For those who love hand made lace.
Lace in Fashion by Pat Earnshaw is excellent for lace and historical dress.
Can't go wrong with Lace, a history, by Santina Levey (former curator at the V&A). Scholarly but excellent and thorough.
Heather Toomer has 2 books on Lace ID and history that are both very good.
Janine Montupet's Lace, the elegant web is better than decent.
If you're looking for mostly pictures, Cynthia Voysey's 2 books, Bobbin Lace in photographs and Needle Lace in photographs are both really good with some good close ups of the lace.
There are a couple that I would say that you stay away from, as they have errors in the text, but I don't have those titles off the top of my head.
If you want good basic references on lace ID, The secrets of real lace by Elizabeth Kurella is an excellent starting point, and she has a 2nd book, but I'm drawing a blank on it's title too.
There are other books if you want to get into specifics like machine laces (Pat Earnshaw's 2 volume set), English laces (Thomas Wright, Anne Buck, for starters).
How's that for a start? :-)
Here follows Helen's list of recommended books:
Lace History books – a select bibliography, by Helen Bell, LPS Librarian
Browne, C. Lace from the Victoria and Albert Museum. V&A Publications, 2004.
Buck, A. Thomas Lester, his lace and the East Midlands Lace Industry. Ruth Bean, 1981.
Ginsburg, M. (Ed.). The illustrated history of textiles. Grammercy, 1991.
Jourdain, M. Old lace, a handbook for collectors: an account of the difference styles of lace, their history, characteristics & manufacture. Gale Research, 1991.
Levey, S. Lace, a history. Victoria & Albert Museum, 1983.
Montupet, J and Schoeller, G. Lace, the elegant web. H.N. Abrams, 1990.
Pond, G de M. An introduction to lace. Scribner, 1973.
Rowley, P. Art, trade or mystery: lace and lacemaking in Northamptonshire. The Lace Guild, 2000.
Springett, C and Springett, D. Spangles and Superstitions. The Authors, 1987.
Wright, T. The Romance of the pillow: a new edition with notes. Ruth Bean, 1982.
Earnshaw, P. Bobbin & needle laces: identification and care. B.T. Batsford, 1983.
Earnshaw, P. How to recognize machine laces.
Earnshaw, P. Lace machines and machine laces. Vol. 1. 2nd Ed. Gorse publications, 1994-1995.
Earnshaw, P. Lace machines and machine laces. Vol. 2. Gorse publications, 1995.
Kurella, E. Guide to lace and linens. Antique Trader Books, 1999.
Kurella, E. The secrets of real lace. The Lace Merchant, 1994.
Lace Arts Council for Education (L.A.C. E.) Lace: a quick guide to identification.
Reigate, E. An illustrated guide to lace. Antique collectors Club, 1986.
Toomer, H. Antique lace: identifying types and techniques. Schiffer, 2002.
Toomer, H. Lace, a guide to identifying old lace types and techniques. Schiffer, 2001.
Voysey, C. Bobbin lace in photographs. B.T. Batsford, 1987.
Voysey, C. Needle lace in photographs. B.T. Batsford, 1987.
Arnold, J. Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe unlocked. Maney Press, 1988.
Earnshaw, P. Lace in Fashion: from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. B.T. Batsford, 1985.
Kraatz, A. Lace, history and fashion. Rizzoli International, 1989.