Information

Please browse through the headings below for information on the materials and techniques that go into my books as well as what you need to know about placing an order, accepted forms of payment, and much more.

HAND SEWING

Most blank books I sell are sewn by hand.  The pages are folded into sections called signatures.  The pages are sewn together through the center of these folds using cotton thread.  This results in a book that will lay open completely flat (no "mousetrapping" which occurs when some books want to snap closed on themselves).  This is especially desirable in a guest book that needs to lay open flat on a table during an event.  One exception to handsewing on this site are the Daily Journals which are oversewn on an oversewing machine.  This is a less elegant method of sewing, but is very durable (my own journal is oversewn!) and also very fast which is one reason why those particular books are the least expensive.  Oversewing requires the use of lighter-weight paper than handsewing techniques. So, obviously, you could not oversew a sketchbook or album with heavy paper pages.  The other exceptions to handsewing are the photo albums.  Photo albums are not sewn.  They are assembled using a gluing process that is also done by hand.  This process allows me to add spacers to the spine that leave space for the thickness of the photos that will be mounted in the album by you.  This way the album does not look "overstuffed" when it's full of photos.  (See the paragraph below on photo albums for more info.)



PAPER

The paper chosen for the book pages is carefully selected.  All pages consist of (lined or unlined) acid-free and/or archival paper.  Special attention is paid to paper weight and paper grain to ensure the resulting book functions as smoothly as possible.  Paper used in journals is selected to be easy to write on (or sketch on) with everything from ballpoint pens to fountain pens to pencils.  I even have one customer who happily sketches in her journal using charcoal.  The exception to this is the paper used in the Daily Journals which is a run-of-the-mill blue-lined notebook-style paper.  It is, however, acid-free.  If you would prefer a Daily Journal with unlined paper inside, or if you would like a Daily Journal that is handsewn, please see the section on custom orders.



ADHESIVES

All adhesives used are archival PVA (poly vinyl acetate).  SOME book covers that are covered in cloth-based materials utilize animal glue for gluing the cover material to the boards.  If this is the case, it is mentioned in the individual listing.



LEATHERS

Most covers are made with leather over board (though I do use bookcloth in some cases).  I often use pigskin leather because it has a lot of stretch to it and that works well with many of my relief cover designs.  I also use cow hide and some goat skin.  On rare occasions I use fine bookcalf.  Bookcalf is extrememly expensive book leather, however, so that would obviously be reflected in the price.  Please note that I cannot make the covers with raised or recessed areas using bookcloth (if you are morally opposed to leather); it does not stretch enough.  Also, please note that not all types and colors of leather that were used on the books pictured on my gallery page are always available.  It has become increasingly difficult to consistently stock some colors and types of leather.  It is possible to get leather in almost any color, but if it is an unusual color (“unusual” meaning anything other than black, brown, dark green, burgundy, navy, or red), it can get very expensive.  I have ordered unusual colors of leather for custom orders in the past where one small goatskin cost well over $200 for the LEATHER ONLY before factoring in the cost of other supplies and labor that go into the making of the book.



FOIL STAMPING

Some covers are decorated using hot foil stamping.  This invariably leads people to ask if I can put names or other inscriptions on the books I make.  On SOME already-finished books it is possible to add a minimal amount of type to a book cover.  But type CANNOT be added to the spine of a book once it is finished.  (Stamping on the spine is done before the cover is joined with the pages when you can still lay the cover out flat under the stamping machinery.  With the books pictured on this site that are already finished, this is no longer possible.)  If you do request custom stamping, there is NO WAY for you to return the book to me if you are not satisfied in some way.  Once you have it customized, it's yours .  Please e-mail me to inquire about the cost of custom printing on a book cover.  I WILL NOT stamp on anything I don't make; no names on Bibles, manufactured photo albums, etc.  Custom-made books can be stamped in a variety of ways.

 

JOURNALS AND GUEST BOOKS

I construct journals and guest books to be long-lasting and easy to use.  Custom-order journals and guest books are sewn by hand so that they lay open completely flat.  I use archival paper and try to avoid extremely delicate cover materials for the sake of durability.  Custom wedding guest books can be extremely personal to the couple.  They can include a photograph on the cover, favorite short quotes or sayings, they can incorporate colors used in the wedding, and can be as casual, formal, fun, or serious as the couple themselves.  Journals can be custom made to the individual and can include as many pages as the customer wants and a cover design that fits their personality and interests.  I am able to make journals with both lined and unlined paper in one book in case you like to write AND sketch.  Please see my gallery page to see what others have had me create for them in the past.



