Book binding

Use your own products to find areas of improvement

The best way to understand how to improve your product, is to use it yourself. If you’re a regular user of your own product, you will notice the small details and bugs that bother your customers, as well as get ideas for features that would further improve your product.

This is a tried and tested methodology that is widely adopted in Tech. For eg: If you’re a Product Manager working on a Food Ordering app, you should ideally be using your app to order food on a regular basis and identifying areas of improvement through your own use of the product.

I’m applying these same principles to my handmade books. I recently started using my green, leather bound journal as my daily journal, as well as for making notes from books that I’m reading.

Here’s what I’ve found so far. What I love about this journal:

  1. The binding feels solid and sturdy. This is a massive win for me! I don’t mind opening and closing the journal as much as I want. The book feels really solid in my hands. I don’t have to worry about it falling apart. It does not feel fragile. It’s strong and can take a beating.

I recently read this quote in Creative Bookbinding by Paulin Johnson – “The first law in binding is solidity. The architecture of a book comes first of all.” – by Pierre Martin, one of the few master binders in France. I agree wholeheartedly.

2. The leather has a lovely tactile touch to it. It is amazing to hold a nice leather bound journal in my hands. I find myself wanting to write in it, even when I don’t have anything to write about!

3. The size is convenient for a daily journal. It’s not too big, nor too small. Often commercial journals can feel a bit big in size, making them inconvenient to carry around. They’re also heavy. This journal measures 4.5 inches by 5.5 inches, and has 80 pages to write on, so it’s quite convenient.

4. It lays flat. This makes it really easy to write in. Both the left and right sides are equally easy to write on. The choice of binding plays a big role in this, and I’m glad that my binding is working. If creating a book that lays flat is important to you, I suggest using a similar binding – sew your signatures together and create your text block, and then attach the block to the leather directly, to give a snug yet flexible cover for your book. I’ve covered this in detail in this post. Long stitch binding is another great binding to try , if you want your book to lay flat.

Of course, there are things that have emerged for me as areas I need to improve. And that’s why using your products is so helpful:

  1. Paper selection. I think the paper that I’ve selected is perhaps a bit too thick. It’s great for sketching and painting, but maybe too thick for writing. Paper choice can come down to personal taste a lot, but I think I would prefer to use thinner and more flexible paper, that really absorbs the ink I write with. Lately I’ve been using fountain pens to write, and I want to use a paper that works well these sort of pens.

2. What kind of leather ages well? This remains to be seen. Part of the charm of using leather to cover books is that it acquires a lovely patina with time and use. Instead of the book looking simply “old”, it acquires a look of being “well loved and charming”. This depends in large part on what kind of leather is used for the covering. Right now, I’ve been using scrap leather from a shop on Etsy, but I’m wondering if I should do some research on what type of leather is best suited for binding books.

It’s fun to use your own products!

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