Judging a book by its cover - Spear's Magazine

Judging a book by its cover

Uch, bookbinding. It's all hideous marbled covers and yellowing pages and stumpy spines, isn't it? Well, for centuries you would have been correct, but now Prometheus Bound Books is making binding beautiful. And not just beautiful, but personal

Uch, bookbinding. It's all hideous marbled covers and yellowing pages and stumpy spines, isn't it? Well, for centuries you would have been correct, but now Prometheus Bound Books is making binding beautiful. And not just beautiful, but personal.

You can pick a pre-bound book – Pride and Prejudice in pink leather (natch) or Shakespeare's Sonnets in orange lizard – for immediate delivery, or choose a title from 700 (ranging from Anna Karenina and the Bible to Gormenghast and L.A. Confidential) to create a custom-made one. The editions Prometheus Bound use are not just the latest paperbacks but ones which are carefully selected for the quality of their manufacture and illustrations; hardbacks bring the best results.

Then you choose your binding. The varied textures and materials and colours on offer could lead to sensory overload: leather (in nine colours), patent leather (the first time it's ever been offered thus), traditional moiré (which can have a leather spine), waxed cotton, oil cloth, a check cotton, and even pin-stripe wool for the irredeemable businessman. The binding is done in Wiltshire, Oxford or London, depending on the material used.

You can have initials embossed on the front, or even longer messages on the front or back, and in two to three weeks, it's yours.

Prometheus Bound was set up by Marie Stevens, a former Slaughter & May lawyer, and Sue Williams, who have been friends for 30 years and have always had a passion for books and reading. 'We were looking for a new project,' Marie says. 'We thought bookbinding was the most wonderful craft, but rather old in style, older colour and over-fancy.'

They have a concession in Harrods, in the basement gifts department (I would advise going to see and feel these books yourself), but they mainly work from their Chelsea office as an online business, mixing a twenty-first century strategy with this ancient technique.

This is (finally) a contemporary approach to book-binding. Selling for between £85 and £125, one of their books makes an enduring gift, both within the pages and without.



 

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