PHOTO ALBUMS

The photo albums I make are constructed like a scrapbook.  I use heavy, archival paper for the pages and add spacers to the spine to allow for the thickness of the photos you will add later.  Photos are attached to the pages using clear, archival, self-stick photo corners, archival double-sided sticky squares (I include either the corners or the squares with your photo album order; whichever you would prefer), or a VERY SMALL amount of glue.  The cost of a photo album depends in part on the size and number of pages.  I will not make a photo album with more than 50 pages.  I can leave enough space in the spine, however, so that you can mount photos on BOTH sides of every page.  That means that in a 50-page album you have 100 SIDES to mount photographs on.  Albums will cost more if the page is wider than 10”.  (This has to do with the size of the larger sheet of paper that I use to cut the album pages from.)  Album pages can be off-white, black, or a light tan/cream color. Black pages cost more than the other two colors.  If you are placing an order for a custom photo album it is important for me to know if you intend to mount photos on one or both sides of every page.



CUSTOM ORDERS

Though I originally designed this site primarily to act as a place to sell blank books that I have already designed and completed, it has really turned into a site that connects me with people looking for custom books.  I really enjoy custom orders, but because I do this in my spare time, it is hard to know when I will be available to make a custom book.  It is best to e-mail me about this.  If I have between 7-10 custom orders in a given month, it may take me several weeks to complete yours (depending on the complexity of the design).  At certain times of the year, it may take me 4-6 weeks to complete an order.  Some have taken 3 months! In the section of already-finished books that are for sale on this site, every book I have for sale at this time is pictured.  You will be buying the actual book that is pictured, not one "like" it.  At the bottom of each individual book listing you will see how many of that design are currently available.  If you like a design but wish it came in a different color than what you see on the site, then you have to e-mail me about a custom order.  In some cases, I do have more colors of a certain style available than the one color pictured.  If that is the case, it appears in the listing.  If you are interested in another color that appears in the listing but is not pictured, please contact me by e-mail and if I have a completed book in the color and design you want, I'll gladly e-mail you a photo.  Otherwise, we can discuss a custom order.



HOW A CUSTOM ORDER WORKS

A custom order starts when you e-mail me and tell me as many details as possible about what you are looking for.  Is it a journal, a photo album, or something else?  In a journal, do you want lined or unlined pages?  What size?  What design would you like for the cover?  Usually, I end up exchanging anywhere from 3-30 (okay, 30 is extreme, but it does happen!) e-mails with customers to work out the details of a custom order.  Once we work out the details, I can give you a price.  If you want to go ahead with the order, I will e-mail you a PayPal invoice for half the cost of the order (not including shipping).  Please see the paragraph below for more information on this policy.  After you have paid the 50% downpayment/deposit, I will begin working on your book.  When the book is finished, I can e-mail you photos of it if you like.  Then I will e-mail you a second invoice for the balance due plus the shipping costs.  If you cannot pay by PayPal, I also accept personal checks and money orders.  (Please see paragraph below on payment.)



IMPORTANT POLICY: DOWNPAYMENT: 
Customers who place custom orders will  need to pay a deposit of half the cost of the order before an order can be started.  Once we work out all of the details, I will give you a firm price and if you want to go ahead with the order, I will send you a PayPal invoice for half the cost of the order (not including shipping).  I will start working on the order only after this deposit had been paid.  When the order is done, I will e-mail you a second PayPal invoice for the balance of the cost of the book AND shipping.  If you are a returning/repeat customer in good standing, I will give you the option of paying for the entire order when the book is done. I devote a lot of time to my custom orders and I need a downpayment from you to know that you are as serious about your order as I am.



CUSTOM HOT FOIL STAMPING: CUSTOM ARTWORK, LOGOS, ETC.

It IS possible to have your own design stamped (in foil) on the cover of a custom order book.  This involves having a metal die made.  The artwork that is sent off to the die maker needs to be black and white only (no colors or shading or gray tones) or a line drawing without shading.  Dies vary in cost depending on the size (usually from about $60-$150+).  Some of the books pictured in my gallery of custom order books have had custom dies made for stamping their cover decorations.  This is mentioned in the description if this is the case.  I charge only what the die maker charges me.  And when the order is finished, the die is yours to keep.  Many people seem to like seeing their design in relief on a chunk of metal!  I will make it clear when quoting a price on the custom order that my charge for the book does not include the charge for having the die made.  I am pretty good at guessing what a die will cost based on the size of the design you want stamped on the cover, but do not know the exact cost until the die has been made.



CUSTOM HOT FOIL STAMPING: LETTERING & DECORATIONS

You DO NOT have to have a die made for letting on a book cover.  I do have access to moveable metal type that is used to stamp words on the covers and spines of books.  However, there is not much choice in the way of fonts.  The choice is basically serif or san serif.  However, for most applications, the moveable metal type looks quite nice.  I also have some “stock” decorations I can use on a cover.  Most are nature-y like leaves, a tree, etc.  I also have access to some standard geometric-type decorations often used to divide lines of type on a cover.  Let me know what you want and I'll tell you if I have it or if a custom die will have to be made.  I have a wide variety of colors I can use to stamp on the cover of a book including the following metallic colors:  gold, silver, pewter (dark silver), light blue, copper, turquoise, and red.  I also have the following non-foil colors (they are not shiny like foil):  navy blue, burgundy, dark green, tan, white, black, purple, pink, electric green, and electric blue.



