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Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life (Paperback)

Colour Books Hobbies & Lifestyle > Art > Decorative Arts & Crafts Photographic Books

By Aimee Spillman
Imprint: White Owl
Series: Crafts
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781526773784
Published: 9th September 2021



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This book is a breath of fresh air showing you the fundamental skills and techniques you will need to start binding your own books.

You don’t need a lot of expensive tools or materials to do bookbinding and this guide has been made to make the process accessible for any one who wants to do some “weekend projects”.

This book will appeal to people who love books, but lead busy lives and yet still want to be creative. It will show you the basics and teach the fundamental skills and practices that will get you binding your own books in no time. These skills will then be transferable across a number of projects contained within and hopefully make you want to learn more.

The ‘Weekend Projects’ will include how to do simple repairs on your old and well loved books, giving them a new lease of life, including adding hard covers to paperbacks and doing simple repairs. Along with these we will be creating bespoke notebooks and it will show you some unique ways to use your new found binding skills to keep and store your special cards.

The aim of this book is to inspire new binders young to old and everything in between.

Includes detailed directions for how to bind books and book repair. I gained a lot of helpful ideas from this, and the students I teach were also able to use for projects in our makerspace.

NetGalle, Alicia Vandenbroek

As a creator and bookbinder, I was interested in Intermediate techniques as well as repairing damaged books. I received a lot of instruction about both and I appreciated the chapter on upcycling books as well.

The instructions were pretty clear and detailed. There were a lot of photos to clarify the written instructions, I appreciated the history of bookbinding, paper types and preservation, though that wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting.

All in all, I really liked this and I’m glad I have it for future reference,

NetGalley, Laurie Johnson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was very interested in finding out what is book binding and stumble upon this book. It was so informative. The steps were straight forward and easy. I enjoy reading the book and it felt like it was a craft that is important but forgotten. Now when I am reading a book or so I take the time and look through the book binding of the books because sometimes the publishers add little details to have the book stand out.

NetGalley, Celeste Cruz

I love books and notebooks. I opened this book and found myself initially bewildered by the instructions but ridiculously excited about the possibility of being able to make my own notebooks for my own use and for presents. I am sure that the techniques get easier with practice.

There is a lot of new terminology to get used to but this is clearly explained. It strikes me that accuracy and correct measurements are the key.

I thought the blank sections in the book where you could record what went well with your make and what you would do differently next time were an extremely good idea. I just love the prospect of using some of the beautiful papers and pretty materials I have collected over the years to cover notebooks.

The section on upcycling books also excited my interest as I realised I can preserve and enhance some of my favourite books that now have dogeared covers from much reading and rereading over the years. Especially excited to tackle my well-thumbed poetry collection.

The bonus project at the end of the book was very interesting to me. I love to keep birthday and other occasion cards, mainly in boxes, but I have never thought about binding these into keepsake books. The tiny Christmas tree decoration books are a lovely idea and I could include favourite poems in these. Idea lightbulbs were going off in my head throughout this book.

5 stars

Read the full review here

GoodReads, Crystalrainbow

I found the book extremely informative. It contains a great introduction to the history of books and how they have been made and used over the years, as well as a detailed etymology of book related words and a glossary of bookbinding terms.

Read the full review here

Jennifer's Little World

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I adore books and most of my favourites definitely need a fresh cover. That is why I requested this book from Netgalley and was delighted to have my request granted. This book by Ainmee Spillman is everything you could want for the apprentice bookbinder. The narrative is clear and concise and the pictures are of excellent quality, she makes the process easy to follow and contains lovely ideas for making your own notebooks, cards and even Xmas decorations. Stillman writes with a light touch and a tutor instinct. I would be delighted to buy this book for a friend and fellow bibliophile. My grateful thanks to Netgalley, the publishers and the author for the gift that is Bookbinding and how to bring old books to life. I can't wait to gather together the tools and some beautiful paper to work with.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

As featured in


If you’re ever looking to take your papercrafting in an exciting new direction, then Aimee Spillman’s new book may just be for you. Through several detailed explanations and a bit of a history lesson, Aimee is aiming to teach her readers how to bind books for themselves. Whether it’s a simple notebook to keep all your ingenious ideas in, or something heftier like that groundbreaking novel you’ve been working on, Aimee has you covered. She’s also included chapters on paper repairing and how to upcycle and personalise your old books, which make for brilliant crafty presents for friends and family.

