Basic Bookbinding may seem underwhelmingly dull in comparison to all the other books on bookbinding available today-no gorgeous vividly-colored photographs, no sophisticated page layouts, no selection of cute or thematic projects to work on once you've learned the techniques, no unconventional material, no gallery of artists' works...NO FUN, right? But I've been both an experimental and traditional bookbinder for 12 years, and I have yet to come across a book that covers the BASICS of the craft the way A.W.Lewis's does.
It is really important to master the nitty-gritty of the CRAFT...precision of measurement, the right stitches and knots, putting the skeleton of a book together so that you understand WHY/HOW it works, and KNOW it'll last a hundred years...and only THEN should one go off and explore the big "candystore" of fancy papers, funky found-object covers, and clever bindings. When I want inspiration, I leaf through yummy picture books like Shereen LaPlantz's COVER TO COVER, or Linda F.Kenzle's PAGES...but when I want to put an archival journal of medieval proportions together so that my great grandchildren can read it someday, I return to Basic Bookbinding. My respect for the great bookbindinders of the past is renewed by this very technical, unpretentious and stern manual.
If it's short on innovation, keep in mind that this Basic Binding book is a reprint of the 1952 edition! Learning from this book feels less like a weekend crafts class, and more like an apprenticeship with some terse old master.