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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Book Jackets teaches members to bind books throughout spring semester

Participants bind fan fiction works up to 700 pages in length.
Ursula Saadeh
Left to right: Bella Issa and Cori Slaw show the initial stage of the books they are binding.

BW’s book club, Book Jackets, is sponsoring a series of events throughout the 2024 spring semester, providing participants with the opportunity to bind their own books.

Book binding is the process of making and putting together a book. This process involves printing, folding and sewing together the pages, gluing the spine and putting on the cover.

Bella Issa, a junior theatre student and vice president of Book Jackets, originally pitched the idea for the book binding events.

“I thought it would be a really cool idea to take this club that we created and use it to do this activity that I don’t see anyone else who runs a book club do,” Issa said.

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Planning for these events began in April of last year. Book Jackets had to receive funding, order all of the materials and book the rooms. Heidi Thoenen, associate professor of English and the faculty advisor for Book Jackets, was in charge of scheduling rooms.

“It’s been something they’ve wanted to do from the very beginning, so I’m very glad we’re able to make it happen,” Thoenen said. “It’s a pretty large undertaking, financially, but also logistically trying to make everything work.”

The first meeting took place on Jan. 26 after it was rescheduled due to a snowstorm. Book Jackets hosted this event in Ritter Library.

Book Jackets members meet in the Ritter Library for their first session on book binding. (Courtesy of Bella Issa)


During this first session, participants focused on typesetting, printing and folding these pages into little booklets, called “signatures.”

There is still time for anyone interested to become involved in this Book Jackets event, before the second meeting occurs. The binding steps performed in the first session could be made up at a later time, but Issa said it becomes more difficult after the second meeting.

“We want it to be successful, and we want people to have products that they’re happy with,” Issa said. “We don’t want people to be stressed just because they can’t make it to one Friday out of the while three months.”

During the second meeting that will take place Friday, participants will work on poking holes in their signatures, sewing them together and then gluing the spines. Then, it will all come together during the last meeting tentatively set for March 15.

To design the covers, Book Jackets will provide book cloths and paints, along with potentially purchasing a foil quill that uses heat to transfer gold foil onto the book covers.

“There’s nothing better than creation, and what’s better than creating a book you absolutely adore?” Theonen said. “That’s what this is going to give people, an opportunity.”

There a few options available to students over what they can bind. Book Jackets is printing works that are as long as 700 pages.

“You bind a blank journal, you can make a planner, you can take something you’ve read online—such as a fan fiction— and bind that, you can bind your own work,” Issa said.

Fan fiction is work written by someone based on another, pre-existing piece of media. The vast majority of the fan fiction is found on the internet. The book binding events allow participants to take their favorite works—or ones they wrote themselves—and shape it into a physical book they can hold.

The problem that typically comes with binding fan fiction is copyright infringement. Since they are based on other people’s works, it can not be printed through large printing companies. Book Jackets is providing the opportunity to print and bind these works themselves, avoiding any criminal activity.

“I don’t think there’s anything as beautiful as the experience of a book, a tangible book, there’s nothing like it: opening that first crisp page, or opening the pages of an old book,” Thonen said. “In these days where everything is digital, it’s so nice to have that piece of history.”



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    Sara EFeb 14, 2024 at 6:36 pm

    What a fun idea! Love the creativity.