What is 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.


CBBAG’s education mandate focuses on high-standard traditional hand bookbinding and contemporary book arts. Many of the traditional methods that are taught are based on European letterpress binding and date from before the mechanization of bookbinding.


Many of the CBBAG instructors are passionate about sustaining the craft of producing finely made books. 


Bookbinding can be complicated and difficult, but it is very creative and rewarding, whether you are creating a new work of art or restoring an old one. It is endlessly fascinating and challenging.


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

There are not a great many bookbinders 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 very few 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.


Bookbinders 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 have the money to hire anyone. There are some courses at various education institutions, but only CBBAG has been consistently offering this specialist training since its founding in 1983.


Conservators from across Canada have taken CBBAG workshops to allow them to expand their expertise in book conservation. 

 

Where can I learn more?

Education programmes

CBBAG offers a variety of workshops both online and an in-person across Canada. Other programmes can be found on the Education page. 


Books

  • Burdett, Eric. The Craft of Bookbinding: a Practical Guide
  • Greenfield, Jane. ABC of Bookbinding
  • Hanmer, KarenContemporary Paper Bindings - a guide to bookbinding techniques, tools and materials
  • Johnson, Arthur. The Thames and Hudson Manual of Bookbinding
  • Michel, Jacques. La reliure - Fiches techniques
  • Lindsay, Jen. Fine Bookbinding: a technical guide
  • Lock, Margaret. Bookbinding Materials and Techniques 1700-1920
  • Szirmai, S.J. The Archeology of Medieval Bookbinding
  • Wiese, Fritz. Der Bucheinband
  • Young, Laura. Bookbinding & Conservation by Hand a working guide
  • Zeier, Franz. Books, Boxes and Portfolios


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