Bookbinding and Book Restoration in Italy

Do you love books to the point that you want to help protect what is treasured in their pages? Whether it is antique books or more modern prints that motivate you, signing up for a bookbinding course or a book restoration course can be an extremely rewarding experience. But what is the difference between the two arts? Let’s find out with some definitions by Wikipedia.


What is Bookbinding?

Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive. For protection, the bound stack is either wrapped in a flexible cover or attached to stiff boards, and an attractive cover is adhered to the boards.

Bookbinding is a specialized trade that relies on basic operations of measuring, cutting, and gluing. Today, modern bookbinding is divided between hand binding by individual craftsmen working in a one-room studio shop and commercial bindings mass-produced by high speed machines in a production line factory. An extremely durable binding can be achieved by using the best hand techniques and finest materials when compared to a common publisher’s binding that falls apart after normal use.

Bookbinding combines skills from other trades such as paper and fabric crafts, leather work, model making, and graphic arts. It requires knowledge about numerous varieties of book structures along with all the internal and external details of assembly.

BookBinding course in Italy Tuscany


What is Book Restoration?

The goal of restoration is to return the book to a previous state as envisioned by the restorer, often imagined as the original state of the book.

Books requiring restoration treatment can vary from the very earliest of texts to books with modern bindings that have undergone heavy usage. For each book, a course of treatment must be chosen that takes into account the book’s value, whether it comes from the binding, the text, the provenance, or some combination of the three.

Many times, books that need to be restored are hundreds of years old, and the handling of the pages and binding has to be undertaken with great care and a delicate hand. The archival process of restoration can extend a book’s life for many decades and is necessary to preserve books that sometimes are limited to a small handful of remaining copies worldwide.

Book Restoration in Italy Tuscany


Learn the crafts in Italy

Studiainitalia, an agency specialised in creative travel experiences and cultural breaks, offers professional courses dedicated to bookbinding and book & paper restoration.

These courses take place in Florence, where you can learn this ancient art in a typical bottega, or artisan workshop in the historic city center.

You can book a 24, 48, 72 or 96-hour course and distribute your hours along the number of weeks of your choice. Click here for the starting dates of the bookbinding course and here for the dates of the paper restoration course.

Local artisans will be your teachers. If you don’t speak Italian, you can apply for an interpretation service; or you can take advantage of your experience to learn the language by signing up for an Italian course in Florence.

Whether you choose bookbinding or book restoration, you have access to an individual and hands-on course, which means that the programme can be adapted to your own needs. You will have local artisans as your teachers in the cheerful and informal atmosphere of their bottega workshop. They are masters concerned with maintaining Italian artisan traditions alive!


The bookbinding program includes techniques for making book and binder covers for albums and diaries; creating objects using different techniques; using colour shaded paper, fabric/leather, sand and different materials; closure techniques; creating decorated cards and envelopes – among others. More information, rates & info on accommodation

The book restoration program includes a brief history of paper; techniques of restoration and conservation; presentation of a project file; individual compilation of a project file; doing a restoration project (cleaning, cuts, tears, patches, and techniques of sewing); methods of conservation and creating of a cover for books, creation of samples. More information, rates & info on accommodation


Interested in knowing more about these experiences? Watch this video with testimonials of students who completed the Bookbinding / Book Restoration Courses in Florence by Studiainitalia.
YouTube video