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Article Review: Hand Bookbinding Becoming Big, Whether Done by Pros or DIY

In a world dominated by digital media, the age-old craft of bookbinding is experiencing a revival, with enthusiasts breathing new life into old and damaged books. Whether seeking the expertise of professional repairers or embarking on DIY projects, individuals are rediscovering the tactile pleasure and warmth that paper books offer, a sentiment often lost in the digital age. In this exploration, I delve into the realm of hand bookbinding, a craft that goes beyond mere restoration, capturing the essence of storytelling and personal connection.

Image of a Japanese Bookbinder
Nobuo Okano repairs an old book at Bookbinding Studio Livre in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo

Bookbinding Studio Livre, managed by the skilled Nobuo Okano in Tokyo, exemplifies the growing demand for book restoration. Established in 1980, the studio now handles 40 to 50 book repairs annually, reflecting a resurgence of interest in preserving the physicality of books. Customers, like Susumu Ueda, a translator from Kobe, entrust their beloved tomes to the studio, emphasizing the irreplaceable value of physical books in an era dominated by e-books.


The article highlights diverse motivations behind book restoration, ranging from preserving childhood memories to maintaining a connection with one's favorite authors. Okano notes that for many, the aesthetic and tactile qualities of paper books matter just as much as readability, showcasing a deep appreciation for the physicality of literature.


Beyond professional services, the resurgence of DIY bookbinding is evident. Kihara Corp.'s Hon no Odogubako, a book repair kit, gained popularity during the pandemic, emphasizing a growing interest in at-home book restoration. Additionally, Marumizu-gumi, a hands-on bookbinding workshop in Tokyo, attracts a broad audience, from university students to individuals in their 80s, emphasizing the democratization of bookbinding skills.


A 2021 Rakuten Group survey underscores the enduring appeal of paper books, with 53% of respondents exclusively using them. Reasons range from familiarity with the format to the emotional connection engendered by physical books. The "retro" trend and the desire for a respite from digital fatigue contribute to the renewed appreciation for paper books.


As I delve into the world of hand bookbinding, the article effectively captures the nuanced reasons behind the resurgence of this age-old craft. The personal stories of individuals like Susumu Ueda add a touch of authenticity, underlining the emotional connection people have with their books. The blend of professional services, DIY initiatives, and educational workshops paints a comprehensive picture of the diverse ways in which bookbinding is making a comeback.


The inclusion of market insights, such as Kihara Corp.'s book repair kit and Rakuten Group's survey, provides a broader context, showcasing not only individual stories but also the broader trends shaping the bookbinding landscape. The article strikes a balance between informative and engaging, making it accessible to both seasoned bookbinders and those new to the craft.

In a world captivated by the digital realm, the art of hand bookbinding emerges as a beacon of nostalgia and craftsmanship. From the skilled hands of professionals to the DIY endeavors of enthusiasts, the resurgence of bookbinding signifies a cultural shift, where the tangible and tactile qualities of paper books are celebrated. As we navigate the evolving landscape of literature, the enduring allure of bookbinding serves as a testament to the timeless connection between readers and their cherished tomes.

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