Turning a Paperback into a Hardback

Unofficial History
1970, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Corgi Books

This binding was not a valuable book financially, but one whose owner was extremely fond of it. Being a late twentieth century paperback, it was not made to last. The paper is brittle and the binding was in a perfect style, which, ironically, is so far from perfect that one must think the term was made in jest.

A perfect binding implies that loose sheets are stacked and adhered at the spine edge with a thick layer of PVA or similar adhesive. This is then covered with a paper cover, which is adhered over the heavy spine, and tada! You have the modern paperback. Note the lack of sewing, spine lining or any form of reinforcement to keep the book from falling apart. This makes a very clear case as to why your regular paperback will often fall apart on you when reading. If, by some miracle, you can keep the book free from dog ears and spine breakages, it won’t be long before the adhesive gives up the ghost all on its own and falls apart anyway – as mentioned, decidedly less than “perfect”.

In order to create a hardback, as requested by this client, I treated this book quite similarly to a thesis binding – stab-sewn and covered as a quarter-bound flat back. The result was very pleasing, and with a simple cover design and title on the spine, it now has a new lease of life that should last for years to come.

If you have a similar book that you would like to preserve for the future in this way, please do get in touch to discuss the particulars.

CONDITION

TEXTBLOCK has brittle paper, which is discolouring at the edges.
BINDING is perfect bound and still in tact at present.

TREATMENT

TEXTBLOCK
– Keep original cover as first page.
– Create holes adjacent to the spine and sew as thesis binding.
– Adhere plain black endpapers.
– Line spine with cloth and manilla lining.
BINDING
– Create new cover – flat back and quater-bound with black cloth spine and printed cover in the style of the original.
– Case-in and finish.

Treasure Island | A Fine Binding

June 2016 will see the return of the Worthing Artists Open Houses to our seaside town. As a craftsperson, I have previously enjoyed the increased members of the public coming to say hello at The Book Hut, but never directly taken part. This year, however,  I will be much more involved, with two projects on display and a workshop at the Worthing Library, it’s all go at this end. The first, and key project, is that which is introduced here – Treasure Island – a fine binding of my own creating, that will be on display at StudioFreer in June. It is the first fine binding I have made for approximately four years, and the very first which will be available to buy.

TREATMENT

  • Initially the cover was removed from the binding and kept for future use in the design process.
  • The textblock was then placed in the press and the spine lining and adhesive (animal glue) was removed manually with a spatular, having been previously softened with a wheat starch paste poultice.
  • The sections were then cleaned individually and put in the press for flattening.
  • The outer folio of each section was then guarded at the spine with a 12gsm tengujo tissue to reinforce them, and placed back in the press.
  • Made endpapers were created using gold leaf and paint and sewn along with the textblock.
  • Following pressing, it was sewn onto three tapes.
  • All three edges were paired and gilded in gold leaf.
  • Endbands were sewn in gold and black silk.
  • The spine was lined with fray not and manilla.
  • The boards were laced in and covered in a smooth cartridge paper and sanded.
  • The binding was then covered in a light green goatskin.
  • The cover decoration consisted of the first chapter of the book blind tooled onto the cover, and the title brought out in gold leaf.

David Barber’s Sketchbook

David Barber's Sketchbook

David Barber’s Sketchbook
c.2014
Flexible binding in full tan goatskin. Sewn landscape onto five cords and trimmed, with endbands in beige and green silk.
Paper was alternated between Surrey Cartridge and Windsor & Newton Sketching & Drawing Paper.
276×207 (WH), 15 sections, 3 bifolios per sections

David Barber’s Sketchbook was designed with specific requirements from the artist. The layout was landscape to allow the artist to draw across the double page spread, it was also imperative that the binding opened well when completed giving access to the gutter of the book. The texblock was created from two different types of paper alternating between each section, one more appropriate for watercolour, the other for drawing in ink.

The text block was sewn onto five cords, which were then laced into the boards. The boards are lined to allow for the pull of the leather on the front and the leather left plain for the artist to decorate. The endpapers were made from the Surrey Cartridge paper, again, designed for use from the artist.

