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Bookbinding on the Internet

Wow, I'm impressed my OCR software worked with no errors. I got this in my
copy of the Designer Bookbinders "Newsletter", No. 94, Spring 1996, today
and thought it might be of interest to some. I found it mildly amusing and
not a terriblyaccurate portrayal of bookbinding and the bookarts on the net.

I will be responding to them,


Some say the Internet is the end of the book as we know it. In future, you
will be able to download multimedia presentations of any story, for playing
on your computer. Fuddy-duddy paper will be tossed in the waste paper bin of

What is more likely to happen is that specialist books such as academic
texts, training manuals and such like, will go electronic very quickly, but
novels will stay on paper, largely because books are still cheaper and more
convenient than computers. In the long run, fine books are likely to become
even more desirable than at present, as they become rare objects.

In the short term, the Internet has already become a valuable source of
material for and about bookbinding and bookbinders.

A short trawl through the World Wide Web (a network of computers that you
can consult from your computer via a phone line) yielded some great material
of interest to bookbinders.
Entering 'bookbinding' in the search engine of my Net Browser (you don't
need to know what these terms mean - if you plunge into the Internet you
will find out very quickly), brought forth a list of relevant Web sites.

Top of the list was Philip Smith. A report of his visit to Canada last year
had been posted on the Web, together with some glowing colour pictures of
recent bindings, including Ravel's Le Basque and two versions of Moby Dick.
His new 'lap- back' structure (Pat Pend!) is carefully illustrated.
Academic institutions are major users of the Internet - universities took
the Internet over from its original military owners. So libraries are well
represented on the 'Net, and two were on my initial search, the royal
libraries of Holland and Denmark.

The Danish royal library page is huge, with lots of very interesting
bindings illustrated in glowing colour. I particularly liked a late medieval
volume of Jutish law, in a polaire binding looking something like a leather
sack with a knot in the end so that the book could be hung from your saddle
horn while travelling. Frankly, if I was on a long ride, Jutish law is not
the reading I would choose. Perhaps a John Grisham in a polaire designed to
hang on the arm of your airline seat .

The Royal Dutch library contains a nice selection of embroidered bindings. I
learned from the caption to a particularly splendid specimen that embroidery
was made popular by Elizabeth I, who favoured them.

It's not all art on the Internet, though. Some very practical advice is
available, including some innovative structures for binding and sources of
bookbinding materials, though for some reason these seem to be mainly in Chile.

There are some sites that are simply indexes to other sites of interest to
bookbinders, and these are a good starting point. Try the Fine Press
Bookshop Online.

There is lots of practical stuff on the Web as well. Jones on Bookbinding is
a site with lots of some good methods for reviving old paperbacks, if you
really must, but devised in consultation with the conservation department of
the University of Iowa.

Some of the advice is somewhat less authoritative. A gentleman called Brook
West has the following advice for boy scouts. Those of a sensitive
disposition are advised to stop reading right now:

"Does your "Boy Scout Handbook" look as though it has been read by a grizzly
bear? Are pages falling out of your favourite novel? Has the cover come off
of your copy of "The Hobbit?" You don't have to buy new copies. It's easy to
repair paperback books using Japanese bookbinding techniques. Just punch
four holes through the book near the spine and lash it together with needle
and thread. You can make scrapbooks or blank books this way, too.

To rebind a paperback you will need an awl or thin wire brads, heavy thread
(eight times as long as the book's height), a needle, pencil, and ruler. Use
carpet thread, strong nylon thread, or waxed dental floss. If you use wire
brads instead of an awl you'll want a small hammer. Binder clips are useful,
too. For a scrapbook or blank book cut covers from card stock or a file
folder." I'll spare you the gruesome details, but you won't win any prizes
with this sort of technique.

Chris Partridge
>>Drink and be merry, for our time is short and death lasts forever<<

Peter D. Verheyen                                   <wk> 315.443.9937
Conservation Librarian                             <fax> 315.443.9510
Syracuse University Library          <email> pdverhey@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Syracuse University               <www> http://web.syr.edu/~pdverhey/
Syracuse, NY 13244             <listmgr> Book_Arts-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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