Learning to bind books can be a rewarding experience, whether it is intended to restore damaged volumes or to assemble new projects. Depending on the level of skill that you would like to achieve, there are a number of ways to learn how to bind books, in which you will work with a variety of materials and tools. Learning methods range from reading books about bookbinding to attending advanced programs where students learn how to bind books and care for old volumes.
Some basic terms about antique books that you will probably encounter while learning to bind books include codex and folio. A codex is a single volume of a larger work, while a folio is an oversized book made using large sheets of folded paper. You will also learn more about printing techniques such as imposition, a system used on the press to arrange pages for efficient binding. Imposition involves setting up multiple pages on one sheet of paper, called a signature.
If you want to learn how to bind books so that you can repair damaged but not valuable books or bind simple projects, consider using an instructional book. A book will outline basic bookbinding techniques and materials, and allow you to explore book arts to see if you are interested in learning more. A number of libraries and bookstores have resources which you can use to learn how to bind books, and staff are often happy to assist students of bookbinding.
If you are interested in exploring book binding more thoroughly, look for local classes and workshops. Many art schools and some colleges have bookbinding departments, and offer short intensive courses in book binding. These classes will offer the opportunity to work in a studio, and have access to high quality tools. You will also probably be able to handle more exotic materials, like vellum, a highly durable thin animal skin often used in valuable texts.
For advanced book arts, you may want to consider going to a school such as the American Academy of Bookbinding to learn how to bind books. A limited number of schools around the world offer bookbinding classes to very small numbers of students, usually less than 10. In these schools, you can learn how to bind books using a variety of techniques, and also how to conserve and handle valuable old books. The valuable skills you learn at a professional school are also very marketable, as libraries and museums all over the world are always seeking bookbinders.