IMG_0288Book Expo America happened last week, so the world is being filled up with yet more canvas book bags. We all have dozens of them stuffed in the back of closets. This was the week to add to your collection. Here’s the entrance to the show on Saturday when BookCon, the part of the exhibition open to the public took place.

It was ever thus, though I’ll admit we don’t have hard evidence of medieval booksellers manufacturing bags with their logo for their customers’ books. Below is a bag I saw in the Deutsches Museum in Munich in 2011.

Beutelbuch.  Medieval portable reading

Beutelbuch. Medieval portable reading


Erik Kwakkel did a recent post on medieval book bags, boxes and carriers. I expect that at a time when your bookseller would tend to be selling you an unbound set of folded sheets, it might have been quite common that when you got your book bound up you might get your binder to make a carrying case as well if you wanted to lug the book around with you. Nowadays I guess the equivalent in the world of commerce is the cover for your Kindle or iPad.

UnknownThe type of leather schoolbag we used to have in Britain to haul our books to and from school appears now to have degenerated into a fashion item. (We also had to wear those caps identifying our school — no doubt so that trouble-makers out and about could easily be traced back to source. I do remember that once when I was engaged in a fight in the middle of the street with a neighboring bruiser, our bikes and schoolbags strewn about us, — traffic just drove around us; this sort of thing wasn’t that unusual — a lady acquaintance of both contestants passed by. Knee-jerkedly polite, we interrupted our fight, raised our caps, and then resumed battle.) The bag often came with a pair of shoulder straps, in the manner of the back pack which now seems to have colonized this ecological niche in the school world. Filled with books, it would have made a devastating offensive weapon, but the ethics of street fighting forbad its use.