Monday, April 03, 2017

Book binding

The other day, my sister Trish asked me whether I had Hillbilly Elegy and, if so, could she borrow it.

Well, yes and no.

I do have Hillbilly Elegy, but it’s on my Kindle. So if she wants it..

But most of my books aren’t on my Kindle. I still buy plenty of them, as do my sisters and brothers. And we regularly swap back ad forth.  To me, there are few pleasures greater than browsing a bookstore and picking up some new books to add to the pile on the chair next to my bed. My local is Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street, a pleasant mile or so walk to, and a less pleasant mile or so walk fro if I forget to bring my backpack. Yes, I’m one of those fortunates who has an indie nearby. Nothing against the non-indies. Borders used to be my closest bookstore, and I haunted it. But what was a quite excellent Borders is now a Walgreens specializing in makeup. And the closest Barnes & Noble is just not very good. Thankfully, there’s Trident just up the way.

I’ve always liked books. I like looking at books stacked up in the chair next to my bed. I like knowing I have books around. I like reading books.

Although I do have a few bookcases full, I don’t tend to hang onto them. Not that I’ll ever get around to rereading most of them. They’re my comfies: good to have around. But mostly your can forget that “neither a borrower nor a lender” nonsense. Books are for borrowing and books are for lending.

Not that the Kindle’s not fine – it’s especially good for traveling – but a book in the hand? Nothing like it.

But, unless the pages fall out in my hand, or the spine cracks wide open the minute I open it, I don’t think much about book binding.

Nonetheless, I was drawn to an article in the Boston Globe the other day on Acme Binding, a local bookbinding company located in the Charlestown section of Boston.

First off, there’s that wonderful name: straight out of the Depression. Or maybe out of Looney Tunes. Then there’s the fact that, although they’re now a division of a larger book binding outfit, it seems to still retain a quirky little independent feel to it. Acme’s president Paul Parisi, is the son of the company’s founder. Another son, John – on whose date of birth in 1958 the company was founded – works there as well.

Although Acme was born in 1958 (on Halloween, no less), through a acquisition that it made in the 1980’s, the company can trace its roots and claim a lineage back to 1821. That “makes it the oldest continuously operated book bindery in the world.” And that’s quite saying something.

As I noted, unless the book comes apart in my hand, I don’t spend much time worrying about book binding.

In fact, the last time I gave book binding any thought was the day I took my husband’s dissertation to be bound at some little bindery outside of Harvard Square. That would have been in 1977 or 1978.

Other than that, if asked, I might have guessed that books are printed and bound in book factories. But Acme just does binding.

Trade binding of high quality books. Periodical binding for libraries. Textbooks rebinding so that those pricey books will “last more than four times longer than new!” Short runs. (Vanity press.) Fine hand binding (for that family history you’ve been meaning to write). And, yes, thesis binding!

Parisi talks about books as if they are animate objects — old friends that hang around on bookshelves. Indeed, he wrote the standards for how library books should be made so they are sturdy and durable enough to last for years. While others are looking to exit the industry in the age of e-books, he continues to put money into the family-owned business. “Many people think print is obsolete, but I think the future is strong,” says Parisi, 63, who employs 150 people in a labyrinth-like 100,000 square-foot plant where machines systematically bind, fold, cut, perforate and box. (Source: Boston Globe) 

I’m with Paul Parisi.

I may have gone over to the dark side in terms of newspapers, but I’m still a physical book buyer.

So good on Acme Printing. May they bind long and prosper.


No comments: