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Making Books - A Guide to Creating Handcrafted Books Review by Carol Emmert

London Centre for Book Arts
Princeton Architectural Press
202 Warren St.
Hudson, NY 12534

Making Books - A Guide to Creating Handcrafted Books is a step-by-step tutorial into the craft of bookbinding. This book from the London Centre for Book Arts takes the reader through each step needed to create a vast array of books, from simple pamphlet style ones to multi-section case bindings. These processes have been taught at the London Centre for Book Arts through hands-on workshops since its move to its current location in 2012.

While reading through Making Books, I have been given a deeper understanding of the process of binding various types of books, and have even been inspired to create a few small books of my own. This 192-page hardback book is a treasure trove of photos, illustrations, and detailed directions about crafting books. It not only explains the tools needed and the process of crafting the book, but frequently speaks to the art of the book making process and how different materials make a more suitable book depending on its intended usage when completed. At the London Center for Book Arts they both print books for others and create books as works of art.

The cover of Making Books is reminiscent of the technical books I used to find on my father’s shelves from the 1970’s. It quietly conveys the content of the book without the flashiness often used today. It is a sturdy book, one of the styles the reader can hope to someday be able to replicate with enough time and practice in the art of book binding. Inside of Making Books are detailed instructions for crafting 13 different types of books across six different styles. The first 40 pages of the book cover: an overview of the Bindery at the London Centre for Book Arts, as well as covering the tools, equipment, and materials needed to complete the different books shown in your home workshop. Because some of the equipment to the Bindery is cost-prohibitive for home use, suggestions are made for how to accomplish the same tasks at home, or with the help of your local print shop. The rest of the book includes the step by step instructions for each book, with plentiful photos and illustrations on the matte surface pages.

Making Books was originally published in the United Kingdom in early 2017. To make it more widely accessible, this edition from Princeton Architectural Press includes all measurements in both the metric and US standard units (also referred to as the Imperial system.) I found this quite helpful as some of the suppliers I used listed paper in lb. weight, and some in gsm. My favorite section of the book was the Tools and Equipment chapter. The photos here show a range of each of the 15 basic tools needed, encouraging me that we need not spend a fortune to begin our journey in the book making arts.

Making Books - A Guide to Creating Handcrafted Books retails for $35.00 US. I would recommend it for high school students and adults. While some of the easier pamphlet style books could be created by younger students with supervision, I truly believe those aged 14 and up would most enjoy the process. It would be a wonderful resource for a high school art class, and could allow the students to make their own sketch books for their other artistic endeavors.

-Product review by Carol Emmert, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2018