PaperCrafter Magazine, Issue 168

I was excited to read this book because, as a writer and reader myself, books are incredibly important to me and the wider community. Reminding myself of their history and how to create them from scratch, as well as upcycling them, seemed a natural next step. I know I’ll enjoy creating brand new ones to write in and produce decorative ones to give as gifts to other book-loving people.

I like the spaces given for my own notes, and the upbeat sense of humour used in the instructions too. All this goes towards creating a feeling of having Spillman with me when I attempt making them.

A wonderful insight into bookbinding from this author for a skill that need not die out. Help ensure it doesn’t.

Thoroughly recommended to those of us who live and breathe books.

A big thumbs up!

Read the full review via Facebook

For the Love of Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love this book and will definitely be making my own books now. I also loved the mending books section because I have a lot of old books that need repairs.

NetGalley, Kaitlyn Waller

While I've only bound one little booklet before and haven't spent time trying the projects out from the book, it seems to be a very comprehensive guide to both binding books as well as repairing books! I will definitely be exploring binding my own journals or art books in the future.

NetGalley, Dora Yang

This is a beatifullylaid out book, introducing people to the art of book binding. It starts with a little history, a very useful glossary and some sources of the materials you will require, then quickly moves to lots of projects for the reader to try book binding themselves.

The projects have lovely clear photos and take you from pamphlet binding through to upcyling and repairing your own books to related projects such as cards and christmas decorations.

There's definitely lots of ideas here and I particularly like the instructions on repairing books and making your own multisection notebook. I definitely reccomend this book as a good introduction to a craft we sadly don't hear much about.

NetGalley, Amy B

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a quick read, providing easy-to-follow instructions on how to bind pamphlets and books. Ample, lovely illustrations add a visual element. It's hard to read a guidebook, but the instructions are clear and well-written. As an archivist of 30 years, I'm not sure I would recommend this as DIY conservation treatment, but it's definitely a great resource for someone seeking to broaden their craft repertoire. Off to order supplies now.

NetGalley, Susan Illis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a great intro to book binding techniques. It outlines tools needed, and has detailed instructions for various bookbinding techniques of different skill levels. Photos are included to help with instructions.

NetGalley, Jessica King

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve always wondered how books were made. Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life explains it as a straightforward step-by-step process with both words and photographs. I prefer this clear and concise written explanation rather than watching an online video over and over. What amazed me most was how detailed the process is. It really is an art.

I haven’t made my own book yet. However, Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life makes me more confident about the possibility. I’ve already seen bookbinding kits sold on a massive online shopping website for less than $20. Even with papers, endpapers, covering material, and boards, the start-up cost is relatively low. It looks like it would be a creative hobby. It could produce holiday gifts for my friends, family and co-workers who journal too. Overall, 5 stars for anyone curious about bookbinding.

NetGalley, Diane Hernandez

Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life is an amazing book with equally amazing photos and instructions on how to make your own book through book binding it and how to use different methods to do so. It also shows you how to repair old paperback copies you own that are dropping to bits with age.
This would be an amazing skill to have and try. I am going to give this a go at some point as it looks so amazing and so useful!

NetGalley, Natalie Horman

A practical how-to guide for those of us who need to repair books, which is rapidly becoming a lost art.

NetGalley, Abby Jones

I love making my notebooks with a vintage style but sometimes it get messy but thanks to this book I got some tips to do things better, also I loved the sections about upcycling old books and paper repairs., it's really helpful to know how to do this if you have books either new or old because we never know when an accident might occur. I loved the idea of decorations with a small made notebooks, I will make some for my room.

NetGalley, Misa Wadoud

This is a very helpful book on how to make your own books or repair ones you have. It has very detailed instructions and lots of photos to really teach you. There's even instructions on how to make an old paperback book into a hardcover. A great guide.

NetGalley, Alicia Bayer

Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life shows you how to make simple plain (or you could use lined or even bullet) A5 notebooks by sewing the pages together. Reminds me of little booklets the children would come home from school with, but it includes an inner lining (endpapers) to make it even nicer and hardcovers rather than soft.

This book is divided into five main chapters after the Introduction pages:
- Pamphlet Binding
- Intermediate Bookbinding
- Upcycling your Existing Books
- Paper Repairs and Cleaning
- Weekend Projects

The Introduction section looks at the history of paper and books and also includes a glossary of terms. Unusually a list of suppliers is near the front of the book rather than placed at the rear.

