Half-leather bookbinding uses leather on the spine and corners of the book. Meanwhile, another material, like paper, covers the remaining part of the cover. This binding style was popular for books that required durability and visual appeal, such as Bibles, dictionaries, and reference books. Limited editions, fine press books, and other collectible or high-quality volumes also use half-leather bookbinding.
The purpose behind employing a half-leather binding serves two objectives. Firstly, it creates a sturdier construction for heavily used books like reference materials. Secondly, it enhances the visual appearance, which makes it perfect for prominently displaying presentation copies or gift books.
There are multiple reasons why mass-produced books moved away from using half-leather binding. Firstly, they are more costly than all-cloth or all-paper bindings. Also, leather ages poorly when exposed to light and air, making half-leather bindings more susceptible to wear.
There are two primary reasons why half-leather bindings have become less prevalent lately. First, the emergence of cheaper synthetic materials with increased endurance has made all-cloth binding more common for durable books. Secondly, the popularity of paperback formats has led publishers to opt for visually appealing all-cloth bindings instead.
Despite these drawbacks, many avid book collectors and enthusiasts of fine binding still value half-leather bindings. These bindings can be aesthetically pleasing and offer better durability than all-cloth or all-paper alternatives.