Bind This Book

Bookbinding at its most meta

editorial, illustration, ux, print

Frustrated by bookbinding tutorials with comment sections full of questions like, “Can I use this same method on different paper?” “What if you don’t have one of the tools to make the holes in the cover?” and “Does it HAVE to be waxed thread?”—I wrote, illustrated and designed a new kind of tutorial that aims to cover it all.

Why Bind This Book?

Bind This Book is a book about bookbinding to be assembled by its readers themselves. It teaches binding by explaining the reason 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 product; it has a chapter on traditional book binding materials, a chapter on how to choose alternative to traditional materials, a chapter on basic concepts and lingo, and five chapters on binding methods. It aims to serve not only as a lesson on bookbinding, but as a lesson on independence.

User Experience

Bind This Book begins as a PDF, to be downloaded and printed by its user. It’s designed in black and white without bleed for letter-size paper, so it can be printed on any standard home printer without any need to trim. Instructions on how to print double sided—whether or not you have a double sided printer—are available before you download. Following these instructions, the page that comes out of the printer last, on the top of the pile, is the first page of binding instruction.

From there, the reader jumps right in. Instructions for This Book itself are always found on the left side of the page, rotated 90 degrees so they are facing the reader as they bind, and only contain information related to the moment in time they represent. For example, the instructions on the innermost page of the first signature explain how to bind the first signature to the cover, and instructions on the innermost page of the second signature explain how to bind the second signature to the first.

Once the book is bound, the right side pages are read like any standard book.


The section on alternative materials is one of my favourites. I’m an advocate of the 5 R’s of recycling (yes, there’s 5 now), one of those hacky DIY folks that will use what they have before they go out and buy something new, so it was only appropriate I teach others to do the same. It covers all sorts of materials like awls, knives and rulers, and even a short tutorial on how to build your own bookpress out of easily available items.

The version of the book shown 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.


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