Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to Bind Your Own Book

This project came into mind when my mom kept nagging me that she wanted to read my own work. So, not knowing what I was getting into, I decided to bind a copy of my work together, by hand, to give to her as a gift  for Christmas after I had finished writing my book. As I worked on this project, I chronicled my adventure because it would make an awesome blog entry. After much lip flapping, here it is:

First, I had to collect all of the separate Word documents into a single one, and then put it into book format with five pages to a booklet. To say this was the most difficult part of the project would be a lie, but it did induce much screaming and banging on things. After fixing multiple formating errors, and after checking to see that I had sufficient ink and paper stock, I was ready to begin. 

I should note that a printer that prints double sided is a must. I have a nifty HP Photosmart Premium C410 series that does the job nicely. (Here is where I thank my parents for the pricy not-so-little machine that made my desk wobble every time it spat out my work like it was about to take off for space. [It has since been moved.] It is my favorite little office assistant even though it is expensive to feed.)

Here is the finished product:

My stack of freshly printed pages. What a pain to sort.
After printing I double checked for errors. The only problem is that you have to print off the whole batch. You can't go back and reprint single pages if something flubbed. It did pretty good, except the page numbers were on the inside margin of the page and not the outside. Oh well. Word didn't exactly let me see what the whole format for a book page would look like, a flaw they should fix. (As another note, I have Office 2010, so I'm not going to give directions since I don't know how earlier versions set up this format.)

Since the batch prints out at once, I had to go through and divide out the 5 page booklets and fold them.

The first five pages folded and ready for reading. 13 more to go.

This is why you need page numbers. Without them,  you're screwed.

Done. That was that was the easy part.
Now it was time for me to gather the rest of the supplies.

My folded pages, ruler, scissors, box cutter, pencil, packing tape, needle, thread, cardboard from my garage, and paper bags from the grocery store.

The only purchase I made. The whole thing cost me $1.99.
Once I had done that, I could get started on the assembly of the actual book. The first step: sew together each booklet so the pages don't come apart. (I know it seems like common sense, but I can see people forgetting this.)

This is where I discovered that I had to loop the thread around the end of the page and tie it to itself so it didn't slip through. I was impressed at how straight I could make it.
First booklet done. Now 13 more to do.

Back view, and I tell you, this was not coming apart no matter how hard I pulled.
The finished product, so far. My stitches were so neat I almost didn't want to cover them up.
This work was tedious. I ended up with a finger and thumb so sore using the remote control hurt. I had to stop every few booklets to recover. It was moments like this I wished I had a thimble, or a sewing machine. The worst part, tying 28 little knots. (To think I might do this again after the work I'm doing on Hands of Ash now.)

I did notice a slight problem after I had sewn all the pages together. The margins didn't look right. It was time for some trimming.

Cut on cardboard or you'll screw up your table. We wouldn't want that now, would we?

I used a box cutter to trim off half an inch because I was too broke to afford an exacto-knife. It looks so much better now.

Cover time. Using the cardboard I didn't trim my pages on, I measured out a 1 x 9 in spine, and two 5 x 9 inch covers.

Wha-la! Aren't they lovely.
After cutting out the pieces, I tested to make sure that my pages fit. The edge of the cardboard should hang over all the edges of the paper when moved in about a fourth of an inch from the fold. Then I laid them out and used the packing tape to tape them together, leaving about a fourth of an inch between the pieces. Use the tape only on the inside. (I tried doing the outside too, it didn't really work.)

Those spaces are important. I swear.
See, I said they were important.
Here is where my $1.99 came in. (All purpose white glue is perfect for the rest of this project.) I glued down one of the covers to one side of the grocery bag that I cut away from the rest of the panels to get one smooth piece of paper. Then I trimmed the bag so that it would fit around the edges of the cover.

Make sure the sections to be folded over are big enough to do so. Too small, and everything will just peel apart.
I had to improvise for the spine to make sure that everything was covered. A lot of this was guess work. Successful guess work.
Now you see everything take shape.
Remember those little spaces? Make sure to tuck the bag into them to make a little indentation. This will help strengthen the fold. Let the cover dry before you move on to the spine and so forth or else the book will fall apart and you'll have to start all over again.

After everything had dried, I added those colorful pages that line the book covers on the inside. The problem I had was that I had left all my scrapbook paper that I use for origami at my previous residency, and so used some pretty underwater paper with whales that had nothing to do with my story in anyway.

I folded it over to see how much I had to trim off, leaving the spine exposed.
Then I glued it down. See how good that looks.
Both sides done.
I don't have pictures for the next part, bear with me. It had to be done pretty fast.

I took the glue and put it all over the inside of the spine. Holding my pages together so that they were even, I pressed the folds down onto the spine and lifted the covers up to sandwich the pages in. I evened out any pages that had gone rebellious on me as I applied pressure to the spine and cover to make sure that the glue set. After making sure that everything was straight, I dug around for 3 rubber bands while I clutched my fragile project.

I left it this way for a few hours. Better safe than sorry.
After wrapping the rubber bands around the book, I added some glue on the spine at the edge of the pages. When done, it turned out this way:

Those lovely stitches.
Power outage = no title on the cover.
So glad the spine held together.
This is were I gloat and say what a damn good job I did. I didn't use a youtube video, or another person's blog. I did this all from memory. I cannot say how happy I was to do such an awesome job on this project, especially with the power outage that happened around the same time. My mother loved it. She even made me sign it.

I know that this blog probably isn't as helpful about binding your own book as another source, but whatever. Don't kill my happy.