Along with the three main projects, also included are details on how to remove pencil marks from books, how to repair covers and ripped pages. The Weekend Projects sections include two projects: one for sewing received greeting cards together and another for making mini Christmas books that can be hung on the tree.

Overall it's a nice book with few ideas to get you going. I like the colour photographs of the steps taken, they help make sense of the written steps.

NetGalley, Samantha Stroud

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a wonderful little book, chock full of tips and instructions on how to bind your own books. Easily understood, with great instructions that are easy to follow, and also lavishly photographed.
Where I thought the book really shined, however, was in the section on paper repairs and cleaning. We all have those favorite books that, through many readings, have become soiled or damaged. Spillman gives some great instructions on how to repair and refresh them. I can foresee myself spending several evenings working on my old, favorite books!
I received a copy of this e-book from NetGalley, but upon it's release date I will be ordering several hard copies. One for myself, and several more for my reading friends for Christmas!

NetGalley, Randal White

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an awesome book on bookbinding even for people who never knew they wanted to learn until this book came around to give you a new hobby. Great photos and instructions on many projects, from simple to more complex. Also a section for binding and restoring older books or ones that are in need of repair. Highly recommended craft book to learn a new hobby.

NetGalley, Angela Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Just in time! I am sure every reader had a beloved, well read book in need of saving. I know I do. I am so grateful to Ms. Spillman for writing this book and Netgalley for offering it. I have some experience in creating my own books, but needed to learn to repair old hardbacks. Chapter 3 was just what I was looking for to repair my aging books,. Perfect! This book is a great addition to a home library. Book lovers will find it invaluable for making and saving their own books.
It's well-written and the step-by-step instruction, along with photos, will make creating and rebinding books a joy. Those who work with older children or teens will find easy bookmaking instructions in here, as well. So art teachers, if you want easy activity for a class, you'll find instructions here!

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins

What a great how-to book for book lovers, librarians, and bookshop owners. I wish I'd had access to this book two years ago when I was trying to repair a badly worn but treasured book for an elderly family friend; I had to cobble together info from old online videos. This book and its information/instructions are well laid out, easy to understand, and accompanied by clear photos... if you are interested in making some simple books and/or tackling book repairs, find a copy of this new book.

NetGalley, Ruth Rowell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bookbinding and how to bring old books back to life by Aimee Spillman is a wonderful guide to learning how to bind and refurbish books. I enjoyed how this wonderful book gives clear descriptions and instructions on how to learn the techniques. I like how the book is clearly written and includes helpful photos for each step. This book would be a great addition to anyone’s book collection who is interested in the art of bookbinding.

NetGalley, Samantha Piña

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I took a course on bookbinding and this book is a lot easier than my class was. It is straightforward and easy to understand and in no time can you repair books and make new ones full of memories...take all those things your kids made and were put on the fridge into a book. (I am doing that right now!)

NetGalley, Janet PoCo

This book taught me so much! I really enjoyed the simple and straightforward directions. The writing style was a bit casual, but it was very clear. The photos help immensely. I have done some very simple book binding in the past but these methods are better than what I've tried and they aren't incredibly complicated. This is a solid book.

NetGalley, Jessica Fick

A really interesting and clear book about a hobby I have been meaning to get back into recently. This book helped spark the interest that I lost and I cant wait to get back into it!

NetGalley, Ailish Layden

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I've always been a crafter, and a reader, so finding a book that promises to teach me bookbinding just naturally draws my interest. We start off with a brief but informative history of both books and the words used by book aficionados. From there, we are given a glossary of bookbinder's industry terms (including my favorite, the bone folder) and a list of tools and materials suppliers. Armed with this valuable information, you'll find yourself eager and ready to become a bookbinding student.

The first project is creating a hardcover book. The author walks us slowly and patiently through the entire process. Lots of advise and encouragement is offered along the way, and pictures are included so you won't have to guess at what's being described. If you pay attention, work carefully, and follow the instructions to the letter, you will produce a lovely book that's all your own, and you will have gained a good understanding of the process.

Further in, you'll learn variations in page stitching and book cover design, You'll create thicker books with more elaborate covers and decorative bookmark ribbons. Finally, you'll learn how to bring new life to old books by repairing, cleaning, and reattaching pages. You can even replace a worn-out cover with a handcrafted new one. I can't wait to give some of my own tattered books a facelift! I highly recommend this inspiring, practical book.

