Review: Jannine Stein, Re-Bound

Mal wieder ein Review eines Buches in englischer Sprache, und deshalb auch der Blogpost auf Englisch. Ich hab’ auch noch 3 deutsche Bücher auf meiner Liste derer, die ich hier vorstellen möchte – die werden auch bald mal drankommen. Das zum Trost für alle, die mit Englisch so ihre Schwierigkeiten haben…

Why I bought it

I first heard about the book from Rhonda Miller (from myhandboundbooks) who is featured in the book’s gallery with her cereal box books. I happened to see it while buying other books, so I grabbed a copy of this book, too. The blurb says “Re-Bound shows you how to take everyday materials from around the house, flea markets, thrift stores, and hardware stores, and turn them into clever and eye/catching hand/bound books.[…]” And this is essentially what I expected from it, in addition to featuring an inspiring gallery of works. Whether or not it meets this promise has shaped my opinion of this book.


click to enlarge

After and introduction and a first chapter called “Getting started” in which you learn a bit about how to call different parts of a book, tools, paper grain and similar basics, you find the core of the books: 16 ideas/projects/sections distributed over 5 chapters, followed by a last chapter called the gallery. The book closes with an appendix which features 16 templates (for the 16 projects) to be copied before use, a stitch glossary and information about the contributors and the author.

Each chapter has an introductory spread with a collage from project images with a summary or theme on the left, and a longer text on the right. This introductory text gives information about materials involved. For example for chapter three: Hunting Buried Treasure. Flea Markets and Thrift stores, it gives some advice about what materials are suitable and what to observe when buying something. You will also find some advice here, where to look for materials.

Then projects are featured as an example. Each of the projects start with spread showing a large format image of the finished book, some text which explains the choices of materials or some special feature of them. And most importantly: A concise list of materials needed for this project (including measurements in metric and imperial units). Then follow step by step instructions, with graphical aids if needed, and making using of the templates included in the appendix. In boxes you will find variants or tips called “Try this”.

In the gallery of each contributor one images is presented, with a little text giving basic information about the book pictured.

My comments/Do I like it

The first impression is very good: The images are good, clear and inviting. I like the overall design and layout of the pages, from the fonts used, to the use of boxes to place hints.

Upon reading and looking closer, I was disappointed. As I mentioned above, I expected it to show me “how to take everyday materials from around the house, flea markets, thrift stores, and hardware stores, and turn them into clever and eye/catching hand/bound books.” And the books as not yet inspired me to follow a single of its projects or consult it while using a different recycled project. I’ll try to explain:

The projects and project descriptions are very specific. To make the Hot-Water-Bottle-Journal you will need a discarded hot water bottle, or one that you are willing to cut apart anyway. The project descriptions are very explicit, including explicit measures and making use of the templates that are part of the book. I would prefer in an instruction to be told  to distribute 5 holes evenly over the spine of a book no larger than 9 inches, for example, instead of being told to make a hole every inch in your 6 inch tall book. In this case you are not even told that, instead you will use a ready made template. In the first case I can easily apply the instruction to a wide range of projects whereas the instruction here want me to copy the book that has been made by the author. Applying it to new ideas and projects will require some serious thinking in the best case, and will be impossible in the worst.

This is my personal view, of course. For some that might even be encouraging: You won’t need to make your own calculations on a piece of scrap paper, you can follow the instructions really step by step, and they will be easy to follow, I am sure.

The selection of projects also does not really convince me. There were just too many that I had thought of before myself, or that are easy to come up with if and when you see the material. As an example I want to name the Paint-by-Numbers Guest Book: If you have such a paint by numbers canvas in your hand, you maybe would think of making a book with it – and what you need then is a good instruction of a book structure that works for you. But who goes out and searches for three paint by numbers canvases: one 11 3/4″ x 10 1/2″, one 10″x10 1/2″, and one 1 3/4″ x 10 1/2″?

The gallery is well made. Again we see beautiful pictures. Featured are 20 books – I would have liked to see more of them. Also very nice is the stitch Glossary at the very end. Where you will find all the stitches and knots used in a book with its name and an instruction.

Would I buy it again?

Probably I would buy it again because I still like the look of it and its layout, and I enjoy having this book in my collection. But I am a little cautious with recommending it to others. If you are looking for a book that inspires and teaches you to use up recycling material that surrounds you it might not be your first choice.If you want a book that guides you through a series of specific recycling projects then this might be just right for you.


Author: Jeannine Stein
Title: re-bound. creating handmade books from recycled and repurposed materials
Publishing House: Quarry Books, first edition from 2009, mine is the 5th edition