If you haven’t yet come across the term ‘anthropodermic bibliopegy’ then that makes you and… pretty much everybody else. But in honour of Halloween, let’s absorb this extra piece of semi-useless knowledge, because anthropodermic bibliopegy is the binding of books. Here’s the catch: the binding is made of human skin.

Rest assured that this is not something that we need worry about when picking up beautiful hardbacks in the local used bookstore. I generally like to assume that my book purchases are free of human remains and there doesn’t seem any reason to doubt this. So far, there have only been 17 verified instances in the world of books being bound with human skin.

Perhaps the spookiest example we have here in the UK is an account of the 1821 murder of Eliza Balsum. The binding was made from the murderer’s skin after he was hanged… Pretty creepy…

Upon reflection, it doesn’t seem to me any more ghoulish than having an urn full of ashes on your shelf. I must nonetheless admit that I’m glad that anthropodermic bibliopegy hasn’t caught on. (Just imagine if every celebrity had a special edition memoir printed upon passing.)

It would certainly mark an unforeseen development in the publishing industry!

Happy Halloween everybody!

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