Over years, books are subject to wear-and-tear caused by many factors including repeated use, rough handling, climate, and age. Treasured family heirlooms, such as family bibles or irreplaceable editions of important works of literature, including first editions of rare books, often need to be repaired at some point, especially if they are very old.
Denis Gouey, a bookbinder in Torrington, Connecticut, specializes in restoring books and in the preservation of important documents, photos, and artwork. A typical day for Gouey starts around 8:00 AM and ends from 6:30 to 7:00 PM. He says, “Light is essential, so well-lit rooms are the perfect situation for a bookbinding studio. My work environment is different than most binderies because of the storefront. I operate as a book/print/art shop. Of course, there is the Internet business, answering mail, and other tasks, and I do this after work hours.”
Interview with Denis Gouey, Bookbinder
Denis Gouey fell in love with books at an early age. “When I was a kid, my mother took me to the market every Saturday where there was a seller with used books displayed on a table. I became fascinated with books and all the paraphernalia around them: the people, the stories, the knowledge, and the beauty.”
In high school, Gouey applied for a printing program at a trade school, but the career advisor thought he'd be better at bookbinding because of his artistic talent. It was good advice. “Emphasis was bench work, but also history and art. I did well. The class was small and the teacher terrific, and at seventeen-and-a half years old I graduated and soon found my first job.”
Gouey finds bookbinding to be a rewarding and fulfilling career. “Being instrumental in the creation or preservation of historical objects brings on a sense of great satisfaction. The interaction with objects and clients is a rewarding experience. It makes for a very interesting life.”
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