In Reply to 5 Reasons Why Bookbinding Is the Best Hobby

Recently we received a reply to a post by our guest contributor Franja Ormhart 5 Reasons Why Bookbinding Is the Best Hobby. We publish it today with almost no editing. Many thanks to Stephen Colbourn for expressing his opinion. We welcome further discussion of this and other texts at iBookBinding.

Why Bookbinding Is the Best Hobby?

Well, it’s the best hobby for me because I’m old and retired. Judging by the pictures in the iBookBinding newsletters, everyone else is thirty or forty years younger. What can an ancient amateur book-maker tell you?


It’s not an expensive hobby. You can learn the basics from the internet. Start with office paper and a cutter. Do not be fooled by adverts such as this one below which shows you tools without a name. What are they all? You don’t need them – certainly not when you’re a beginner.

But why would you want to learn bookbinding? You must have a creative urge to make something, and you probably like books and playing with paper.

Maybe you do not have access to art supplies? Think simple, think blank notebooks. How do you bind the pages together? How will you cover the book? What will you do with it?

Try YouTube.

Silly question, you say, what to do with it?

Try writing in it, or give it away to someone who will write or draw or doodle in the book herself or himself.

Other uses of handmade books include door stops, wedges for wobbly chairs and tables, decoration of shelves, drinks coasters, paper weights, ballast, a defence against delays and idle moments… You find that you are making progress when people admire your books and want to keep them.

Anything to Read?

I am old-fashioned. Books, to me, are not art objects or objets to be admired and explained to the ignorant who see only wasps’ nests. I want some print in my books and cards – albeit surrounded by fancy decoration and illustration.

I started my book-making with souvenir-greeting cards for the Neilson Hays Library in Bangkok.

The jokey name ‘library cards’ fell flat because people expected a date of return to be stamped in them. Instead, inside, you find short extracts of prose and poetry. The library is quite Hi-So (High Society) and run by Posh Ladies. They cultivate the airs of a literary salon.

Next, I came up with the slogans: Give a Book Not a Card and Handmade Books Make Great Gifts.

It works with some people, but not with all: gimme a snowman with a cheerful face and red berries, not a mystic dove with blue flames shooting out of its arse like a jet fighter. Hey, ho – there you go.

Who are we?

Although our website is a work in progress, you can see an outline of us here:

You can even look in through our front window on Google Maps. There is much more going on behind the curtains; we are making books, and cards, and prints, and drawings, and decorated papers. Please join our mailing list. Please ask us questions.

San, by the way, is a real name: it’s the SAN of SANSKRIT. He will never grasp why I call him Sancho – as in Sancho Panza or why I try to teach him English verse.

Thaiger, Thaiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,

NO FEAR: We are a safe space for beginners. Don’t be a stranger.
Steve and San

Top image: Sculpture: OMG LOL / Eyebeam Art + Technology Center Open Studio / Photo: See-ming Lee CC BY-SA /

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