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Society of Bookbinders Conference, Keele – August 2015

Book signing !   Bernard C. Middleton

We, my wife Belinda and I, experienced the unfamiliar side of the Society of Bookbinders Conference this year, that of the supplier.  I have been attending the biennial conference of bookbinders since going to Telford in 1999, but have not before been part of the gathering of sales people at a full conference. The preparation such an event demands, both before and at the stand, is wholly unseen and unrecognised by delegates and day visitors, but for each of those represented will entail much time and focus.

We prepared a full catalogue of books which came to fruition close to the start of the event.  Providing a full list of books itself is demanding, but so is the printing and finalising. With a new book publication to offer, and a signing to organise, the demands prior to leaving Oxford were multiplied.

Fortunately we reached Keele in good time on Thursday, well before the beginning of delegate registration.  We were very well placed with the hall, which was itself a very suitable setting for the trade suppliers, and relatively quickly had our stand in place.

Although delegates drifted through on Thursday, nothing really could have prepared us for the rush we experienced on the Friday, as Bernard signed copies of his new, and keenly awaited, book to an expectant queue of binders.  We were helped during refreshment breaks by Sam Ellenport in un-wrapping copies for signing – and so had something like a production line in progress at the busiest times. Sales continued to be swift throughout the day and only diminished towards the end of the afternoon on Saturday.  Copies of previously published titles, including our own – Fahey – Finishing, also did well.

We donated a copy of Bernard’s book – A Bookbinder’s Miscellany – signed by all three contributors, Bernard, Sam and myself – for sale at the ‘Live Auction’ at the Conference Dinner and were pleased to see that this attracted a bid of £60 for the Society’s Education and Training fund.

To meet many familiar binders, and meet and talk to new faces (and to attend the occasional lecture and view the binding competition entries), added to the fun of the selling  and made the time away a rewarding experience, and one certainly we’ll seriously consider repeating next time.

Our next event will be at the ABA Book Fair, Chelsea, in November, when Bernard will again be offering to sign copies of his book.

The catalogue mentioned is available on-line, though on request a hard copy can be provided.





 Essays on Fine Binding – With an Introduction by Sam Ellenport

 Bernard C. Middleton

Published: Oxford, Alan Isaac Rare Books.

114p, 225 x 158mm, illustrated with line drawings and coloured plates, sewn, cloth gilt, hardbound.

An edition of 500 copies.  £25 [post & packing – UK £2, Europe £7, Rest of the world £9]

Enquiries – Alan Isaac Rare Books – 15, Polstead Road, Oxford, OX2 6TW

Tel: 01865 516449, Email:,

Please ORDER through the Bookshop page.

Posted by on November 21st, 2015 | Comments Off on Society of Bookbinders Conference, Keele – August 2015
Posted in Bookbinding