For more examples of fine bindings and newly bound volumes, have a look at bookbinding. For more information on the Artist, have a look at his interview on Worthing Art.

David Barber's Sketchbook
The first drawing by David Barber

David Barber with his sketchbook
David Barber with his sketchbook

A Final Book for Becca

This is the last book in the series of Books for Becca’s wedding, it is the all important guest book! As I am writing this, it is the day before the big event, and I shall take more pictures of the book when it has been fully used by the guests – I might have had a little fizz by then, so we will see how those pictures turn out!

It is in the same style as the previous two books, though much smaller, the pages are a landscape A5 size, rather than the previous A4 and bigger. It is still bound in a simple coptic style and has the crumpled paper and ribbon on the front. Again it is in pink as this is the theme of the wedding!

 

 

Hen-Do Memory Book | Coptic Binding

I made this particular volume some years back for a friend’s hen-do. It is a fantastic little binding, designed to be a keepsake of memories from friends, and would make the prize gift of any hen party. The best part of this book is the contents – lovingly and individually made by the girls together, so the hen will always have a cherished book to remind them of the night and all their closest friends.

ORDER YOUR OWN HEN-DO MEMORY BOOK

  • I will send you sheets of paper for the girls to write/draw/collage on in what ever form they like.
  • I will include some simple printed instructions, including what direction the writing should be in so that the contents are consistent.
  • You give a sheet or more to each of your girls for them to personalise.
  • You send the completed pages back to me a minimum of two weeks before your hen-do for me to create the book.

SUGGESTIONS OF CONTENT

  • Photographs of you together
  • Past memories of school, college and work days
  • Drawings and collage cuttings of things to make her laugh.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Coptic binding, fully bound in coloured paper, with additional crushed decorative paper on the cover and ribbon.
  • Guards for each folio are in the same paper as the cover.
  • Single folios with guards created each signature, the paper stock was thick to provide bulk and hold photographs.
  • Each individual is given a landscape folded folio to be written/drawn/collaged on as they choose. It should be noted that each folio will have guards wrapped at the spine.

For other examples of bespoke bindings, have a look at the bookbinding page of this website.


This particular book was made for my oldest and best friend, who go married some years ago. Well the weekend was her hen-do – a raucous event of karaoke and champagne amongst other things! And, as many hen-do’s do – this one required a hen-do memory book! This duty obviously came my way and I endeavoured to make it well and appealing. The best part of this book was that all the chicks (is that the term??) had a huge input into it, each making their own pages for the book, as apposed to giving me their pictures and notes and me putting it all together. It worked really well as each page had real individuality of that person, and the bride was amazed and thrilled by everyone’s effort.

A book for my sister

You may recall from my last post that I have been making a book for my lovely sister, this has become as much a practice of the craft for me as it has been making a book for her.

It had some unfortunate slip-ups along the way. All starting well with pairing the corners, which are tricky, considering their size. Maybe I got over enthusiastic or it was late in the day, but the corners were swiftly followed by me ripping the leather spine in half. Not to be dismayed by my lack of skill nor the fact I had no more green, I stuck it back together with selotape and continued to pair. Unfortunately the spine was to see yet more trauma when I tried out my very first blind tooling, and spelt the blasted word wrong – TWICE. It’s a stupidly long complicated word anyway.

So despite its obvious pitfall, I plodded on, and now have some pictures of covering the boards and the completed thing. Phew!!

Acknowledgements Boards
Lining the boards

Acknowledgements Cover
Adding the cover paper

First came lining the boards on the cover to bring them up to the same level as the boards plus the leather. Then I covered them using a very nice map wrapping paper from Stanfords.

Acknowledgements Inside boards
The inside before trimming

Acknowledgements Turn Ins
After trimming the excess insides

Next came neatning up the insides of the book, which you can see above. Any excess leather and paper would look messy under the endpaper. Following this step I did line the boards as I did on the cover, but forgot to photograph that bit… And the final thing:

Hope she likes it! (better pictures will be added to the gallery this week!!)