Some Bookbinding Frequently Asked Questions

(inlcudes: Brief Reading and Suppliers lists)

I would like some information on bookbinding. What it is? I love old books but never thought about bookbinding.

Bookbinding consists of many different types of work, particularly in North America where few can specialize and make a living. Most people in the field do restoration and repair of books for their basic living, since there are not too many early or important books in Canada which need a full conservation treatment and not many are willing to pay for it.

In addition to this, many make blank books, guest books, photo albums, the binding or rebinding in special format of gift books or other books which matter to customers, boxes, or a great variety of other requests. Many, many of the binders now are using one or more the book arts (hand binding, fine printing, calligraphy, box making, paper decorating, papermaking, artists books) as an art form.

Are there jobs in this field or is it more of hobby?

There are not a great many binders in Canada working full time and earning their entire income from binding but there certainly are some. Many earn a substantial portion of their income from binding. There are practically no institutional or commercial jobs in hand binding but neither is it solely a hobby, although for many it is something they do for pleasure and often in conjunction with other art fields, such as calligraphy.

Binders in Canada have to set up for themselves and find work for themselves. They have to, in effect, become a small business and some in various parts of the country have successfully done so.

CBBAG is often asked about bookbinding apprenticeships. There is no formal apprenticeship programme in bookbinding in Canada. Generally most binders cannot afford the time to train anyone nor the money to hire anyone.

Recommended Reading List


Burdett, Eric. The Craft of Bookbinding: a Practical Guide.
Vancouver: David and Charles, 1977.

Johnson, Arthur, The Thames and Hudson Manual of Bookbinding.
London: Thames and Hudson 1981.


Middleton, Bernard C., A History of English Craft Bookbinding Techniques.
London: The Holland Press, 1978.

Szirmai, J.A., The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding.
Ashgate: Aldershot, England 1999.


Greenfield, Jane, ABC of Bookbinding.
Delaware:Oak Knoll Press/New York:The Lyons Press, 1998

Robert, Matt T., and Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books, a Descriptive Terminology.
Washington: Library of Congress,1982.


Brown, Margaret R., with Don Etherington and Linda K. Ogden,
Boxes for the Protection of Rare Books, their Design and Construction.
Washington: Library of Congress, 1982.

Zeier, Franz, Books, Boxes and Portfolios.
Design Press/Tab Books/McGraw Hill, 1990

Brief Suppliers List

For more suppliers check CBBAGBook Arts Suppliers list (CBBAG membership benefit)


John Neal Bookseller
1833 Spring Garden St., Greensboro, NC 27403
336-272-6139, 800-369-9598

Oak Knoll Books
310 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720

Most Materials and Tools

6701B Lafayette Ave., Riverdale MD 20737

568 Broadway Ave, New York, NY 10012

Pierre Thibaudeau
R.R.1, Grantley Rd., Chesterville, Ont. K0C 1H0

Wheat Starch Paste

any of the above

Corn Starch for Paste

grocery stores

Methyl Cellulose

wallpaper stores


Sydney R. Stone
388 Evans Ave., Toronto, Ont. M8Z 1K7
800-668-6055, 416-251-6546

La Papeterie St. Armand
3700 rue St Patrick, Montreal, Quebec
514-931-8338, fax 514-931-5953
stock binders board as well

Japanese paper, bone folders, book cloth, Eska board

Japanese Paper Place
77 Brock Ave, Toronto, Ont. M6K 2L3
By appointment only: 416-538-9669

Japanese paper

AuPapier Japonais
24 Fairmount Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H2T 2M1

Western papers, brushes, matt board

local art supply stores

Davey board, bookcloth (in quantity)

Columbia Finishing Mills
135 Boundary Rd. Box 546, Cornwall, Ont., K6H 6H7
800-267-9174, 613-933-7717

La Papeterie St. Armand
3700 rue St Patrick, Montreal, Quebec
514-931-8338, fax 514-931-5953

Woolfitt’s Art Supply
1153 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M6J 1J4
416-536-7878, 800-490-3567


Campbell-Logan Bindery212 Second St. North, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1423
800-942-6224, 612-332-1316


Maurice Norro
rue Mignot Delstanche 72, 1060 Brussels, Belgium
(02) 344-97-28

Westfields Ave., Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, England NN10 8AX
019 33 412151

Adapted Spoke Shave

Don Taylor
176 John St., Suite 511, Toronto, Ont. M5T 1X5

Brockman Leather Parer

James Brockman
High Ridge, Ladder Hill, Wheatley, Oxon, England OX33 1HY
1865 875279

Horton press, finishing press, lying press, backingtool

Rose Newlove & Eugene Fedorenko
76 Durie St., Toronto, Ont M6S 3E8

Restoration and Repair FAQs