Pictorial Manual of Bookbinding

by Manly Banister

The Ronald Press Company, 1958

readability rating
3 star readability rating A detailed bookbinding book aimed at the amateur.
content rating
4 star content rating A good survey of bookbinding techniques.

I bought this book, not because I needed another general-purpose bookbinding book aimed at the amateur, but because it was by Manly Banister. Banister wrote The Craft of Bookbinding, one of my better introductory bookbinding texts. So when this came up on ebay at a reasonable price, I bought it.

It predates The Craft of Bookbinding by almost twenty years, and appears to be Banister's attempt to make a "coffee table" bookbinding book, something like Bookworks. What delights me is that Banister, for all his efforts to be approachable, is a bookbinding geek like me. He can't seem to bring himself to recommend the easier, but less sound, techniques that most coffee table books do.

The Good Stuff
As with his later book, The Craft of Bookbinding, Banister is very good at showing the complexity of choices in bookbinding, allowing the reader to choose among a variety of techniques. He also explains how to make your own tools and equipment, just as he does in the later book. (Many of the illustrations and photographs are actually the same.)
Could Do Better
I found the layout of the book confusing and hard to follow. Bits of it actually looked like the "bad layout" diagrams they showed us in high school yearbook class, with two columns of text interrupted by a horizontal collage of illustrations that spill into the gutter.
Best Bit
My favorite bit comes from a comparison between the two books. In this one, Banister includes a section on hand-sewing headbands on the book itself. In The Craft of Bookbinding, he has a section on how easy it is to mess up a book by trying to hand-sew a headband on it, and recommends a technique for making one to stick on. Somewhere between those two statements, I suspect there's one seriously bad experience...a story I would love to hear.