Inspired by rising literacy rates and advancing technologies, the nineteenth century saw the book transform from a largely hand-made object to a mass-produced product. In this new context a book's cover took on added importance: it was no longer merely a functional protection for the pages but instead a key platform through which to communicate and sell the book. Prior to this covers had — bar a smattering of highly bespoke one-off creations (e.g. embroidered covers for personal libraries) — mostly been plain leather bound affairs. From the 1820s, with the rise of mechanical bookbinding, these leather covers of old gave way to new cloth coverings — known as publisher's bindings — which, in addition to being inexpensive, were now also printable. A wide variety of cover printing techniques were employed over the decades: from embossing to gilt to multi-colour lithography. An entirely new artistic space was opened up. It was one in which illustrators and designers thrived, producing a range of covers as eclectic in aesthetic approach as the myriad contents they fronted. From around the 1920s, the paper dust jacket — previously there to simply protect the publisher's binding — began to sport designs (and, of course, then paperbacks), but it was in the hundred years preceding, on these printed cloths, that book cover design first truly flourished.