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Article Review: A History of the Fading Art of Bookbinding

As a bookbinder and restorer who deeply appreciates the history and artistry of my craft, I was immediately drawn to this article exploring the origins and evolution of bookbinding over the centuries. Given my passion for this fading art form, I read Amitesh Jasrotia's piece with great interest, seeking to further my own understanding while also evaluating the quality of information provided.

Jasrotia offers a winding tour through the history of bookbinding, beginning in ancient India where protective bindings for palm leaf manuscripts emerged. He traces the spread of early bookbinding techniques to the Middle East, Europe, and beyond, exploring developments like the codex style of the Romans and ornately decorated illuminated manuscripts of medieval Catholic scribes. The transformative printing press receives due attention as a catalyst for both spreading books far and wide as well as radically altering binding methods in the name of efficiency. While lamenting the way industrialization and standardization in the 19th century largely replaced traditional hand bookbinding craftsmanship, Jasrotia spotlights renewed interest in rediscovering these skills, covering contemporary award-winning bookbinders helping ensure this art form lives on.

As a fellow admirer of fine bookbinding, I found Jasrotia’s survey full of fascinating details at every turn. He ably captures the creativity innate in this craft since its beginnings while also demonstrating how bookbinding has constantly evolved across cultures to meet the needs of the day, whether efficiency, aesthetics, or conservation. I particularly appreciate how he balances this broader view with specific names and examples of standout contemporary bookbinders keeping longstanding traditions alive through their expertise and passion.

The article’s length allows for real depth on a topic that could only be skimmed in a shorter piece. For lovers of bookbinding and book history like myself, Jasrotia delivers the ideal blend of engaging storytelling and enlightening details in a package sure to satisfy and inspire. My only critique would be the lack of illustrations, given how visually stunning bookbinding can be. But this is a minor drawback for an article sure to please fellow devotees of this underappreciated art.

As a professional bookbinder, I found “A History of the Fading Art of Bookbinding” to offer a vivid, edifying look at the long lineage of my chosen craft, spanning continents and centuries through creativity and reinvention. Jasrotia compellingly captures why this art form has enthralled aficionados across eras through lush historical detail alongside inspiring contemporary practitioners. For anyone seeking to better understand the enduring magic woven into a beautifully bound book, I highly recommend giving this piece a read. It will surely deepen appreciation for the care, skill, and vision bookbinding represents at its best while also paying fitting tribute to this ancient craft I have dedicated myself to preserving.

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