NetGalley, Lori Alden Holuta

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I picked this book up because I have been learning some basic bookbinding techniques, and I like to get a few different versions of an artist's best tips to find what works for me. The step by step instructions in this are genuinely fantastic. The writing is clear, concise, and has a ton of pictures. I want all of those in instructional materials, and this delivers. The writing style feels like a good friend is sitting next to me walking me through things. It's conversational and welcoming, while also very clearly being practical advice. I followed step by step on the flat back cased binding, and finally got a book block in covers where everything looked the same size! Very eager to try more of the techniques, particularly the repair.

NetGalley, Athina Livanos-Propst

Who knew bookbinding could be so fun and easy? Spillman makes creating your own bound books look like no problem with her fun and simple explanations.

NetGalley, Rae Hock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bookbinding is one of these "old" skills teetering on the verge of extinction, but with the help of books like this, it has a chance of survival.

Bookbinding and How to Bring Old Books Back to Life is a comprehensive guide to binding and creating books. There is a brief introduction that includes the origin of books and the etymology of common literary terms (which is right down my alley, as I adore etymology!) before launching into bookbinding itself.

There is a clear description of the tools required, as well as a list of suppliers BEFORE the binding instructions (which is handy if you are wont to dive straight in). The instructions themselves are clearly written in a conversational tone, as if the author is standing beside you, guiding you. The photographic illustrations again show the steps and the expected outcome clearly. I did find some of the steps confusing, but as I am completely new to bookbinding, that could just be me. The accompanying illustrations mostly clarified the situation.

The projects are ordered according to difficulty, so one can start with a simple pamphlet before making one's way to solid hardbacks and restoration. Speaking of restoration: this was only a tiny section of the book. If you are looking at archiving and restoring documents, this isn't the book for you; the restorations here are to save favourite books from doom.

I want to go buy myself a bookbinding kit and try it out now!

NetGalley, Jen Shaw

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an excellent beginners guide for either hobbyists or library staff who want to learn to make new books, or rebind or repair old books. It's perfect for anyone who wants to create their own journals or altered books. The images and instruction are super-easy to follow and Spillman provides a detailed glossary of the tools you are going to need and the terminology she uses throughout. Bonus project: mini books as Christmas ornaments!

NetGalley, Mardi Durham

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm new to bookbinding and crafting with books in general. I feel like this book was helpful for people like myself who are new to this craft and people who have been doing this for awhile. For myself personally I loved how it included a history of books and binding along with very detailed instructions for how to do each type of binding.

NetGalley, Lindsay Deale

I think this book is a good one to get if you're starting to be interested in bookbinding and want to find a book that is clear and won't overwhelm you.
It has an explanation of what materials to use and shows some of the basic methods of binding, as well as advice in how to do your bookcase so it helps you avoid some common errors when you're starting. I particularly enjoyed chapter 4, in which the author included how to clean pages and repair your books. I've been perusing other bookbinding books that have been published, and I haven't seen one include a section like this, so I was very pleased that the author of this book did.

NetGalley, Laura kl

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really like this book. I’ve been wanting to learn so that I can create journals. Very informative.

NetGalley, Leanne Pawley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'm absolutely enchanted by Aimee Spillman's work and my new hobby:)

NetGalley, Rivkah Mentzer

Featured on so you want a good book

so you want a good book

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was very informative and I can't wait to make some books with my goddaughter.

NetGalley, Anne Fay

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have borrowed all the books on bookbinding my local library authority own and I think this is an improvement on most of them. Many of the books I have read have either been very complicated or have been focused on making elaborate books that are works of art. This book is easy to understand and contains plenty of information the complete beginner will need such as what you will need to buy and what those confusing terms mean. The instructions are simply written and they are accompanied by clear photographs. It actually reminded me of a YouTube video in book form! The book starts with beginner projects and that is followed by intermediate projects and finally there are some quick projects. The thing I really like about this book is that the author is not imposing their style or taste on the reader. There aren't twenty tutorials showing you how to make specific books that either aren't your style or are not something you will ever find a use for. Instead, she simply teaches us the basic instructions and gives some suggestions but mainly encourages you to use what you have and like.

NetGalley, Laura Starling

The layout of the book is great, it really makes it easy to follow each step. The photography helps a lot as well to make sure your are following along correctly. As some one who is completely new to the craft, it's really important that the photos and steps are clear and easy to understand, This is definitely a great resource to come back to when I feel ready to dive into this craft.

