One hour and eleven minutes of me trying not to swear

The awesome Laura Dawson invited me to do a webinar on the basics of book design, as part of a series for Bowker’s Our kindly hosts/co-presenters at Data Conversion Laboratory have posted a video of the session, so now you can follow along with bated breath as I try to remember not to say “fuck” for more than an hour.1 Can she do it? Watch the video to find out!

Because the video is video and my slides are about fiddly details, I’ve made my segment of the presentation into a PDF, so you can see what I’m talking about: “Making Beautiful Books” webinar slides (2 MB)
Continue reading “One hour and eleven minutes of me trying not to swear”

  1. Yes, my portion of the presentation ran about fifteen minutes too long, because I hadn’t timed it beforehand and couldn’t see my system clock while screen-sharing the slides from PowerPoint. Sorry, Allan. []

“books do certain things well and digital technologies do other things well”

There’s a fab article hidden behind the Chronicle of Higher Education paywall:

Some years ago, Terry Belanger found a striking way to reveal the reverence that many citizens of the digital age continue to feel for old books. It is a sentiment he finds fascinating but only rarely appropriate or useful. Belanger, who retired in September as director of an educational institute called Rare Book School but who continues to teach there, brings an old volume to class, speaks about its binding and typography, and then, still discussing the book, rips it in half and tears it into pieces. As his horrified students watch in disbelief, Belanger tosses the shards into a nearby trash can and murmurs, “Bibliography isn’t for sissies.”

The Book Mechanic: A modern sensibility binds Terry Belanger to old, rare volumes, by Andrew Witmer (Chronicle Review 41, December 6, 2009).

(Via Guy, who got it from @roncharles)
Continue reading ““books do certain things well and digital technologies do other things well””

California, here I come!

book bindings

Now I know what I’ll be doing next time I’m in SF: Tim James of Taurus Bookbindery has opened the American Bookbinders Museum. The Chronicle reports.

In the museum sits an 800-pound Imperial arming press from 1832 that James bought and had shipped from France three years ago. Asked how expensive that was, he answers “frightfully,” declining to elaborate. James has been working on the museum for 15 years, accumulating paper cutters, paper samples, lettering tools, contraptions for lining blank paper, photos, manuals, and union pins from the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders.

Earlier this year he attained nonprofit status and started giving tours by appointment. In August he opened to the public. Admission is free and on Saturdays binder Tom Conroy is there working in the traditional fashion.

Even if you’re not going to San Francisco in the foreseeable future, do look at their website, which includes, among other things, a database of books annotated with salty comments such as,

First, one hopes
This may not be the most utterly useless self-published book ever written on binding your own books; and it may not be the very worst bound. It must, however, be in the final running for both prizes.
Covers heavily cockled, pages cockled at gutter, from poor binding technique

(On A How-To Guide: Bookbinding from Home)

Have any of you dear readers yet been there? If so, please report.

(Thanks, Jack!)

from the Guardian

They’ve been doing a lot of nifty slide shows at the Guardian. Here are four recent ones:

  1. British Library launches online newspaper archive

    We Buy False Teeth

    As you may have guessed, I love this kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the archive website’s not working—at least, for me. I click on links and get nothing but error messages. I’ve written to Gale’s tech support, but I’d be interested to know if the site’s working for other people, especially those in the UK.

  2. Continue reading “from the Guardian”

The Motherlode of Vintage Bookbinding History

swirly bindings

Earlier this week, Miss Sheila Ryan, archivist extraordinaire, drew my attention to the 2008 winner of the award for Best Online Archival Exhibition, as reported by Kate Theimer at “Publishers’ Bindings Online, 1815–1930: The Art of Books,” created by the University of Alabama, University Libraries, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.

It has taken me so long to blog the news because this collection is sick—sick, I tell you: more than five thousand books, in various states of decay. Some are fabulous; some are homely; it would take weeks to look at them all. Every time I thought I had a good selection with which to illustrate this post, I’d find twenty more that I love.

The only problem with this archive? You can’t bookmark specific pages within the collection, as you have to have a valid session ID. And if you let your browser sit idle for too long, your session times out. Maddening! If anyone can find a way around this, please let me know. I’ve been dumping covers into Flickr so I can find them again.

More samples after the jump . . .
Continue reading “The Motherlode of Vintage Bookbinding History”

Book restoration in the Adirondacks

Walden binding by Jack Fitterer and Taff Mace

Bridget sent a link to a sweet article from Adirondack Life about Jack Fitterer, a book restorer and binder in upstate New York: Page Turners: The art and craft of bookbinding in Indian Lake.

The earliest volume they’ve mended is a 15th-century prayer book with minute channels chewed through the pages by generations of actual bookworms. “Wormholes get little patches of Japanese tissue,” explains Jack. Repairs like this are visible, and he says, “Everything doesn’t have to be pristinely restored. It’s possible to over-restore things. Our goal is to keep a book’s integrity but make it something a modern person can touch and even read.”

It’s a short article with few photos, unfortunately, but there is the promise of more goodies at the Fitterers’ site (“under construction”):

In the future, this page will present a series of reflections on Books and Bookbinding. Some of the topics will include “How does restoration affect the value of a book?”, “How should I best store and display my books?”, “What repairs can I do myself?”, “Should I use leather dressing on my books?”

Keep an eye on it.