Feeds and Whatnots

nouvelles • news

We’re in business!
The vast part of the studio was in storage between July and September 2013, and it’s a relief to be properly set up and working again! I’ve started to set up the odd workshop, but due to the setup at the new studio, one-on-one is best, so do contact me if you have a project in mind and are able to travel to the Eastern Townships! I have a “forfait”, a package deal, in the works with the Gite Le Beau Bourg . Contact me for further information.

On est de retour!
La grande partie de l’atelier était en entreposage entre les mois de juillet et septembre 2013, et on est bien maintenant! J’ai commencé à mettre en place des ateliers et cours, mais en raison de la configuration au nouveau studio, un-à-un est meilleur, alors contacter-moi si vous avez un projet en tête et vous êtes en mesure de se rendre dans les Cantons de l’Est! On à commencé à determiner un forfait avec le Gite Le Beau Bourg. Contactez-moi pour plus d’informations.

Autres nouvelles / Other News:
On a maintenant une boîte postale aux États-Unis / We now have a PO box in the States : PO Box 434, Richford VT 05476 for the convenience of our American customers.


Dustjacket Restoration

A restoration of an old paper dustjacket for a copy of The Sword In The Stone.

Large areas were missing as can be seen; the missing areas were traced from another copy of the dustjacket, painted, and placed. Painting touchups happened after the placement of the repairs.


Restoring Early 20th Century Bindings

A restoration project involving the re-sewing and restoration of both the binding and cover of a 1909 binding; work in progress.

Mobile book cleaning service - now available • service mobile pour le nettoyage des livres

Nettoyage de livres chez vous – reparations mineurs sur place. Oubliez le transport de vos volumes… dorure, cuir, papier.

Have your precious volumes professionally cleaned in your home or home library. No boxing up and carrying of heavy volumes. Minor repairs executed on site, cleaning and polishing of leather, gilt and gold stamping cleaned.

$75 per hour or quoted by the book, plus travel time.
514 570 8913 • info (at) nobarcodepress (dot) com

Workshops / Ateliers 2013

Get Excited and Make Stuff :)

Get Excited and Make Stuff :)

SVP voir la page “infos” pour plus de détails – groupes, inscriptions, etc • Please see the page “info”  for class size info, registration, etc.

Two-day Weekend Workshops – Ateliers de fin de semaine

A • Box Making / Fabrication des boîtiers 2013

Tout les ateliers de fabrication des boîtes sont fait sur deux jours, pour un total de 10 heures. On commence à 10h, pause-midi pour 45 minutes, pause-thé 15 minutes en après-midi, et on se termine vers 16h00.

All box making workshops happen over two days – a weekend – for a total of 10 hours. We start at 10 am, take a mid-day break to eat, and a tea break in the afternoon. We end around 4 pm.

1. June 2, 3 – in English
2. le  9-10 juin – en français

• 5 personnes; 10 heures d’instruction • 10H00 – 16h00, pause midi, samedi & dimanche • 225$ plus taxes
• 5 people; 10 hours of instruction • 10 am until 4 pm, with a break for lunch. Saturday and Sunday • $225 plus taxes.


B. Basic French-style bookbinding • les techniques de base de la reluire style français

  • $400 + taxes- basic materials included and others for sale / materiaux basic inclus; autres à vendre
  • 30 hours of “atelier libre” (no instruction) •  30 heures atelier libre (sans instruction)

In this basic course, you will discover a few different methods of sewing sections, as well as making one style of cover – a “bradel” cover – and finishing techniques. We will discuss other cover techniques (laced in boards, case binding, etc, if there is interest). You will produce two blank books, and will have the time to finish a third (but that depends on you!).

On vais voir queques méthods de couture des sections et en produire deux ou trois livres blanc, avec couverture “Bradel”. On vais voir certains styles de finition. On vais aussi discuter et examiner un varieté d’autres styles de la reluire, si vous voulez.


C. Advanced French-style bookbinding • les techniques un peut plus avancées…

  • $400 + taxes – basic materials included, and others for sale / materiaux basic inclus; autres à vendre
  • 30 hours of “atelier libre” (no instruction) •  30 heures atelier libre (sans instruction)

For those of you who have completed the “basic” french-style bookbinding class I offered last year, I now offer you some more advanced techniques. We will make one book with laced-in boards, fine leather “decor” binding, with chemise and slipcase. We will also discuss and demonstrate hand-sewn endbands, and interested students will be instructed in their execution. You may find the time in atelier libre to produce a second book.