NetGalley, Samantha Williams

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As someone who has done a little bookbinding (a very little) binding junk journals, I am fascinated by the process. I watch U-Tube videos and read whatever I can get my hands on. This book by Aimee Spillman is an excellent source for all things bookbinding. The author prefaces her book as a book for beginners which I am very appreciative. She begins with a brief history of how books were made and used in early Egypt and China. Of particular interest, etymology, “the study of the history of individual words, their origins and how they came to be used.” I can definitely get on board with this!
Spillman gives the reader great advice on the type of supplies needed and provides and excellent glossary of bookbinding terms. Some of these I am familiar with, some are new. Next, she goes into great detail on some of the ways to bind books and her descriptions are excellent.
So many great ideas in this book and I was especially interested to read how to repair and clean old book pages. I personally own around 90 – 100 books published between 1970 – 1920 and her techniques are going to be invaluable to me.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the area of bookbinding.

NetGalley, Teresa Rogers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very nicely done - contemporary design and simple layout. This is a perfect addition to our craft category for book and notebook lovers.

NetGalley, Amy Hurrell

I used to have a work study job in college doing bookbinding, which I found to be very calming. I wanted to get back to those roots when I saw that this book was out about the subject. I like that the author starts out by showing the reader how to make a small paper book before delving into more complicated procedures. I am a crafter, so have many of the supplies on hand that are needed for this type of work. The instructions are detailed (but not overly so) and have photos that aid the process.

NetGalley, Linda Boschert

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For someone like me, who has always wanted to repair and...(wait for it)...MAKE books, this is exciting stuff! No giant cutting machines or forbidden industrial suppliers required!

The author provides simple directions, pictures to view, and "Poof!" we can do it ourselves!

No secret guild, no stuffy room in a hallowed university, or the bowels of a city library. We can do all of this with a few simple tools in a well-lit room, with a cutting mat and fairly common items! (She provides links to her suppliers in the UK.)

It begins with terms and definitions; all of which make sense. Then we ease into choosing paper by weight. (There will be some conversion for Americans, but we have apps for that.)

We learn about the "grain" of paper; and just like with fabric or wood, it's very important to know which direction it should go, or there can be some big problems. Recalling all of those times as kids when we were told to fold the paper in half for a booklet, we were folding "against" the grain. A big no-no! Plus, putting it on the table to fold it, was wrong as well! (I discovered that one myself when folding 300 programs every week as a volunteer.) There is a better way, and it is in this book.

We find that books have a head and tail, a little about end papers, then we get a supply list and jump into Pamphlet Binding; the most basic in terms of stitching. When finished with this section, a small book-style pamphlet is complete!

Different styles of books are detailed, and types of stitching shown; broken down into simple steps in conversational language. (If you have examples of these kinds of books to examine in real life, you will understand more quickly.)

I took extra long to read this book because I was literally unable to read without taking notes. They are so basic and clear, I was afraid they might disappear. And yet, none of it seemed dry or boring. The author truly enjoys the process.

Reality has not permitted me to create a book of my own--yet--however, thanks to Aimee Spillman, I feel ready to repair the books I bought long ago, (hoping to find guidance and affordable tools), and to complete that shining dream (honestly, no kidding); to become a bookbinder!

NetGalley, Carolyn Bragg

This was a great quick read about bookbinding, fixing beloved books or upcycling/personalizing your favorite books.
The book is set up mainly as an instruction manual that is easy to follow with photos of the most important steps. This reminded me a lot of "sealemon" a youtuber that specializes in book binding etc.
What I loved most about this was the section about how to fix and upcycle books. I have a lot of thrifted books that are not necessarily in the best condition and this can help you make your books even more special with just a few materials and tools. I have started spraying the edges of my favorite books in the last month and it is surprisingly easy to do yourself.
I already have some more DIY bookish projects on my list ;)

Thank you so much Netgalley for granting a wish! I can recommend this to anybody who's interested in sprucing up their old books or if you're looking for a fun easy project or special gift for someone.

NetGalley, Anya Diepold

About Aimee Spillman

Aimee Spillman has always loved books, so much so that 10 years ago, when she found herself in a career she was unhappy with, she quit and set out to pursue her real passion. Training at Windsor Castle; working on the Royal Collection, she now has over 8 years of experience. Running her own business, Woodle Books, she cannot imagine doing anything else. From restoration and bespoke binding to teaching workshops Aimee has now set out to make a book that disperses the mysteries of bookbinding and help show others that bookbinding isn't daunting you just need to have passion and patience to bring some much needed love to your most loved worn books.

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