When folks find out that I’m in the “book” business, I’m often asked how they can have a beloved book repaired, restored, rebound, etc. In the past, I wouldn’t know what to tell them, because I wasn’t acquainted with any book binders.
But then I met Jen Geraedts of Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery in Park Rapids, MN. When I found out she started a bindery, I started asking a lot of questions. A lot of questions. Then I decided that the best way to learn about the bindery would be to send a cherished book in need of repair to Jen to work her magic. So I selected the copy of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that I had inherited from my uncle.
And then I returned it to the shelf and selected a book that was not precious or treasured, but was still in need of repair. (Sorry, Jen.)
When my copy of A Short History of the English People by J.R. Green arrived, Jen began documenting her process. She also would send me updates on the progress and how the book was holding up, almost like a note from the teacher. When I received the first update, she explained, “When I work on a book, I learn the book’s personality (the most persnickety tend to be bibles, go figure).”
You can imagine how proud I was to learn that my book was easy-going and accommodating. But then another update a few days later said, “By the way… your book’s personality is very nice, accommodating and pleasant, but resists perfection.”
Jen also sent me an essay she wrote titled I Love Old Men. Although it was written to be performed in a theater company that she started with a friend, Jen says that it ultimately was about her bookbinding mentor.
I loved how Jen made the process so personal. She kept in touch. She got to know my book. She showed that she was exerting great care.
When it was all said and done, Jen worked on my book for 4 days. (Not constantly, she reminded me. There is drying time, after all.) She took photos of the process and uploaded them as a slideshow on YouTube.
Here are the four days of progress, condensed to less than 2 minutes each.