Books Without Paste or Glue

by Keith Smith

Keith Smith Books, 1991
Volume I of the Non-Adhesive Binding series

readability rating
2 star readability rating Although the explanations are good, this book suffers from the author's occasional pretentiousness.
content rating
4 star content rating The descriptions are clear and detailed, so that when I choose to do "arty" bindings I can do them fairly quickly.

Keith Smith's books on non-adhesive bindings are well-known in the binding community. Many people who describe themselves as "book artists" (rather than "bookbinders") use his techniques to produce their works. Even binders who generally do adhesive work, like me, find his works useful for the occasional change of pace.

This particular volume, being the first in the series, includes a lot of the foundational, theoretical material that he draws on in his later books. In some cases, this is good, for instance when he touches on particular ideas and techniques that are fully explained here. In other cases, this focus on the theoretical produces almost completely pointless prose.

The Good Stuff
Although I have other books that cover the same non-adhesive binding ground (most notably Bookworks), none of them cover it so seriously. Smith's interest in the underlying theory behind bookbinding means that he explains why things should be done one way rather than another.
Could Do Better
Anyone who can take four pages to discuss the philisophical and artistic implications of folding a single sheet of paper in half needs to deflate a bit. In my opinion.
Best Bit
Prose like this. Like it or loathe it, it's very striking.
The act, rather than the result of folding is the essence of a codex book. The action should be with full knowledge of the ramifications of bringing into being the only art form with planal two-sided display. As I have tried to portray in the first demonstrated binding, the one-fold book, the time/space event is as much a part of the book experience as anything printed on the pages. Regulation of time through space alters anything printed on the page, as much as tempo alters melody.