• Marcy Dewey Mahoney

Adventures in Bookbinding: Writing and designing a paperback book!



My niece Natalie has been sending me letters over the last year with stories and characters that she came up with to battle our superhero team “The Dackticons.” (The Dackticons are the Adirondack Mountain branch of the Autobots, comprised of Natalie, her brothers Owen and Harrison, her cousin Laura, myself and my husband.) In her latest letter to me this fall, she asked “So, Aunt Marmy, will you write this book for me?” So, of course, we had to. For National Novel Writing Month in November, Bryan and I wrote a 9 chapter book following Nat’s story outlines, and then printed, designed and bound them ourselves.


Once the story was written and edited, I created a template in InDesign to lay out the books so that we could print them on letter sized (8.5x11) paper and fold each page in half. (That was a fun puzzle to figure out!) We found some good, paperback book-like paper to have the book innards printed up on, and then had to fold each individual paper with bone folders. It was surprisingly fun and didn't take as long as I would have thought.


Next I made cheapo book-presses out of large paint sticks and some nuts and bolts. We then did a perfect bind process with PVC (Elmers) glue on the spines. Most of them turned out pretty good, though a few were a little crooked, but hey - it was our first bookbinding so I call it a win. Then I designed book covers and had them printed on paperback book cover glossy cardstock. We cut them to size and scored the spines from the inside with bone folders, and then attached with the same PVC glue.


We completed the books just in time to give them to the kiddos for Christmas. It was the most fun writing on a deadline I’ve ever had! We even got to read some of the book to them while we were home for Christmas, and so far, it’s a hit! Can’t wait to hear how they like the ending!