bind this book

Bind This Book is a book I wrote and illustrated that teaches book-binding by binding the book itself.

I'm a very hands on girl. If there's something that needs doing, and it's within reason for me to do it myself, I'll usually give it a go. Being in design school, and therefore needing to put together books on the regular, I taught myself various book-binding methods by watching YouTube videos, reading how-to's, and studying the spines of the books on my bookshelf. The tutorials I came across I found to be very specific—use letter size paper; you'll need an awl and book-binders thread; use 4 sheets per signature; mark your holes 3/4 inch from the top—and, on the YouTube videos especially, there would consequently be endless comments asking very specific questions like "will the world end if I use red paper instead of blue?" Additionally, the particular materials called for in these videos, were likely to only ever be used once by the person following along. Let's be honest, how many people have taken up knitting, for example, for a single season and then spent the rest of the year staring scornfully at their collection of expensive yarn? Too many (definitely not talking from personal experience). When it comes to learning book binding, like knitting, there's a good chance it's not a hobby the person is going to keep up. Why start out with expensive materials, only to let them sit in a bin for all eternity, or be thrown out?

So I wrote and illustrated a new kind of book binding tutorial.

Bind This Book is an interactive book that teaches various binding methods, and also teaches its user how to bind itself. It's a PDF that needs to printed and bound by its to-be owner, and can be achieved with only basic household items.

Bind This Book was designed in black and white without bleed for letter-size paper so it can be printed on any standard home printer. The page that comes out of your printer last, on the top of the pile, is the first page of instruction. It has instructions for "this book," Bind This Book itself, on the left-hand side of each spread, and the proper contents on the right side. The instructions for "this book" only appear on the pages they'll be used, and explain in detail what the next step of the binding process is from that physical point in the book/process. They are arranged at 90 degrees so that they are facing the user as they bind. The instructions for binding "this book" follow the coptic stitch method, but there are five total methods explained in the book's chapters. After the book is bound, the left side pages are done with, and the right side can be read like any normal book.

The book contents explain the reasoning behind every decision, never giving exact measurements but rather explanations of how decisions should be made and what outcome they'll have on the finished book. It contains a chapter on how to choose alternatives to standard book binding materials, as well as one on basic concepts and lingo. Its goal isn’t to teach one particular style of book but to demonstrate there are endless options; it serves not only as a lesson on book-binding, but a lesson on making and independence. It's as comprehensive as my little brain could possibly handle.

The version displayed here was printed on standard printer paper, and bound using dental floss, and some cardboard from the recycling.

"If you have the luxury, explore your paper options; don’t settle for standard white copy paper just out of habit. There’s all sorts of paper out there: coloured paper, recycled paper, coloured recycled paper, handmade paper. That being said, if you really like white copy paper, then by all means, go for it."
— p11, on the matter of paper.
"The ruler will be used to make sure things are the same size, and to help you cut straight. If you don’t have a ruler, consider mak- ing your own. Inches and units don’t matter so long as they are all the same. Instead of inches, mark measurements by the width of a kitchen knife, or the spine of another book."
— p17, on the necessity of rulers.