purposes. In early printed books, they were used to protect the delicate engravings on the title page and frontispiece from damage. They also served as a place for the book’s owner to write their name or other identifying information.
Today, flyleaves are often used to add rigidity to the spine of a book, or to provide a place for a bookplate or bookseller’s label. They can also be used to add stability to a book when it is being rebound.
Some flyleaves are specially printed, such as those found in limited edition books. These flyleaves often bear the publisher’s logo or the book’s title and author, and are used to add collectability to the book.
Flyleaf is an important part of the book because it provides protection to the pages of the book. It also helps to keep the book looking new and fresh. Additionally, flyleaf can help to prevent pages from becoming wrinkled or damaged.
When a book’s pages are glued to its spine, a flyleaf is the first and last page of the book that is not part of the text block. The front flyleaf may contain the half-title, the frontispiece, the author’s portrait, the publisher’s imprint, the printer’s mark, the date, or any combination of these. The back flyleaf is usually blank.
In early manuscripts and incunabula, the flyleaf was often used for annotations and ownership inscriptions. These are usually found on the front flyleaf, though occasionally they are on the back flyleaf or on a blank page at the end of the text. In later books, flyleaves were sometimes used to protect the endpapers from soiling.