PAYMENT

For payment I accept credit cards online thorough PayPal, money orders, or personal checks.  I do wait for both personal checks AND money orders to clear before I ship out a book.  Sometimes it can take 2 weeks for a personal check to clear. If you want to mail me a payment for an existing book, I will gladly send you my address, but you need to e-mail me first to get it.  I want to make sure the book you want is still available before any money is sent.  If you want to pay by PayPal, let me know so that I can e-mail you a PayPal invoice.  If you are placing a custom order, I require a 50% deposit before I can start an order.  Once we have worked out all of the details and the price, I will e-mail you a PayPal invoice for the deposit.  When the order is finished, I will e-mail you a second PayPal invoice for the balance and the shipping.  I prefer PayPal since the payment is instant for me if you pay using a credit card or PayPal balance.




OVERSEAS ORDERS

I will gladly ship books to customers overseas.  Overseas customers must pay me in American dollars using PayPal ONLY.  Of course overseas shipping is more expensive and I have to warn overseas customers that SOME packages I have sent to other countries have been randomly opened by customs and occasionally, people will get hit with customs fees.  This has happened when shipping to Canada and could happen when shipping books to countries in the European Union (and maybe some others).  In order to fully insure a book in the mail, I need to declare its true value.  (If I undervalue the book I am subject to huge fines by the U.S. postal service if caught.)  This may lead to you having to pay a customs fee based on that value.  I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for any customs fees, tariffs, or taxes levied by a foreign country into which I'm shipping a book.  Paying any fees incurred is the responsibility of the person receiving the book.  I have heard that sometimes you will not be allowed to receive or even see your package until you pay the customs fee imposed by your country.  So far, this has been RARE and seems to be a very random occurrence, but I wanted to warn any overseas customers about this possibility.



SHIPPING

I like to use Priority Shipping through the U.S. Mail (with insurance added just to be safe) or FedEx Ground (which gives you a tracking number).  Once you e-mail me with your address, I can figure up the shipping cost for you when your book is finished and e-mail you a total.  If you prefer another method of shipping (UPS, etc.) you can tell me that and I'll use the shipping service you prefer for your order.  Of course, any overseas customers will have to be willing to pay a bit higher shipping cost as well as insurance on the package.  SHIPPING COSTS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE LISTED PRICE OF THE BOOKS.



RETURNS

I am open to returns and refunds on ALREADY-COMPETED BOOKS ONLY, as long as you send the book back in the same new condition and in the same well-packaged box it was sent to you in.  You also need to buy insurance for it when mailing it back to insure against damage in the mail.  I will not refund money before receiving the book back.  As mentioned above, customized books (with any personalized cover stamping) CANNOT be returned.  There are no returns on custom orders.



HOW TO PURCHASE A BOOK & ILLINOIS SALES TAX

This simple little site doesn't work like Amazon.com. :)  You do not have a shopping cart and cannot purchase directly from this site.  However, you CAN purchase my books directly from me.  So if you see something you like, please e-mail me at tedra@fineblankbooks.com and we can start your order rolling.  I should also note that state sales tax will be added to any orders being shipped in/to the state of Illinois (current sales tax rate is 8.75%).



OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

People ALWAYS ask me to repair their old books.
I WILL NOT REPAIR OLD BOOKS!!!!!
Yes, I know HOW to repair old books, but I hate doing it.  Working with rotten old material is tedious and not something I am interested in doing at all.  So please do not ask!  I would refer you to the small bindery where I work; the Lincoln Bookbindery in Urbana, Illinois with a website addres of:
http://www.lincolnbindery.com
Click on the "repair and rebinding" heading on this site.  You must send the book in so we can see it IN PERSON (photos are not adequate) before we can give you a price quote.
 Or I would suggest you type "book repair", "book rebinding", or "book conservation" into a search engine.  Please keep in mind that this type of time-intensive work is not cheap, no matter who you go with, so be prepared!  If it seems "too good (too cheap) to be true", it probably is.  I'd be wary of anyone who gives you a very low price for doing book repair.  Remember, a book repaired incorrectly may make future correct repairs impossible.

 

SMALL EDITIONS OF SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS

If you are looking to self-publish a small edition of books (200 or less) that you would like hard-bound, I encourage you to check out the website for my regular job, the Lincoln Bookbindery, at www.lincolnbindery.com. We specialize in hardcover micro-editions.