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The top 5 tips for making your own books

In Making Books, Simon Goode and Ira Yonemura shows how to create beautiful handmade books, from concertinas and pamphlets to more elaborate multi-section bindings. Simon and Ira run the London Centre for Book Arts (LCBA), an open-access studio in East London dedicated to book arts, with a regular workshop programme. Here they share their top five tips for successful bookbinding.


1: The right materials

When planning any book project you should choose materials that not only work visually together, but that best utilise the nature and quality of each material. Whatever material you’re working with (paper, board, and bookcloth), you should research and understand the unique qualities and purpose of each material so that you can use it to your advantage. Paper, board, and backcloth all have a grain direction. A lot of hassle can be avoided in the long-run by making sure that grain direction runs parallel to the spine.


2: Research

Seems obvious, but you should always be on the look-out for examples of interesting book structures at bookshops and libraries. It’s not enough to find examples online. Always study the books in person, to see how they were made and how they work in the readers’ hands. Take notes.


3: The right tools

If you’re making books by hand, you should invest in good quality tools. If you’re starting your collection from scratch, you’ll need a few essential tools and you can improvise the rest. Experiment and find the tools right for you, and for each project. Tools have a funny habit of taking on the personality of their users.


4: Learn by making

You should always begin each project by making models, mockups and practices. Ideas and sketches can be a great start, but it’s the hands-on making that really challenges you to experiment and make something truly unique.


5: Share

This isn’t an idea specific to making books, but it’s more a philosophy that we run our studio by. We started the Centre because we realised that the economic and political realities of being an artist (particularly in a city like London) meant that you can’t do it on your own; it takes a whole community of artists, designers, technicians, crafts people, educators, students, hobbyists and amateurs to pool resources and expertise. By no means are we the first group of artist to come to this conclusion, but we think that sharing, or working together, is the only real model for creating and establishing a fair, dignified and sustainable way of work.


Making Books by Simon Goody and Ira Yonemura (Pavilion) is out now. Photographs by Yuki Sugiura.