Everyone Should Bind Their Own Books, I’m Serious

via bookshelfporn.tumblr.com

Intern Grace’s Team Pick:

I think that we can all agree that books are pretty much the best things ever, correct? I like books because they feel real and permanent, like inked words are something real you can touch and that aren’t going to change. There’s a big difference between writing a thing on the internet and making a thing in real life that you can hold in your hand. You should bind your own books, is what I’m saying. Book lovers never go to bed alone, but book makers never go to bed because they’re making their own books.

Awesomely, GOOD posted this really thorough and wonderful how-to guide to binding your own hardcover books. It has illustrations! And really detailed instructions! It seems unlikely that you will mess this up beyond redemption! I haven’t made one yet, but I want to so much, you guys. This truly is the best of all possible arts and crafts.

An important aside: I was under the impression that making really awesome custom CD sleeves was the best way to win someone’s heart, but I am fairly certain that this is even better. Just something to keep in mind.

Related, here is also this gorgeous video from The Daily Telegraph of how Smith Settle bookbinders put together their books mostly by hand. Motivation.

Birth of a Book from Glen Milner on Vimeo.

It is also very important to me that you have seen this bookstore stop motion short.

Ok, someone make a book and then come back and tell me how awesome you are!

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Intern Grace

Grace Ellis has been writing and making hack-job graphics for Autostraddle since 2011 and is a co-creator and co-writer of the comic book series Lumberjanes. She is mostly an intern in name only. (Mostly.) She lives in Columbus, Ohio because why anything. Also, she wants to write the Black Widow movie and feels like if she just keeps telling people, eventually she will be allowed to do it. She has a Twitter and a Tumblr, both of which are pretty above average.

Grace has written 89 articles for us.


  1. As an ardent bibliophile, I can only concur. From every corner of my heart. I want to print and bind my own books. My only fear is that I might not leave my house ever if I could do both those things.

  2. i love book binding! when i first started i made a combination book/cd sleeve, basically it was a cd-sized hardcover book of lyrics with a envelope inside the back cover. so much easier than it sounds!

    • I’d love this for my musical cast recordings, the libretto as a hardcover book and then a place to store the CDs inside. I am imagining a shelf full of these as I type and it’s beautiful.

  3. This sounds like one of those things that are better on paper than if I try it.

  4. “It seems unlikely that you will mess this up beyond redemption!”
    Enter Ashleigh. I’ve sort of got screwing things up down to an art.

  5. Autostraddle just, once again, made me the happiest girl. I’m glad to see others falling in love with bookbinding as well. :) It really just warms my heart!

  6. This is so cool, Grace! Though now I also want to train a cat to sleep adorably in my bookshelves.

  7. omg, are you serious?? I just made/ bound a blank book last month for my sister/friend who is going through chemo for breat cancer. It looked like the product of an overly-earnest 10yo child but hey, she loved it (loves me for it) and I had great fun.

    I highly recommend it kids!
    But be extra careful with that super sharp blade…yeah…:-(

    and the stop action short from Type in Toronto is SO MUCH FUN–thanks Grace.

  8. this is so cool! also, i just spent the last twenty minutes looking at that bookshelf porn tumblr you got the picture from.

  9. That stop motion short is amazing! And the bookshelf porn tumblr made me really, really want my own house so I can turn a room into my very own library… makes me so excited for the future.

    As for actual book binding, I doubt I would ever do this for myself, but I do know a few avid readers/journalers who would love a gift like this. *Bookmarking*

  10. I learned coptic binding from a craft book a few years ago and it’s surprisingly easy. Also, a hand-bound book is the best gift!

  11. The great thing about going to a women’s college? There’s a whole course on book binding. Shit, you could probably even major in it.

    Cuz that what’s women can do.

    I’m so glad I decided to go to a women’s college to all things woman-y and queer.

    Now I’m going to go read my newly bound book that I printed on my school’s printing press in my school’s secret garden.

    • Shit. I’m mega jealous. My school had a book binding and printing press class before I got there, but the professor who taught it left and so now they don’t. I’ve been learning how to mend books and build cases for books in the archives at my school, but I could be doing so much more.. I guess I should have gone to a women’s college.

  12. I regularly bind my own books as a design student, and its pretty easy! the trick is to take your time. Rushing leads to disasters. It can be a slow process but there’s nothin like having your own beautifully-bound book that’s 100% you

  13. I attended a one day art thing for one of my art classes and I learned to bind books there. I’ve wanted to to it again ever since and I’ve been particularly crafty lately. This article came at the perfect time!

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