What is wrong with this book?


Whats wrong with this?

Whats wrong with this?

At first glance there is nothing particularly wrong with it. It functions as a book should: that is that it opens well and you can read the text and look at the pretty pictures. It has a cover to protect it.

So why don’t I like it? From a binder’s perspective I can see little faults. It is 1mm larger at the head than at the tail. What’s 1 mm, you may well ask? Well it translates in the square, that is the edge that sits beyond the text block, looking off.  I can also see that the endbands are uneven. And lastly I don’t actually like the cover, even though I designed it….I’ll get back to this question of design later.

I am showing you my mistakes as a way of sharing information. I believe that all too often we don’t like to acknowledge mistakes publicly. Makes one appear less competent. But the world is not a perfect place and we are not perfect machines. Sometimes I learn from my mistakes, and sometimes it takes me a long time to do so.

I have a hard time cutting straight. It’s taken me a long time to get used to my guillotine. Things move all on their own, and my book becomes 1 or 2 mm out. I curse and swear, but it comes down to how observant am I when I begin to cut.

How does the glue get onto the front cover? Maybe my work surface is not as clean as it ought to be, or in my haste to paste too much product was used. Maybe my fingers are grubby.

And then I take a look at the text block itself. I used the drum leaf method so that there is no sewing across the margin. If that is so, why then do the pages look like normal text and image pages? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the drum leaf? If you have answered yes, just as I did, then we have both come to the realisation that this book now has fundamental flaws that can’t really be fixed.

And then we get back to the idea of design.  I have often said to my partner that he should design the covers and I could follow his pattern.  I am not really that artistic. I’m not being hard on myself; I’m being realistic. However I push on. I am nothing if not tenacious.

I designed the cover on the computer, to have a  black spine with red cloth boards. This allows me to have a visual. A bit plain, so I added footprints, which I took off the internet. I do have a note book for ideas, and it is filled with scribbles and basic plans for covers.

So, I print the design onto my cloth; however Max, my son gave me this throw away comment: “It’s crap if you use stock images- you need to make your own.”


While it looked bright and shiny on the screen, the reality was a far cry from that. For one I couldn’t print on the black cloth.  I was disappointed in its dullness; where is the skill if I am just printing off a computer? What was I thinking?

Not a day goes by when I don’t peruse a bookbinding journal or book. Not so much to poach ideas, but to be inspired. If I print the design with the computer, where is my skill? And as I look at designs by others mine seems simplistic at best.

I think I am disappointed in myself; how I perceive my skills and capabilities is a far cry from this current result. I won’t chuck this in through; I will change it around, add some black to the spine. I  will use my small blocking press even if it keeps blowing the fuses and I need to work in the cold. I will add paint to the cover to give it some lift, and in fact this will turn out to be a pop-up project for the real thing.

The real thing being repaginated and printed as we speak. Watch this space, this is definitely a work in progress!




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