Leonard's Book Restoration

One of the things I try to do here is share information about Bible rebinding. We've shown off quite a few rebinding projects (and I have a backlog of new ones, just waiting for me to post), and I provide a list of Rebinding Links in the right-hand column to point you to various sources. Having a Bible rebound is an exciting process, opening up a world of possibilities, but as always, it's important to have realistic expectations. Our community is fortunate to be served by a number of skilled craftsmen, and I hate to see the quality of their work obscured by the disappointment that "it isn't perfect."

I've had a link to Leonard's Book Restoration for awhile now, but it wasn't until this morning (thanks to Matt Blair) that I discovered their blog, which includes this charming demonstration of what bonded leather sounds like when it rips! 


Proprietor Eric Haley, who's featured in the video, has written about why he doesn't like "floppy" Bibles. His rationale has to do with durability:

"So my case against floppy Bibles is this. To achieve it nearly always requires a very thin leather with no interior liner, and almost no glue to secure the end pages. Because it's so floppy, the reader is then tempted to fold the Bible over backwards while holding it. <wince!> This stretches the sewing, warps the spine, and/or breaks the glued binding. The end result is a short-lived Bible. Eventually, that result will reflect on the one who made it a floppy Bible in the first place."

It's no surprise that I value flexibility in a cover, so you might think reading this would induce a <wince!> in me. Not so. 

While I value flexibility in a cover, what I treasure first and foremost (as I pointed out in my recent piece on the ESV Pitt Minions) is a book's ability to open flat. If you get that right, all the rest is negotiable to me. Ideally, I want to feel an organic bond between text block and cover, and that requires some suppleness from the leather since paper isn't exactly rigid. But there's a wide spectrum where flexibility is concerned, and some text blocks seem better suited to liquidity than others. In some cases, supporting the text block with a more structured cover makes a lot of sense to me. My feeling is, there isn't a "norm." The ideal shifts, depending on the materials, the methods and the end user. 

The "Bible yoga" shots on the site might give the impression that I delight in nothing so much as abusing books, but that's not the case. If you find a dog-eared, spine-creased book on my groaning shelves, it's a good indication that I bought it used. As readers go, my footprint is small. As a bibliophile from the cradle, I love finishing a book without having left any sign that I was there. There is nothing destructive about the gymnastics you see on the site -- the covers are capable of such flexibility, and the bindings are not stressed any more than they would be open flat. (Sadly, opening flat does stress some bindings, and these are the truly wince-inducing.) 

Anyway, it's exciting to see a rebinding specialist blogging about the trade. I haven't used Leonard's for a rebinding project, but what I see here certainly gives me the itch. Has anyone had the pleasure yet? I'd love to hear how it turned out.