Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Art of Bookbinding

Image from maydaystudio's Etsy shop
The art of beautifully-bound book was in the news quite a bit toward the end of 2010, thanks to The Sentimentalists' Giller win. The novel, written by Johanna Skibsrud, was originally published by Gaspereau Press in Kentville, Nova Scotia. (I say "originally" because, although Gaspereau is still printing the novel, they also made a deal with publisher Douglas & McIntyre for a larger print run, as Gaspereau can only handle 1,000 books per week at maximum capacity. The Douglas & McIntyre version is not as aesthetically pleasing as Gaspereau's original vision). Gaspereau is a small press that takes particular pride in their bindings and the use of letter-press and/or handprinted book jackets. I was lucky enough to received a Gaspereau edition of The Sentimentalists for Christmas, and let me tell you, it is quite something to behold. Not many soft-covers come with a dust jacket, letter-pressed title and heavy-weight paper. 

Most books do not receive this kind of attention any more (and haven't for quite some time), but the crafters over at ohdeedoh have step-by-step instructions for how to improve the longevity of loved paperbacks. Their method is to create a new "hardcover" for the book, with a cloth cover, which gives is a nicer profile on the shelf as well as the chance at a longer life. If that sparks your interest (I'm quite tempted to give it a try), I suggest reading through the comments below the instructions; there are some good tips about glue and card-stock down there,

But, if your New Year's resolution is about more than aesthetics, take desktop publishing a step further and create and bind your own book from scratch. Instructions for making a casebound book are here, along with step-by-step photos. Many art shops sell book-binding tools and materials.

With the (well-deserved) interest surrounding The Sentimentalists' story and design, perhaps 2011 will be the year the beautifully-bound and designed book makes a comeback. At the very list, it could be the year of artisanal DIY.

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