Over on Roger Pearse's blog I read a letter from Augustine regarding a copy of the City of God he had sent a certain Firmus. What I find fascinating is that Augustine gives detailed advice on how this work is to be bound into actual volumes.
Apparantly Augustine sends the pages (and I assume these would be numbered quires) as loose items, and the recipient will have these bound into whatever format and shape afterwards.
How would this apply to some of our big Biblical manuscripts? Is it that some of the irregular quires we find in Sinaiticus or Vaticanus are intended to fascilitate the binding of these manuscripts; something that may have been the task of the ultimate buyer/recipient, rather than the scriptorium?
When we think about this a little longer, binding by the recipient makes sense. He can take care of whatever precious ornamentation and personalisation is desired (as not a few libraries in our British stately homes also show). And any addition of truly valuable material is done 'close to home' and does not need to be transported with all the attending risks.
Fascinating stuff, and it just shows that I never asked these questions because of my cultural conditioning - all the books I buy come with binding and covers included.