A miniature book (mini book, micro book) is a very small book whose features and typography are adapted to its small format, but which must also remain legible. The standards for what can be called a miniature rather than just a small book have changed over time. Nowadays, collectors in particular only consider a book to be a miniature if its size is no more than 100 × 100 mm or 3 to 4 inches or less.
Miniature books are as old as the history of writing and books. After the invention of printing technology, book printers began to test the limits of what was feasible. Around 200 miniature books were printed as early as the 16th century. In the 19th century, technological innovations allowed the creation of smaller fonts and spawned a new wave of miniature books.
There are highly valuable miniature books, decorated with gilt edging, bound in the finest leather and lavishly illustrated, but they are also available as commercial mass-produced goods. In the Victorian era, miniature etiquette books were very popular with women because they were easy to carry with you. One of the world’s most famous miniature books is Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation of Emancipation” from 1863. The first edition of the text was printed as a miniature book and it is estimated that one million copies were distributed to Union troops during the American War of Independence.
The most popular types of miniature books across the ages include Bibles, encyclopedias, dictionaries, short stories, verses, travel guides, almanacs, children’s stories, editions of world literature, and erotica.
Today there are also publishers who specialize in the publication and artistic design of miniature books. The modern production of miniature books is aimed at collectors who organize themselves in national and international associations and societies and who cultivate the miniature book as part of the book culture.
The digitization of miniature books poses special challenges. In order to digitize miniature books optimally, a high-end scanning technology with the best resolution, high depth of field and professional, gentle book cradle with V-pressure is required, since this type of book can usually only be opened with a very small angle.