5 Great How-to Books on Bookbinding

5 great how-to books on bookbinding from RuthBleakley.com

Are you interested in learning bookbinding, and wondering how you can get started binding your own books? Believe it or not, most of what I learned about making books by hand is self taught! Here are some of the most helpful do-it-yourself bookbinding books I’ve personally used, in order of easy to difficult with links to buy them on Amazon. I’ve also written a helpful post called Where to Buy Bookbinding Supplies Online that you might like too!:



5 Great How-To Books about Bookbinding: How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith
How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book

This is a great book for beginners – lots of great photos, and Esther K. Smith has a great range of projects, from super simple no-sew 8 page books to more complex binding styles. I love the raw book board cover, too!



5 Great How-To Books about Bookbinding: Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction by Aldren A. Watson
Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction

This is an older book about bookbinding, and it doesn’t have photos, but it has lots of neat, detailed illustrations. The author Aldren A. Watson also does a little bit on the history of bookbinding. Good resource for all-around bookbinding.



5 Great How-To Books about Bookbinding: Bookbinding Techniques and Projects by Josep Cambras
Bookbinding Techniques and Projects (Decorative Techniques)

This bookbinding guide written by Josep Cambras is unusual in that it was translated from Spanish! Lots of photos, but for me the best part of the book is that the author has a project on making your own Moleskine-style travel journal.



5 Great How-To Books about Bookbinding: Japanese Bookbinding by Kojiro Ikegami
Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions From A Master Craftsman

This is a dense and authoritative guide to Japanese bookbinding (the style with the stitches going down the side of the book) by Kojiro Ikegami – you learn the history of this ancient binding style and there are plenty of guides to sewing patterns.



5 Great Books About Bookbindng: Keith Smith Non Adhesive Binding Volume 1
Books without Paste or Glue

Keith Smith’s Non Adhesive Binding Vol. 1 is a must-have if you’re interested in coptic stitch binding – it’s dense and contains lots of text and many, many bookbinding projects that don’t require any glue to make. It’s definitely more technical than the other books, and with it’s biblical proportions (352 pages!) it’s more of a good reference book if you’re already into bookbinding and want to learn some new sewing techniques.


Do you have any recommendations on good how-to books? Which bookbinding book is your favorite? Post a comment!


this post contains affiliate links

About the Author




Thanks for the list, Ruth! I love Alisa Golden’s Making Handmade Books. She covers so many structures and give the essentials of each. It is the book I always start with when I am trying something new.

I also have a soft spot in my heart for books by Erin Zramzla and Jeannette Stein, not only because they are wonderful books, but also because I have taken classes from the authors 🙂


Thanks for this list Ruth, it could be mine, 4 out of 5 on my shelve 🙂 Only the one by J. Cambras is missing. On the other hand, I own two editions of the Watson, one in English, one in Dutch.

I still love the first bookbinding book I ever purchased: Cover-to-Cover by Shereen LaPlantz, it was an eye-opener for me!


I will check out Cover-to-Cover! Thanks for the suggestion – the J. Cambras one was an unusual find at my local library – but I loved that it had the special moleskine-style travel book project, something I hadn’t seen in any other tutorial at the time. I love your blog, also!


If memory serves me right, it’s like the last or next to last project?? Maybe I’m wrong! I got rid of a bunch of my books when I moved last year and it seems that was one of them 🙁

Sharmon Davidson

Thank you for these recommendations. I’m a beginner when it comes to bookbinding, so I will definitely check these out. I am also a very visual learner, and sometimes the stitching diagrams in books can be very confusing. I found that youtube is really helpful because you can watch the actual process, stopping it when you need to so that you can follow along. A good substitute for a 3-dimensional teacher, I guess.


Thanks Sharmon! Yes, I love looking at You Tube also – the great thing about the books is you can learn the names of the stitches or binding and then look it up on You Tube

Paul Thomson

Thanks for the heads up on these Ruth, there’s a couple in there that I’ve not heard of so I’ll make sure to buy them soon and have a read!

Keep up the good work! ~ Paul

Yolanda Grosso

Josep Cambras is one of the best teachers we have in Barcelona. He teaches at the School of Arts and Crafts “la Industrial” and he´s a great person! I’m glad that you find your books in USA. Greetings from Barcelona!


Hello Ruth
I am a beginner in bookbinding but I learn with an old ladie the ancient method in Portugal. I will love if you can suggest a book that teach the expose tape binding with Coptic technique. Best, Manuela


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *