“A book on cheap paper does not convince. It is not prized, it is like a wheezy doctor with pigtail tobacco breath, who needs a manicure.”
— Elbert Hubbard
One of my prized possessions does nothing but make me angry.
It’s an autographed copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Deadeye Dick” that’s signed: “And for Chris. Kurt Vonnegut.” What ticks me off is that the paperback itself is disintegrating. The binding is falling apart. The pages are yellowing, fragile and feel like they are disappearing into the air.
I’m almost afraid to pick it up and read it. And it’s one of my favorite books.
When we publish a book here at Lost Art Press, we want to make sure it outlives us. We use acid-free paper; we get the book’s signatures sewn and glued. We use thick boards covered in cloth.
And now we’ve gone over the top.
When we sent “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” to the printer in Pennsylvania, we asked to keep any leftover copies from the print run without the hardback boards. We got a few boxes of these spineless book guts, and they have been sitting in my basement since November.
Recently I took some to the Ohio Book Store in downtown Cincinnati, which has a binding division that specializes in restoration work and creating fine volumes for libraries and private collectors. The work of the three restoration specialists there was superb, so I asked them to finish these books like a mid-19th-century volume.
The result is beautiful.
What you see here in the photos is aged calfskin on heavy boards with marbled endsheets. The spine of the book is shaped to give it a nice curve, much like high-quality vintage books. The cover and spine are hand lettered in gold.
It is a delight, both to look at and read in this form.
We’ve asked Ohio Book to bind 26 of these books like this, which we’ll offer for sale here and on the Tools for Working Wood web site. These books will be signed by me and Joel Moskowitz (the other modern author of the book). They will include the DVD, which will be glued into a sleeve at the back of the book. And each book will be lettered (“A” through “Z”) and marked with the year, 2009.
The book should be available in a couple weeks, so save your pennies. Price: $165.
Believe me, this isn’t about making money. The profit margin on this kind of hand work is pretty slim. But because we thought that offering a vintage binding on this important book would be a cool thing for our libraries, we thought you might feel the same way.
So if “Joiner and Cabinet Maker” ever does become one of your favorite things (and it’s fast becoming one of mine) you can be sure that it will be around long enough to also become a favorite thing of your grandchildren.
— Christopher Schwarz
“Hand-covered books break up friendships. You loan a hand-covered book to a friend and when he doesn’t return it you get mad at him. It makes you mean and petty. But twenty-five cent books are different.”
— John Steinbeck