What is Bookbinding?

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

Bookbinding consists of many different types of work, particularly in North America where it can be difficult to specialize and make a living. Most people in the field do a variety of work, including restoration and repair, as well as constructing special format gift books (such as guest books and albums), and book enclosures.  Many 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 bookbinding but there are some. Many earn a substantial portion of their income from binding. There are practically no institutional or commercial jobs in hand bookbinding, but neither is it solely a hobby; for many it is something done 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 List of Suppliers

  • John Neal Bookseller 1833 Spring Garden St., First Floor, Greensboro  NC 2740
  • Oak Knoll Books 310 Delaware St., New Castle, DE 19720

Most Materials, Tools, PVA
  • Geo.Hill & Co., Milton ON
  • BookMakers 8601 Rhode Island Ave, College Park MD USA 20740
  • Talas 330 Morgan Ave. Brooklyn NY USA 11211
  • J Hewit's & Sons, 12 Nettlehill Road, Houstoun Industrial Estate, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 5DL, Scotland 

Wheat Starch Paste

  • (most of the above)

Corn Starch for Paste
  • grocery stores

Methyl Cellulose
  • wallpaper stores

  • The Japanese Paper Place Toronto (Etobicoke) ON
    By appointment only: 416-538-9669
  • La Papeterie St. Armand 3700 rue #01 St Patrick, Montreal QC H4E 1A2
  • AuPapier Japonais 24 Fairmount Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, H2T 2M1
    Tel: 514-276-6863
  • The Paper Place 887 Queen St. West, Toronto ON M6J 1G5

Other papers, brushes, matt board
  • local art supply stores

Davey board, bookcloth, bookbinding supplies

  • Harmatan and Oakridge Leathers Westfields Ave., Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, England NN10 8AX
  • J Hewit's & Sons, 12 Nettlehill Road, Houstoun Industrial Estate, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 5DL, Scotland 

Woodworking Tools

Adapted Spoke Shave
  • Don Taylor 222 Islington Ave, Unit 224, Toronto ON M8V 3W7

Horton press, finishing press, lying press, backing tool
  • Rose Newlove & Eugene Fedorenko 76 Durie St., Toronto ON  M6S 3E8

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