This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
what is the origin of this expression as applied to books
Submitted by Galia Kut (Jerusalem - Israel)
Signature: Topic imported and archived
The term is first cited in 1889 and seems to have been a US coinage.
Signature: Jonathon Green