Many books back then were the hardcovers (dustjackets and all), and there was a right way and a wrong way to open them for the first time.
Yes, there's a right and wrong way. Open a hardbound book the wrong way and you risked breaking the spine. Broken-spined books make little puppies cry. Books do not fare well with a broken spine, as that is the point where they are most likely to start falling apart. A hardbound book is designed to last a very long time, but one must ease the spine open at the beginning
In every library I've ever worked in, when we got new hardbound books, we'd gently ease them open with the method you see below because guaranteed some ham-fisted patron would unintentionally maul the poor thing on first opening.
|Lifehacker shows you how to open a hardback book.|
Her Grace hasn't had a new hardbound book in a long time. It's all perfect-bound paperbacks nowadays... Not that she can afford a nice, new hardbound book. Once upon a time she learned how to do hardbinding. She's tempted to bind up a legacy bibliography shelf copy of HEYC, dustjacket and all.