The Art of Making Old-Fashioned, Hand-Printed Books

Reports of traditional books’ death are greatly exaggerated, thanks in part to the success of print-on-demand publishing and other digital innovations.

As thrilled as we are about the survival of the printed page—it’s a relief to have something to read after Wi-Fi fails during the zombie invasion—the craftsmanship that goes into hand-printed, hand-bound volumes is an almost-lost art.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s video, above, documents the painstaking process, beginning with the arranging of metal type that will result in an octavo, the most common type of book.

It’s a quiet endeavor, though surely a bit louder than the V&A’s silent documentation, an unusual choice given a certain segment of the millennial populace’s appetite for well-edited artisanal craft videos in which music plays a big part.

A well-deployed tune could elevate these lovely visuals to the realms of the advanced elegy.

YouTube user, Kraftsman Sheng, attempts to remedy the situation by reproducing the video (sans attribution) with a soundtrack of his own choosing—pianist Roger Williams’ syrupy 1965 rendition of “Softly As I Leave You,” below.

An unconventional choice, to be sure. I should think something baroque would go better with all of this meticulous folding, cutting, and binding.

Though perhaps something a little more robust could highlight the hardcore heroism of the artisans toiling to keep this ancient art alive. Electric Lit has a round up of great book-inspired punk songs, of which “Time” by Richard Hell and the Voidoids seems particularly apt.

Print’s not dead!

via Atlas Obscura

Related Content:

Brazil Gives Out Books That Double as Subway Tickets, Promoting Literacy & Mass Transit at Once

The Art of Collotype: See a Near Extinct Printing Technique, as Lovingly Practiced by a Japanese Master Craftsman

Oxford University Presents the 550-Year-Old Gutenberg Bible in Spectacular, High-Res Detail

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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