With books set to move into the digital era with e-readers, bookbinders such as the Chocolate Factory’s Jo Bird are fighting a rearguard action by creating exquisite, hand-crafted limited editions.
One aspect of our cultural world that seems to be almost constantly decreasing in value is literature. As fine art and design art reach stratospheric prices, books have become virtually disposable. Once a symbol of wealth and intellect, today you can buy a paperback for £5 in almost any supermarket or corner newsagent. Add to that a growing fashion for e-books and it’s easy to see why bookbinder Jo Bird is a rare beast indeed.
‘Modern books are crap quality,’ says Bird, acknowledging the decline of the bookbinding craft. ‘They’re machine-bound, the paper is cheap and the glues are rubbish. You need to be very committed to become a bookbinder today.’