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Re: Leather quality thread...

  Not to belabor a dead thread, Bonnie, but to speak to the very real
questions you have raised about why people buy handmade books and in what
quality range, a couple of points struck me in what you have said.  As
several others have already commented, quality and expense are not
inseparable.  Peter has noted that good paper beats bad leather hands
down, Rick has noted that there are all kinds of leather suited to all kinds
of purposes, and Jake put in the case for the use of chrome tanned leather
when its durability is more important than a finely tooled and pared
finish (Peter again), plus some other good stuff I can't properly attribute.
  Most people, I think, interested in a cheap and temporary writing surface
will buy a machine made blank book or notebook.  So, the draw of the
handmade item, for such a person, is probably the wish for something
a little unique, maybe a little different, something it will be pleasant
to use, special to give.  None of this requires expense, but it does need
to be respected by the maker.  It sounds to me, from what you've said, that
this is the person you are trying to reach.  The problem, from my viewpoint,
is knowing, without actually talking to the buyer, is how long he or she
expects this book to last, or, if it's a gift, what the recipient will
expect.  A few folks might buy a blank book simply because it looks
pretty, a lot of blank books received as gifts are never used, but as a
bookbinder I would never take that as a basic premise in making a blank
book.  A book artist might, but I am not a book artist.  Any book I ever
make, I make to last as long as I can make it last, and I consider that
as part of my craft and a basic obligation I have to anyone who ever
receives or uses a book I have made.
 We have had lots of discussions on this list about the difference
between art and craft in bookbinding under various guises and at different
times.  These considerations are no doubt going to start another round,
but that may be all to the good.  I think we are well served when the two
are seen as co-operative.  Anyone who sells to the general public,
though, has the responsibility of advising the buyer what it is that he or
she is purchasing.  An art object and a functional book are not mutually
exclusive in most people's mind, and I think we should let them know when
we decide to separate them.  Price alone is not going to do that.
 I can see clouds of hornets rising on the horizon, Bonnie, so lets
duck and run!

Dorothy C. Africa
bookbinder, Harvard Law School Library

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