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Much-loved books can become beautiful again

An expertly bound book is a thing of great beauty

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Much-loved books can become beautiful again

December 21 2009
Lucia van der Post

A beautiful book is one of life’s great treats and a special binding can help turn your favourite work into something to treasure forever. All over the country there are specialist bookbinders, sometimes found in grand emporia such as Asprey (which has a splendid traditional bookbinding section), but also to be tracked down in small galleries such as Flow in London’s Notting Hill, which usually has an annual exhibition displaying the work of some of the most creative binders.

But now a new company, Prometheus Bound, makes it easier than ever to make something special of a book of poetry, a new novel, an old family heirloom or a historic tome, by offering its services online. While it has a cache of some 600 books to hand, any of which can be ordered and bound in one of its special bindings, it will also help restore and bind old or favourite books that its customers already own. It will also source books that its customers are having trouble tracking down.

Its take on bookbinding is primarily fairly contemporary, with 38 different bindings to choose from, ranging from traditional leathers to cloths, patent leathers (vibrant lime green oilcloth with a purple spine, for instance) and wood. The website takes customers through the selection process, offering a range of options as well as the chance to have special messages or initials incorporated into the binding, while the title is engraved on the spine. Each book comes with a fine bookmark which can have a personal message incorporated.

Prices range from £85 to about £125 (the book and messages cost extra), depending on the size and the materials being used, and it’s best to allow about three weeks for the whole process. So gather up your favourites, the ones that get read and re-read until they start to fall apart, and make them beautiful again. A specially bound classic also makes a terrific birthday, christening or special anniversary present.