Pour les étudiant(e)s un peut plus avancées, nous produirons un livre à type passure en carton, avec chemise et étui. On vais discuter et voir les tranchefiles brodées à la main, et seuls qui ce sont interessées peuvent en apprendre.

Ateliers seront offrir sur demande – Workshops on Request

On peut les adapter pour votre projet ou pour votre groupe. Envoyer-moi une message indiquant votre interêt et disponabilité.

Workshops offered on demand. Any workshop can be adapted to your project or developed with me, or if you would like to work in a specific group of people. Send me a message indicating your interest and availability.

• 5 personnes; 10 heures d’instruction • 10H00 – 16h00, pause midi, samedi & dimanche • 225$ plus taxes
• 5 people; 10 hours of instruction • 10 am until 4 pm, with a break for lunch. Saturday and Sunday • $225 plus taxes.

• disponible en anglais ou français; selon le demande, les ateliers peuvent être bilingues!  • il est tous jours un option de me répeter en français, selon le besoin, si un date vous conveintra vous mieux, mais il est un date “anglais”.
• Depending on registration, workshops might be bilingual. • this is always an option: if one date works better for you, and the course is in French, just tell me and I’ll repeat myself in English!)

boxes with no lid : slipcases and nesting boxes
boîtes sans couvercle : les étuies et les boîtes multiple ouverte

boxes with lids : hinged lid, clamshell box, separate lid
boîtes avec couvercle : avec charnière, avec couvercle séparé, les boîtiers.

book boxes / book safes – My lovely secret book boxes. Yes, I will teach you how to make them.
les boîtes-livres – oui, les secrets. Boîte avec dos arrondis et chemise, qui résemble un livre.


Three hour workshops – Ateliers tout petit

These short workshops are meant to introduce you to various aspects of bookbinding, handwork, or leathercare. Dates have not yet been determined in 2013, and will be determined based on demand.

L’intention de ces ateliers est de vous introduire à certaines aspets de la reluire, de travaille avec aiguille, ou de soutien du cuir. Les dates de début sont pas encore déterminer; démander-moi!


Réparation des livres de poche et livres collées- 3 heures.

  • 40 $ materiaux et taxes inclus
  • On vais réparer vos livres de poche qui ne tiends plus. Je vais vous montrer la téchnique, et je vous aiderai réparer vos livres. Apporter deux ou trois livres que vous aimerez re-lire. Apporter tout les pages et le couverture!


Repair your paperback books – 3 hours

  • $40 materials and taxes included
  • We repair your paperback books. I will demonstrate the technique, and you will work on your own books with my assistance. Bring two or three paperback books whose pages are falling out, books you really want to read again. Bring all the lose pages and the cover!


Identification et soutien de cuir

  • 40 $ materiaux inclus; list de produits, conseilles d’usage

Apprendre le soutien de vos items fait en cuir – peu import si c’est un livre, sac à main, les souliers, ou votre divan recouvert du cuir. Comment les nettoyers et les nourir, et l’identification de types de cuir differentes.

La grande plus part de dommages d’items en cuir est très facile à reparer. Apportez-donc deux ou trois items avec vous: un livre, apporter vos souliers en cuir, votre manteau de cuir… on vais les renouvelles! (svp ne pas apporter vos chaises ou divans!!)

Leather – Identification and Care

  • $40 materials included, product list and tips for use

Learn to care for your leather items – whether it’s a book, handbag, coat, shoes, or your old leather sofa. Learn how to identify different kinds of leather and how to look after them.

Much of the apparent damage of leather goods can be fixed very quickly and often with stunning results.  Bring two or three things with you – a book, wear a pair of leather shoes and bring another, bring your leather coat or satchel or handbag, and we’ll make them look great again. (Please don’t bring a chair or sofa!!)


a few new items


A few recent projects (left to right):
• A custom iPad case in French goatskin with gold tooling;
• A custom-made linen-lined clamshell box covered in Bavarian sheepskin (for a collectible book);
• Seven copies of a custom-rebinding of previously published poetry – Italian calf skin, gold tooling, and hand-made marbled papers.


