Why do we have two title pages?

Q: I have a lot of books at home and all the books have a half-title and then they have a title page with the name of book and author. Why do books have to have both a half-title page and a title page? – Lauren

 Thanks for your question, Lauren. The two title pages are a holdover from the 1800s. Back then, unbound books were delivered from the printer to a bookbinder, usually in a separate building, so the printer typically added a blank page on top of the book to protect the real title page; later, printers began to print just the title on that blank page so the bookbinder could more easily identify the unbound book. Though unnecessary with today’s printing technology, most books retain the half-title page because the title page is full of lots of dull but legally necessary information and so is a bit unsightly as the first page of a book that a reader would open to.