Is Book Binding a Lost Art?

A morning radio program recently was discussing lost arts. A few things were mentioned including calligraphy, chivalry, and blacksmithing. I was worried that book binding would be on the list of lost arts, but that does not seem to be the case at all.

This fiscal year my team has a budget line for book binding. We intend to send some of our cancelled looeleaf services to the bindery to both preserve their integrity as a point in time research tool as well as make it clear that the content does not change. There are a couple of very good book binding business in Edmonton that we regularly use and though the players in the market have changed some, there are still several thriving companies.

If you are interested in beautiful books and binding, you may pander to your passion at the Art of the Book conference in Calgary, July 11-13, 2013. This conference is organized by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Articists Guild and takes place every 5 years. There are workshops offered by the organization on July 6-10. If you are in Ottawa on May 4, from 10:30 to 4:00 there are demonstrations and a Book Arts Show and Sale. (English poster).

For a taste of the Art of the Book ’08 entries, check out the online exbition.


  1. Several years ago, I had to do some research on this issue. I was most surprised to find that one of the leading book binderies is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I and other members of the Law Libraries Association of Alabama were able to tour the facility. We had very gracious hosts and learned much. I highly recommend them–especially after watching them do their work: the Tuscaloosa Bindery

  2. Anyone interested in fine bookbinding, hand printing and other book arts should consider attending the annual Wayzgoose held every April in Grimsby, Ontario. For those not familiar with the term, a Wayzgoose was a an entertainment give by a master printer to his workers every year on St Bartholomew’s Day. It later came to be the name for an annual outing or dinner by a printing works or newspaper for its staff. Today, Wayzgoose is the standard name for any festival or exhibition celebrating the book arts.

    Of course, there’s bookbinding — such as is done for libraries by Lehman Bookbinding and Smiths Falls Bookbinding here in Ontario — and then there’s the art of fine bookbinding. Of course, both Lehman and Smiths Falls will do custom binding in leather, but fine art bookbinders are admittedly few and sadly fewer. Here at Osgoode, we’ve been using Keith Felton Bookbinding since Keith moved to Canada from England (where he learned the craft and apprenticed at St Bride’s) in the 1980s. In addition to extremely fine hand binding to the highest artistic standards, Keith also does amazing and careful restoration and preservation work. When any of our rare books needs attention, we always send it to Keith — as do collectors, dealers and rare book libraries across North America.

  3. I have attended the Grimbsy Wayzgoose for most of the last decade. Great! The Calgary Show should be investigated.