Brain Pickings

Bookbinders: 1961 Documentary Romanticizes Book Craftsmanship

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Earlier this week, we took a detour from our intense interest in the evolution of publishing and instead examined its past with a fascinating 1947 documentary on making books. Today, we’re back with some excellent companion viewing: The 1961 documentary Bookbinders, part of the America at Work series by the AFL-CIO, which frames the book production process with enough romanticism to make today’s most notorious “better-nevers” nod along like the bobblehead dogs on the dashboard of a New York cabbie.

Americans at work, in an art that is the preservation of all arts: The making of books. These men are masters of their tools, from the most primitive instruments to the latest equipments of the machine age. With other craftsmen, these are the people who make the pen mightier than the sword.”

For a richer celebration of this vanishing craft, we highly recommend Lark’s 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form.

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