One of my sometime hobbies is bookbinding. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at it thanks to many courses at the San Francisco Center for the Book, Kevin Smith’s many volumes on non-adhesive book binding and lots of practice.
Last year, one of the instructors at SFCB mentioned that paperback books published in the 1960s and 1970’s were often sewn together rather than glued. This means that you can undo their bindings and use them to make books. Since I’ve already given blank books to almost everyone I know, let me know if you’d like one, and I still have quite a stack of unused ones in my studio, this was exciting news.
So I set aside a small pile of paperbacks from my “To Be Re-Read in Retirement” shelf with plans to rebind them. This week, I finally got started with Truman Capote’s wonderful 1948 novel Other Voices, Other Rooms. You can read my review here.
I’m very pleased with the result, I even got the gutters right this time. The gutters are the groove between the spine board and the cover boards which make it possible to open and close the book. They work like hinges and have long been the bane of my book-binding existence.
Once I get back to work and have access to a printer I’m going to print up a nice looking label for the spine.
I’m not sure if Mr. Capote would like the paper I chose for this cover but I do think Randolf, the flamboyant recluse who haunts Other Voices, Other Rooms would love it.
I’m currently working on Nathaniel West’s Miss Lonelyhearts/Day of the Locust using a different binding method which will hopefully produce a nice rounded back binding. Rounded back bindings look great, but are not as easy to do.
I’m also planning on producing a small zine before summer ends, but that will have a very simple binding since I’m going to be doing twenty or thirty of them.
Let me know if you’d like a copy.