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Re: Bookbinding Leather Suppliers

  Well, Bonnie, and whoever else, you have gotten good advice from several
quarters, so here is another two cents worth.  While I sympathize with
the idea that there should be a way to produce good work for a medium price
range, I doubt that you'll ever get it by using poor materials to start
with.  You are facing the problem of dealing with an uneducated buyer when
you are in the business of selling books to the general public, and that
"uneducated buyer" can be a rocket scientist.  People, in general, don't
realize that for most of history the book was a luxury item.  Mass literacy
engendered the mass produced book, and one could generalize (dangerously)
by saying that the 18th and 19th century binders worked feverishly to
meet that demand.  Like termites, eating out the inner structure of the
wood leaving a surface appearance of strength, new binding techniques
carefully retained old appearances at the expense of structure.  This leaves
the modern binder trying to explain to an unbelieving public that a sound
book, one that will sustain heavy use and last a long time, costs money.
  However you choose to cope with the problem, you will need to be prepared
to do some educating for your customers.  In the long run you'll be doing
your best for them by using good materials and being prepared to justify it.
A flawed skin from a good source (as good as we can get) will still do a lot
of nice quarter binds, and if you are a good designer the "flaws" can be
"distinctive features" (this is the binder's variation on the glass that is
half full or half empty).  Remaindered scraps are like stray dogs, you don't
know where they've been.  All you can tell your buyer is that it looks nice;
all you can sell him or her is an appearance.
 One chooses a car within a price range, but it is still an educated
decision.  Would you buy a generic car, no make, no model, no year?

Dorothy C. Africa
bookbinder, Harvard Law School Library

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