What are transferable skills and why do you need them? What does it mean to be employable today and in the future?...
- A craft that requires good use of your hands, turning printed paper into books and catalogues
- You will likely be based in a factory or workshop, and may need to use ear protectors
- Option to be self-employed, work from home, and travel to meet clients
Craft bookbinders work by hand, using traditional materials, such as cloth or leather, to cover and bind books. This role may also involve restoring and repairing antique books, cleaning discoloured pages or using leathers and papers to match those originally used.
Your role could include setting up machinery, feeding paper into machinery, reporting machine breakdowns, taking away and stacking finished products, cutting paper to the correct size, or folding paper and glueing or stapling sections together. If you're a craft or hand bookbinder, you may use hand tools to make bindings for books and to sew pages, using traditional materials to add decoration and clean discoloured pages, producing specialist books like family histories or books for libraries and museums, or repairing antique books.
As a bookbinder, you could work in a print shop on the high street, in the print department of a local council or university, at a specialist company that does finishing and binding, or in a factory or in a workshop. Your working environment may be dusty and noisy. You could also be employed by a museum or archive, or work as a self-employed bookbinder.
There are no set requirements for this role however, you could do a foundation degree or degree in, design crafts, fine art printmaking, or art conservation and restoration. You'll need to check that your chosen course covers methods used in bookbinding.
You could also get into this work by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in print finishing. Alternatively, you could start out as a print room or reprographics assistant and work your way up through experience and taking courses. You may find it useful to have GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent qualifications.
To apply directly to become a bookbinder employers will expect you to have some relevant experience in the printing trade. You could take short specialist courses in craft binding and finishing. These can be done through organisations like the Society of Bookbinders and Designer Bookbinders.
With experience, you could become a supervisor, or work for a specialist print finishing company. You could also move into other jobs like printing or sales. As a craft bookbinder, you could improve your job prospects by joining the Society of Bookbinders or Designer Bookbinders.