There has been a lot of talk in the last while about electronic books and digital reading devices.

I love my iPhone, and my MacBook Pro. I’ve been a fairly early adapter of all kinds of things: I first went online in about 1993, on the UNIX system at U de M, while I was working on my masters. At the time, you had to have permission from a prof to have an email account. I had a Mac Classic with 2 mb of RAM, and a 40 MB hard drive, and a 1200 baud modem, and believed all sorts of outrageous things about the internet.

Back to the present: I really appreciate the multiple functions of my iPhone, but it is not the device on which I wish to read e-books. I guess I could read on the significantly larger screen of my laptop, but fact is, I don’t find it comfortable to hold my hands in the same positions hour after hour after hour… which is how I like to read (many consecutive hours). And I suppose it is possible that there will eventually be significant technological advances where reading on a digital device will be more comfortable – physically and visually – to allow for greater acceptance. But, nothing quite beats the feel of a book that’s just the right size and weight…

Apart from my arguments over physical and visual comfort, I believe strongly that not all books are deserving of being printed – there is a LOT of crap out there, and self-publishing on the internet is a fine place for that type of book. And, there is also a lot of waste in the publishing industry, even of books that DO deserve to be “in print”, and oftentimes many many copies of books end up in recycling bins or in landfills. So I really don’t have a problem with the *idea* of a digital book. Saves paper, etc. Great news!

Thing is, a digital book is really hard to share – it is in lock-down, and it depends on a certain level of technological superiority in order to have one. The one copy you paid for cannot be transferred to another person or device. It is a one-off – yes, for less than the new printed price in “hard copy” – but very limited in scope. This suits the Big Business model of publishing – own it, lock it down, don’t make it sharable. However, one of the best things about a book is that you can pass it along – you can lend it to a friend, or leave it on a park bench. You can leave it in a box in front of your door. You can hold in your hands something that other people have  held, touched, admired. Yeah, sometimes that really only translates into “grubby”, but sometimes it’s a magical thing, when it’s a book that’s hundreds of years old.

Digital copies of books presupposes that everyone has access to electricity, as well as to a device that is capable of downloading and correctly displaying the digital book. This level of technological superiority exists for only about one half the world’s population. What if, one day, that magical grid that allows so much of our modern life to happen shuts down and we ALL have to go without electricity? There goes our culture. Some would argue that there’s not much culture to be lost, but what if we lost 50 years of publishing history? Think of how significant that loss would be. Which fifty years? How about all of the last fifty years? From 1961 to 2011. That’s a lot of stuff. Not to mention that most of us would just lie down to freeze in the dark, not knowing how to manage without their electric thises-and-thats (which would also take care of the population problem… but that’s another rant entirely).

So. My bet is that there is still, and will remain, something valid in the form of the book that we have been using for about 2000 years. It is pretty much the only thing we currently use that is the same as it has been for as long as it’s been the same, and this rage to read on small hand-held devices is possibly just a rage. Like that for microfiche, which sent loads of documents to landfills. Like floppy disks, like tape (8-track, reel-to-reel, cassette, video)… like so many things.

There is just no way that all books are suited to being digitalized. Yes, it’s a good thing that they can be; increased accessibility is great. But nothing beats the fabulous thing that is a book – its heft, smell, feel, and the intimate way this early technology (for that is what it is) delivers its information. And, it can be shared, reused, donated, taken to bed… and left on a park bench.






This is what I call a “merkinabox”. It got named that at a birthday partly last summer.



It’s a small box (2 in diameter, 4 inches high, approx) with fur inside, covered in leather and sometimes also lined in paper. Some are round like the one photographed here, and some are square, rectangular, more cylindrical… it depends on the materials at hand. Mostly the shape is dependent on what I have kicking around in my leather scraps.

Its purpose (for me) is to make something beautiful out of some of the scraps and odds-and-ends I have in my studio. I hate to waste beautiful things. The photo shows seamless glory – it is not seamless, but the seam is very small and very well done on a piece of very high quality and fine, thin Harmatan goatskin. So it’s a very small scar indeed. The fur used can be either fake (on request), or, most often, it comes from some lady’s discarded fur-lined coat.

