December 8, 2009

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

Posted in bookbinding, books, education, Reading, technology at 12:10 pm by India

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)
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September 28, 2009

California, here I come!

Posted in bookbinding, books, education, production, technology, Tools at 9:06 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at Sorry for the inconvenience!

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!)

September 4, 2009

To be fond of ; to like ; to have good will toward ; to delight in, with preëminent affection.

Posted in art, bookbinding, books, coveting, illustration, Inspiration, letterpress, printing, production, Typesetting, typography, Video at 1:14 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at Sorry for the inconvenience!


Chronicle Books had only a dummy of the trade edition at BEA, but the book is out now. (Buy it through Indiebound.)
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July 13, 2009

from the Guardian

Posted in art, bookbinding, books, Design, illustration, Inspiration at 12:44 pm by India

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. Read the rest of this entry »

September 22, 2008


Posted in art, bookbinding, books, Inspiration at 2:06 pm by India


I love to make books and I love to play the ukulele. Can I put these two loves together? Can I make a book out of a uke?

Holy moly.

From The Ukulele Books of Peter and Donna Thomas, via Ukulele Hero, via Dylan.

April 24, 2008

Making trees’ deaths worthwhile, since 1972

Posted in bookbinding, books, Design, Inspiration at 8:13 pm by India

Scott K. Kellar binding - trees

I’m trying to close some browser tabs that I’ve been carrying along for at least two months, and I just can’t click the little x on this one without mentioning it. Scott K. Kellar, bookbinder and conservator? Does some really lovely work. Go look.

February 29, 2008

The Motherlode of Vintage Bookbinding History

Posted in bookbinding, books, Design, Inspiration at 3:35 pm by India

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 . . .
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July 15, 2007

Hautes couvertures

Posted in bookbinding, books, Design, Inspiration at 7:58 pm by India

Apparently Paris was a hotbed of elegant bookbinding, back in the 1920s:

Creuzevault - Assise
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May 5, 2007

Book restoration in the Adirondacks

Posted in bookbinding, books, Reading at 8:26 pm by India

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.

February 7, 2007

How and When to Wear a Tuxedo Wrapper

Posted in bookbinding, books at 12:54 am by India

A very fine resource got written up on the Craft: blog the other day, and I expected to see it all over the interdesignweb within hours. Since such ubiquitization does not yet seem to have occurred, I hereby draw your attention to the Indiana University Libraries’ photolicious Making a [Casebound] Book. This article is just one small part of the utterly nerdtastic Repair and Enclosure Treatments Manual, which is all about the care, feeding, and restoration of books.

This, FYI, is a tuxedo wrapper:

tuxedo wrapper

My favorite part of the manual, though, is this gem of an unanswered query, on the tuxedo wrapper intro page:


The criteria for this enclosure are…

…OK, what ARE the criteria for this enclosure?

Clearly, the question to ask yourself is, Where will this book be going? Mrs. Post prescribes a Tuxedo for the following forms of social engagement:

1. At the theater.
2. At most dinners.
3. At informal parties.
4. Dining at home.
5. Dining in a restaurant.

Remember: “If ever in doubt what to wear, the best rule is to err on the side of informality. Thus, if you are not sure whether to put on your dress suit or your Tuxedo, wear the latter.”

Now you know.

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