The British Library Guide to Bookbinding: History and Techniques

by PJM Marks

The British Library Board, 1998

readability rating
4 star readability rating An excellent survey of binding history, with numerous pictures to support the text.
content rating
3 star content rating The survey of techniques is inspiring whenever I am running out of finishing ideas. The text isn't always clear about how to carry them out, however.

This is not a "how to" book at all - it describes the history of bookbinding from the earliest stages to the present day. It defines technical terms, describes the fashions in binding style in various European countries at various times, and shows many examples of beautiful binding work.

The Good Stuff
This is an informative, scholarly book. It avoids the tendency most of my technical books have of strongly advocating one technique or another, or stigmatising any particular practice. It focuses primarily on finishing techniques, and the array of examples is staggering and gorgeous.
Could Do Better
It's not really the fault of the book itself, but I wish there was more information on how to do some of the things shown. Also, I often wanted to know more about, and see more examples of, a particular style. I would rather have paid twice the price for twice the book.
Best Bit
The illustrations, both black and white and colour, show a variety of beautiful bindings. It is an inspiring book to leaf through.