Yes, an interesting article by Samuel Jacobs in The Crimson from 2006 got resurrected recently. It detailed what librarians would rather not become an object of morbid fascination - that some of their books are bound in human skin. Odd, right?
I imagine using skin is no different than any other hide, if you get by the cultural creepiness. When I was a kid living in the country I wanted to learn old-timey techniques so I would tan deer hide and it mostly taught me that I wanted to buy leather in a store, but if you have some deer brains and some salt and a knife, you can do it easily enough. Knowing what I know about how much work it is, I imagine using human skin must have been a labor of...love?
Credit and link: Greg Newkirk at Roadtrippers.
Example from their “Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias”:
“the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.”But is it? DNA tests say it's sheepskin, or at least "cattle and pig collagen" and Harvard experts say it was likely rebound. The others in their collection may also not be what they seem, especially based on ancient claims.
But if authentic bizarre anthropodermic bindings are really your thing, go over the bridge to the Boston Athenaeum. “The Highwayman: Narrative of the Life of James Allen alias George Walton,” is the autobiography of a man who asked it be bound in his own skin and given to a man he once attacked.
Please make your "Evil Dead" and/or "Army Of Darkness" quotes in the comments.