The use of human skin to bind books would disgust us today, but it
was fairly widely practiced up until about 200 years ago, particularly
with medical books.
In centuries gone by, doctors who wrote medical books would
sometimes specify that they be bound in human skin. Some doctors even
participated in the preparation of human skin for use in book binding.
Dr John Hunter (1728-1793), the famous anatomist, father of British
scientific surgery, and the person after whom the London Museum of the
Royal College of Surgeons of England is named, reputedly commissioned a
textbook on dermatology to be bound in human skin.
The skin used was often that of a flogged prisoner who was later executed, particularly a murderer.