Book breaking, a practice which is the bane of bibliophile
s, is when a person or institution (usually a dealer
but on rare occasions even a library
will do it) will remove the binding of a book or tear out individual pages. This was done because maps and illustrations in old books could be sold as individual pieces, often for many times the value of the intact book. This has been happening for centuries, but it reached a fever pitch
in recent decades as interest in these pieces (and thus prices) increased and free spending nouveau riche
needed something to spend their money on. Antiquaries
dealer Graham Arader
is often reviled as the scapegoat
for this practice, and in the 1970s and 80s he probably did it more than anyone else.
In recent years, the practice has decreased dramatically as the value of intact books has caught up with the value of the maps and plate
s and the supply of complete books has dwindled. Nowadays, usually only already incomplete books are broken.