Yes, I found someone’s coat in the street. There was a tag attached, with the value of the coat on it, and the owner’s name and phone number. I took it home, thinking it had maybe been stolen. I phoned, she said, “no, I intended to throw away that coat. Do whatever you like with it”. Amazed, I kept the fur lining and sent the outer part off to the Goodwill. I cut the fur lining out of its housing and discarded the parts that were too worn to re-use (the shoulders). I have enough of this 1-inch long black fur to make manyyyyy merkinaboxes.

On average, I make one of these per month; it is not a high-production item and its appearance relies entirely on my having suitable scraps.

In case you wondered… A merkin is a wig for areas other than your head. Austin Power’s chest hair is one, for example.

** Warning : not for the delicate of sensibility ! ** (the rollover talks about vulva, scrota and shows a merkin in use);  wikipedia has all the dirt. It can be made out of human hair or other animal’s hair and dyed whacky colours, and the merkin is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, specificially with the burlesque crowd!

It looks like a merkin inside the box, but it’s actually attached to and part of the box. it does not come free for you to play with otherwise. Though you *could* order one like that, I suppose.

Give your sweetie a heart-shaped box with a heart-shaped merkin in it? Yes, I do have enough scraps of red to do that…

free books and recreational reading

There’s a lot of recent discussion about whether or not giving free books away on the Internet is a good idea.

Some say that it will affect sales negatively. Some fear that the book will be pirated. I think that’s all nonsense, especially if the book given away has already sold many many copies. See some of the discussion here and here, both of which are links Gaiman published in his blog (sorry the links are broken – and I can’t currently seem to find the articles to which I linked, as google is having a fit).

How many times does one copy of a bestseller get read? In theory, lots! In actuality, they are oftentimes “bestsellers” because libraries order 10 copies of Barbara Taylor Bradford because the bindings are crap. Think of all the copies in libraries everywhere. Kind of like the video store when there’s a new release – lots of copies. Then in a few months, fewer. Then in a few years, fewer again. This happens a little more slowly in libraries. Just a little.

Of course I’m being just slightly facetious – I agree strongly with Gaiman’s comment that there are fewer and fewer recreational readers. Ask around – how many of your friends will spend the evening or weekend deeply involved in a book? It’s kind of like getting caught with a somehow embarrassing friend, if you’re caught reading in public. You can’t tuck a Bestseller away in your pocket, discretely. You need one of those wheely carts to lug your book around with you — and so you never take it out to dinner, preferring the solitude of your apartment and some takeout…if you still read, that is.

It’s tragic, really. Lost is the image of the elegant bohemian, book in hand, seated on a park bench with elegant wee volume. Instead, the hipster with iPod or iPhone in hand. “How are they in sunlight? Oh, you’re not reading. Sorry!”

So, no, I don’t think sales of American Gods or any other book will be affected negatively by this or any other free book offer that involves having to read the book online. Aesthetically, laptops are nicer and nicer, but it’s still not the same thing as curling up or walking out with a good book. Screen reading on a park bench. Hum. Not for me, thanks.

If publishers want to seriously increase book sales, look at book aesthetics!

It’s darned hard to curl up with a bestseller. Most of them are bladderbusting behemouths that have only barely enough glue on their spines to get them through five readers before falling apart or being completely twisted out of shape. They are huge and heavy and seriously unpleasant to take to bed, much less to hold in your hands for hours. They often smell bad. When they fall out of bed, they wake the neighbours and send the cat shooting across the room. Sounds like something you really want to take to bed, doesn’t it?

Sounds remarkably like a laptop, too – though instead of smelling badly, I find the fan noisy, especially when the computer’s been on my lap or a blanket for a bit. And you don’t want it falling off the bed…

What happened to Everyman- and Modern library-sized books? Small and sweet to hold in your hand, they fit relatively easily into a bag or pocket of an overcoat. They are portable, they are nice in bed, they don’t hurt if you happen to rest them on your body. They are economical – less paper, smaller print, smaller format. They take up less room on your bookshelf, they take fewer boxes to move, and weigh less. You can take them to dinner or to the park, without needing extra wheels. An All-round better choice!

Everyman books still exist, of course. You can find them here. Above, I am specifically referring to Everyman books published between 1905 and 1934 – they measure 4 3/8? x 6 3/4?; however, the slightly larger (taller, wider) editions from the 30?s to the 50?s were still quite nice. So are the Modern Library editions. They weren’t particularly fancy (and are more-so now), but they aren’t particularly low-end either. Meant to last, many have.

