Just Little Books

After more than 5 ½ years, I’m finally returning to my Japanese bookbinding book reviews. Since I’m going to Japan this summer (and will likely buy more books when I’m there), I figured that I should present the remaining books in my current collection.

If you’d like to check out my previous reviews, you can do so here.

The book I’m focusing on today is the fourth in my series of reviews, and the second one written by Miyako Akai.

Just Little Books by Akai Miyako

Title: Sonomama Mamehon (Just Little Books)
Author: Miyako Akai
ISBN: 978-4-309-27206-1
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Year published: 2010
Paperback: 96 pages

I wrote a brief background on Akai in this post, so I won’t repeat that here. In short, she’s pretty nifty. Like her book ABCs of Making Miniature Books, this book reads left-to-right.

Pages 2-13 show images of 17 miniature book projects (click on the images to enlarge).

Just Little Books - pg 8

Page 8

Just Little Books - pg 11

Page 11

Just Little Books - pg 12

Page 12

Page 14 includes images of basic bookbinding tools and what seems to be a brief explanation of each tool. Pages 15-16 show bookbinding techniques such as scoring with a bone folder, cutting with an X-Acto knife, folding signatures, gluing, sewing, how to knot thread, and how to repair a torn page.

The next pages are what sets this book apart from the others reviewed to date. The pages of the book are printed with mini pages and covers that are to be cut out and then bound into the books featured in pages 2-13. Pages 17-48 contain the inside pages and pages 49-80 contain the exterior covers. The interior pages are printed on a lighter weight, cream-colored paper while the covers are printed on a heavier-weight, white paper.

Just Little Books - pg 22

Page 22

Just Little Books - pg 55

Page 55

Pages 82-95 show you how to create the book through photos and diagrams.

Just Little Books - pg 83

Page 83

Overall impressions: This book is perfect for a beginner. Even though the book is written in Japanese, there’s no doubt in my mind that a beginner should be able to successfully complete all of the bindings in this book. The instructional diagrams and pictures are very clear and easy to follow. The majority of the projects utilize the pamphlet stitch.

There’s no measuring involved (other than thread) because all of them have been done for you with the templates you cut out and bind. Of course, this means that you have to cut up the book. I’m not a big fan of cutting up my books. If you’re a Nervous Nellie like me, you can scan the pages and print them out on a color printer. Once you work through the bindings in this book, you should feel comfortable enough to adapt them to your own work.

At first, I was disappointed because this book is a lot more oriented towards the beginner. There was less room for creativity because the form and content was already done. You don’t get to choose your own paper, which for me was a bit of a bummer. Also, most of the binding structures are fairly basic. A couple of them, however, are pretty cool – they involve complex shapes and folding – these I love.

I came to the realization that I would probably not do the projects in the book as they are presented. However, it still has a use. I can scan the template pages and increase or reduce them in size and use them for my own books. The advantage here is that I just trace around the template and voila! No measurements needed. The cover templates seem to have great possibilities.

Had I known the contents of this book, I probably would not have bought it – it’s too basic for my needs. I do want to emphasize though that it has great value for someone just starting out in the book arts.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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