Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Every so often a message will arrive into my inbox asking how to get started with book binding. I’m largely self taught and I welcome these questions as it can be hard to find the right information out there. I always recommend books and I think my answer often surprises people as I am still, even with the wealth of free digital information availble, a fan of books especially when it comes to learning a new craft.
I love the physical aspect of a book (no shocking revelations there I hope!); the weight of it, a tactile cover, the graphics, even the sound of pages turning. I like that it sits proudly on my book shelf, and if I need the information, it’s right there. There is no having to boot up computers, searching for links, scrolling… its just, well, there!
To go one step further, I love nothing more than a book about making books. I actually don’t think Christmas is entirely complete for me without a new juicy bookbinding or craft book to curl up with on the sofa on Christmas evening….yes, my darling husband, its a hint!
So as we hurtle speedily towards Christmas, I thought I would pull together a list of bookbinding books about making books, that you may wish to gift to your aspiring bookbinder, or drop subtle hints (or not so subtle hints, see above, there is no judgement here!) about to ‘Santa’.
Or just buy them for yourself! Seriously….. there is no judgement here!
Disclaimer: I bought all these books myself and I am not being paid to promote them. This post contains affiliated links to products I know and use. Purchases using these links will mean I receive a small cash back referral but you will not be charged. Thank you if you choose to purchase any items via these links!
Rebound by Jeannine Stein
1. Re-bound by Jeannine Stein
I love this book. It was the first bookbinding book I bought off my first ever salary way back in the day (2009 ish) so it holds a very special place in my heart. It is fantastic because it focuses on using materials and items that you have to hand, and strips bookbinding back to being a fun and achievable activity. Really, what more could you possibly want from your first bookbinding text?
Re-bound explores various book structures. There is a strong focus on long stitch bindings and variants of this, but why not! It’s a superb way to start exploring making your own books with as it requires limited equipment. There are templates to follow but the author encourages the reader to play with books to develop their own style. The recycled and repurposed material element of this book was ahead of its time and is more relevant now than ever. Although this text is pitched at a beginner level, it still covers the fundamentals of book binding, such as paper grain, so it sets the beginner binder off on the right path for developing their skills further.
Buy the book on Book Depository here.
Making handmade books by Alisa Gold
2. Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden
The cover boasts ‘100+ binding structures and forms’ and this book doesn’t disappoint! I wish I had bought this book sooner (only purchased 2 years ago so a newbie in my collection) as it would have saved a lot of googling of ‘what is the name of this book structure *enter a random description*!’
The projects are accessible for beginners and many of them only require a limited selection of tools, which is ideal if you are just starting out or are limited for space. This text contains easy to understand tutorials and infographics, although perhaps not as detailed as some of the other books recommended. However, this is made up for in the vast quantity of structures and forms that described! There are also the artist’s work of many of the structures featured, as well as quotes from many familiar book binders and artists.
Buy the book from Book Depository here.
Bound:15 beautiful bookbinding projects by Rachel Hazell
3. Bound: 15 beautiful bookbinding projects by Rachel Hazell
The first thing you notice about this book is that it’s visually stunning. The photography has a light and airy quality about it and I felt transported into Hazells studio whilst reading it. There is a lovely flow through the book that makes the reader feel like they are on a bookbinding journey with the author, which is indeed another aspect of Hazells business (more on this later). There is a lot of information regarding paper choices and tools, which is useful and easy to understand. The tutorials themselves are easy to follow, mainly thanks to the step by step guides and beautiful photography. The tutorials start with simple projects and build in complexity so the reader never really feels lost but instead can grow in confidence as the tutorials progress. Hazell really focuses on the reader creating their own book covers, and gives insight into how she achieves this with examples of her unique cover designs.
A great beginner book for those that are visually stimulated. In particular, this would be an excellent gift for an artist who’s looking to showcase their own work in their by binding their own books.
Buy the book on Book Depository here.
One final note before we move on. Rachel Hazell also organises travelling bookbinding workshops in gorgeous locations. For me these look like it would be diving into her book and a truly wonderful experience. If you wish to find out more about these retreats please visit her website here.
Making Books by Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura
4. Making Books by Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura
For me this a rare book that bridges an important gap in the bookbinding book niche. It introduces bookbinding at a level that the beginner bookbinder would be comfortable but through a carefully thought out series of beautifully detailed projects, it guides the reader to more intermediate and advanced projects. The change between the two levels feels seamless and more importantly, achievable for those bookbinding at home.
The book starts with an introduction to materials, tools and methods. Then it follows to a pamphlet bindings, through the next few tutorials are then led to more complex binding such as rounded back case bindings. The graphics are easy to follow, instructions are clear and projects form books that are functional and practical that you would want to make and use, or even gift to friends or family. The details provided means this book acts as a wonderful reference text, even after you’ve completed the projects and this would be a great book to have to hand for years to come.
Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura are founders of the London Centre of Book arts (LCBA) which you can follow on Instagram here.
Bookbinding: A Step-by-Step Guide by Kathy Abbott
5. Bookbinding: a Step-by-Step Guide by Kathy Abbott
This was the 2nd book I bought and I’ve no problems admitting it was too advanced for me at the time! Although the projects are easy to follow, and the instructions are clear, they do require a certain amount of previous knowhow. So why am I recommending it here? I believe this book to be an excellent reference book for those wishing to advance their skills and is a great reference text that any self taught bookbinder should have in their collection. So much so that I’ve moved home multiple times since I bought this book and unlike many of my other books, it was never culled!
My advice, just don’t make this the first book you buy on bookbinding, but DO make it one that you do buy as your skills and knowledge advance. It’s a wonderful investment that will enable you to push your own skills and experience further.
Buy the book on Book Depository here.
Kathy Abbott is also on instagram if you wish to follow her work there.
So there we have it, my five top book picks for aspiring bookbinders to add to your Christmas list. I do have recommendations for more advanced texts which I’ll cover in a separate blog post further down the line, but first, I’m inspired to search for more to add to my own collection!
Do you have a favourite not listed above that I could add to my own list? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy reading and happy book binding!
Enjoy this blog post? Please share for others to enjoy!
Su Florence is an artisan book bind binder of Florrie which hand binds notebooks, sketchbooks and journals in Fife, Scotland.
More about Florrie disclaimer and privacy policies here.