To me, the size of the book forms a significant and serious part of the aesthetic – I am often greatly and unexplainably pleased by the fit of a book in my hands. This is definitely something I seek in a book. I want the paper to be pleasant – not blinding white, but something softer, a bit more off-white. The paper should have a nice feel. And it should be ecological as well… recycled, oxy-bleached, acid-free…

Mass-market paperbacks, while ostensibly physically small, have grown cubic over the years, they are almost without exception hard-to-hold and hard-to-read. Often printed on newsprint with stinky petroleum inks, they are not meant to last, and they don’t. The “ideal” throw away – when booksellers return unsold copies, they remove and return the covers, and throw away the books. That’s right. The books go in the garbage. You knew this already from reading the Bantam copyright pages, though… right? If you want to re-read something, you’d better get the Trade Paperback edition.

Trades are kind of “close but no cigar” in my book. They are still too large (often 6 x 9 or 5 1/2 x 8 1/2), and still suffer the worst excesses of the HC format. Though they are considerably more portable, both the TP and HC are victims of the same typographical crimes: Type is typically set in some “default” QuarkXPress or InDesign format – “double spaced” 12 point type, kind of like a careless Large Type book or high school essay. The book itself, or its jacket, looks like a “billboard” at, typically, 6 1/2? x 9 1/2? with a loud [red] cover.

A book is a book. It is the author’s content — and it is far more than a pile of paper or a digital file or a four-letter word. The word “book” is a spiritual thing. It means so much more than “papers bound together”. A book is memory, it is nostalgia. It is growth and change and discovery. It is laughter and tears and daydreaming. A book deserves the very best package we can make for it, to honour it, to treasure it; that package starts with dimension and weight and smell and texture and … memory.

I will buy (and not just borrow) more books when they are no longer ugly, heavy, hard to hold, and impossible to read. Which basically outlines ones’ possible on-line reading experience, too …

Why are bookbinders invisible?

I’m a bit of a book collector of special editions (sometimes they come unbound) and I’m also a fan of seeing other people’s bookbinding* work.

But just TRY to find out who made what, and if there are photos for it.

In a recent email conversation with a small-press publisher of fine limited and lettered editions, it was like pulling teeth — with no anesthetic — to get the name of the person who does his fine binding. Not only was it hard, but I suspect I deeply insulted or annoyed him in the process.

Why? You think he’d be proud to show her work – a well-renowned person – and that her name might sell more copies of the books?! Or are the lettered editions SO sought after that the binder completely disappears, no need whatsoever to acknowledge the hands that made the beautiful package. The package that, in and of itself, has an aesthetic worth? Indeed, no need even to show images of the item for sale it is so sought after!?

Wow – I have to find a product that sells that well. (“one x for sale, $750 + shipping and taxes” and it flies out the door! whoot!)

Ok, so crappy book binders (“kitchen table bookbinders”) aren’t going to get a contract to do lettereds. Understandable. But why on earth should the persons’ or company’s name be intentionally or unintentionally withheld? Is there some sort of conspiracy on the part of the publishers to minimize what it is that is the bookbinder’s art?

I don’t really think this is the case – I do think that most publishers simply don’t think about this very much.

They have no trouble saying that they have x number of so-and-so at so-and-so much, and it’s “nicely bound in leather and boxed with a this and a that special slip out whatnot”. So why not “nicely bound in xxx leather by xxx”? Doesn’t that add something to a work? I’d personally rather buy a fine binding where the binder and materials used are known and documented than otherwise. I want also the reputation that goes behind the bound work, of all parties involved in what becomes the finished item.

If there are any small-press publishers of fine bindings reading this, and you don’t document your fine bindings and lettered editions – Please start thinking about it!

Ours should not be an invisible art. Ours should also not be an art with silly professional jealousies. I mean, really. Why competitive?  We are all business people, some better than others. Some are artists in their own right; again, some better than others. Art is subjective, and so not competitive. Business – well, that takes care of itself if you’re a rotten business person.

Let’s celebrate what we share, and encourage the people who publish the books we bind to fully and accurately document the work we provide.

* this goes for anyone who produces special editions of anything, really. For example, letterpress artists. Describe your work! Build your catalogue! Tell the world what fonts you use and why. I want to know. Maybe someone else will, too.