Dos Rapporté by Bookbinding Out of the Box. One of the Best Printed Bookbinding Tutorials I Have Ever Seen

Benjamin Elbel has recently launched a new project. Its name is quite self-explanatory: Bookbinding out of the box. However, if you know something about the works of Elbel Libro, you should guess that it is not as straightforward as it seems!

This post was updated on the 9th of December, 2018 with an introductory video made by Ben Elbel (see below.)

The idea of the project is to share the experience of bookbinding with different people. Yes, to teach the craft of bookbinding. But as the tutorials are produced by Ben Elbel, you get to try working with some unusual and new structures.

This weekend Bookbinding out of the box launches a new tutorial. Recently Ben contacted me and asked whether I’m interested in testing this new product. Last week I got this A4-sized brown envelope with a greeting note.

During my first years as a bookbinder, my only sources of knowledge were printed tutorials and internet videos. So, I had my good share of self-education materials.

Later I’ve been a bookbinding teacher for three years. I had classes for adults and kids. I guess I’ve seen most of the different types of students. From unbearable I-know-better-how-to-do-it type to people who showed only absolute disinterest (that student have got her class for free from the school I taught at.) Luckily, most of the students were really nice and curious. Especially kids.

So, I guess, I can tell whether a tutorial is good or not. Both for an experienced bookbinder and a beginner.

And this one is excellent.

It’s always a tricky thing to educate and to keep the focus of the group. To continue to be interesting to your students. And that’s precisely what this new tutorial achieves with every page.

That’s the full package: the tutorial and the materials.

Dos Rapporté Binding

This structure, as many other at Ben’s website, was born about ten years ago during his experiments with different book structures.

Dos rapporté is sort of a binding with a hollow spine. However, it is different in several ways. It opens really well. It has a distinct design that invites further experimentation. And it’s a pretty straightforward structure. Even if it needs some attention to the details, it may be mastered by bookbinders of different skill levels.

It took me about 4 hours to go through the tutorial. With all the necessary pauses for drying. I’d say it should be a two-day project (one of the drying stages is recommended as overnight.)

I might have worked through the project a bit faster if I hadn’t been taking photos and writing notes for this post all the time. Still, at one moment you’d better leave the almost ready book for a long drying. And after that, you will need less than one hour to finish the project.

For those who’d like to experiment a bit with this type of binding, the tutorial offers some modifications to the book structure. I haven’t tried them yet, but they seem to be quite interesting options.

The Tutorial

As I wrote earlier, I had some experience with printed tutorials. More often than not they miss something both in writing and illustrations. Even video tutorials skip steps that may appear crucial for some of the students. It’s good when you have enough experience with bookbinding to fill in the gaps easily. But what if you are not as crafty?

With this tutorial, I had a feeling that the course is so well-thought, that I had absolutely no chance to do something wrong. Ok, I still was able to make an error with the cover boards, but that’s only because I always tend to run forward. If I just read what’s written in the book, everything should have been fine. And even then I was able to work around the problem I created all by myself and to continue with the project.

All steps are both explained in text and accompanied by well-made illustrations. In special cases, these pictures are turned into step-by-step schemes.

This is a sort of experience of attending a workshop without going anywhere and without having a teacher present.

The instructions are clear and straightforward. So I’m sure most of my students, even those at the very beginning levels, would be able to work through the course without any problems.

Materials

Along with the tutorials, I’ve got a package of materials specially prepared for this project. You may choose to buy them as a package, or order only the tutorial. Or only the materials. However, I don’t know why the latter would make sense =)

If you decide to order only the tutorial, you’ll have to source paper, covering material, and cardboard locally. Just don’t forget that you’ll have to allocate some additional time to cut all the things to the needed sizes as well.

The materials themselves are beautifully and thoughtfully chosen. Ben explains, for example, why he chose to include the Buckram bookcloth, and not some other type of covering material. There are other wisely placed comments and reminders throughout the book as well.

Price

Every tutorial from Bookbinding out of the box costs 75 Euro (the price will rise a bit on the 1st January 2019, due to the change of the Dutch VAT). There are packages of two, three and more tutorials that come at a discounted price as well. Materials cost additional 20-30 Euro (25 Euro in the case of the dos rapporté binding.)

This amount of money may sound like a lot, but if you take into consideration the amount of work invested in these tutorials and an almost classroom feeling of the process, the price seems to be quite reasonable.

By the way, the book itself is a beautiful object made with a good understanding of its purpose and book design. I liked how it feels in the hands. And I think I wrote enough about its contents above.

Where to Find It?

Bookbinding out of the box has a separate from Elbel Libro website: https://bookbindingoutofthebox.com/

You may already find four tutorials there (and the materials packages):

The dos rapporté binding will become available this Sunday, the 9th of December, 2018.

You may also read this article about the dos rapporté binding from the 32nd issue of The New Bookbinder. Some of the illustrations from this article are used in the tutorial.

Disclaimer

The dos rapporté binding tutorial and the materials set were provided to me by Ben Elbel for free. However, I hope I was quite impartial while reviewing this Bookbinding out of the box project.

My first impression of the course was that the tutorial is so well made and thoughtfully done that it cannot be compared to any other instruction set I have used before. And when I showed the result to my wife, she just told me: “Wow! Ben did a really good job!” See, my 5-hour effort wasn’t even acknowledged!

By the way, I don’t think you can see where I messed up with this book =)