Intro to Book Design

thoughts through in ink and pulp

This is my current bookbinding workshop.

I like notebooks, but I typically burn through a notebook every two weeks. I tend write a lot and jot down notes throughout the day. As a result, I've slowly accumulated too many notebooks.

My biggest grip is that there is no rhyme or reason to how I organize my notes. Typically, I just grab a random notebook on my way out the door and use that for the day. Yes, I do put dates on my journal entries, but it's still getting increasingly difficult to reference archived journal entries. These books just collect dust in the corner of my bookshelf or in boxes under my bed.

Currently, I'm in the process of moving away from writing on pen and paper towards a more managable paperless lifestyle. This is for several reasons:

  1. It will reduce clutter in my room for other projects I'm interested in.
  2. I'll have a system to quickly reference my notes.
  3. I've have a streamlined way to digitize and backup my physical notes. I've lost a a fair share of notebooks in my life. Last month, I lost my main notebook resulting in weeks of my life is forgotten in some lost-and-found box in some coffee shop or library.

This goal of digitizing my life, however, does not abdicate my passion for finding the perfect notebook. There's nothing that can replace the convenience of a small notebook—jotting down notes, the feel of pen on paper, the physical accomplishment of writing an entire page. There is something intimate and personal about writing that typing can never replace. Also finishing a notebook from beginning to end give me this euphoria like no other. Same thing with completely depleting the ink of an pen. (Too bad I don't have this feeling when I need to refill my gasoline.)

As a result, I've decided to make transfer this passion for the perfect notebooks into bookbinding. Rather than spending the bulk of my time shopping around for the perfect notebook, I'll just design one. It's—well, in theory—more economical and fun.

Materials and Workshop

Let me show you the rig that I have so far.

  1. Pamplet Stapler
  2. Paper Guillotine
  3. Paper
  4. Printer

I've organized all my bookbinding material into one shelf built-in wall shelf in my room as a make-shift bookbinding workshop.

I like this spot for a multitude of reasons.

  • It has a built in overhead light so I know I have proper lighting.
  • It's not dusty like the workshop in my garage.
  • It is waist high so I have the option of bookbinding while standing up.
  • It consolidates all of my bookbinding material in one neat and organized place. I love the plastic shelf! In the nearby future, I plan to label the shelves.

Planning and Design

So far, I'm pretty satisfied with organization and workflow. It's simple: Printing, folding, stapling, and cutting.

I already have some ideas about notebook design. My Version 1 will be an 80-page staple-bound B5 notebook. (For mental reference, think about a medium sized Moleskine notebook. Mine will be similar in design to the cahier.) Personally, I find a 200+ sized notebook too big for me.I want to maximize my euphoria and minimize the loss of data as described in the introduction. Also, if I want to backup my notebook, I can easily destaple the notebook and run it through my feed scanner.

Since I make the notebook from scratch, I can format the journal in any style I like. Lined, dotted, blank, watercolor. One positive is that I can mix and match the paper design as well (for example: where one side can be dotted while the other side is blank).

The positives to making my own notebooks definitely outweighs the negatives:

Positives Negatives
A Creative Outlet Requires Physical Space for Equipment
Economical Steep Learning Curve
Customizable Less Economical if I still want to buy notebooks
Intro to Publishing DIY Notebooks look and feel less professional

What About Making Books?

Don't worry. I haven't forgotten about making books.I'm working on a progression. First, I want to focus on stapled booklets and then eventually move onto making sewn-bound books. Here the overall flowchart for this project:

graph TB subgraph Stapled A[Blank Stapled Notebook] --> B[Stapled Booklet] A -->|Five Notebooks| C[Coptic Bound Archives] end subgraph Sewn Binding C--> D[Coptic Bound Notebook] B --> E[Sewn Bound Book] end subgraph Publishing & Selling E --> F[Leather Coptic Bound Book] D --> G[Leather Coptic Bound Notebook] end

Future Updates

After I finish making a batch of Version 1, I'll make a post showing you my first impressions as well as ideas for future improvements.

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