We recognize the term Book + as referring to things like a book for tweens shrink-wrapped with a cheapo plastic bracelet or similar. It’s a book plus a gift. No doubt the main source for this sort of thing remains Hong Kong where not only do you have access to cheap printing, but also access to the mass production of chachkies which Chinese industry churns out. I still periodically get a catalog from an importer offering every cheap gift item you could image, and then a lot more. Books plus tend to reach the market more through special sales, though you might find some in bookshops.

Book + might however have a longer, if slightly different history when we look at these books + tools produced in medieval times. These books incorporate things like spinning arrows which you can turn to point at a part of the printed page. These had to be mounted to a hole made in the paper or parchment, and secured on the other side of the page. We all think of hand work utterly beyond any reasonable budget, but this of course is because we have developed a powerfully efficient book manufacturing industry. Hand work on a page by page basis is almost unimaginable to the modern production manager. However, if you are hand writing a manuscript, adding a bit more one-off stuff isn’t much of a gear shift. Erik Kwakkel shows us several examples.

Cog-wheel. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Digby MS 46 (14th century) – Source

Cog-wheel. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Digby MS 46 (14th century)

The nearest we get to this sort of thing nowadays is pop-up books, but these rely on paper folding tricks. Pop-up books do have to be mass produced, and every cunning trick, while often very cunning, has to be producible by machine with minimal hand work.


LATER: This piece from Atlas Obscura showing the use of flaps in early medical books is also relevant here.