Making a Book by Hand is Not a Completely Lost Art (video)

book printing sow spineBook printing in the 21st century is so completely automated that the equipment can fit into a drug store or public library. But in spite of all the many advances and technical shortcuts, some printers still make books the old-fashioned way: by hand.

In the video below, Anthony Bourdain’s Raw Craft takes us beyond the show floor at Arion Press in San Francisco and shows us how this tiny printing shop keeps the legacy of printers of the past alive in the digital era:

One of the last of its kind, Arion Press has only a handful of members on its staff, all fellow craftsmen dedicated to this age old process. Each works meticulously to create the books in multiple parts, from the typecasters, to the proofreaders, to the printers and the bookbinders. All of these hands build a work of art through a process that must be seen to be believed, and can only, truly, be described as magic.

It’s surprising just how much work can go into a single book when using antique methods, but the result can be worth it. The resulting book can be a work of art.

I recommend watching the entire video, just to see how much care and respect these guys put into their work. While you’re at it, you might want to see if you recognize any tech that the NYTimes used to use to print daily newspapers (hot metal typography, for example).


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

1 Comment

  1. William D. O'Neil27 September, 2015

    There’s a deep, elemental satisfaction in crafts like this and I predict that craft printing will continue, on a small scale.

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