On my post on Cook's Voyage, my friend and colleague, Mihai from Romania, left a brief, yet commissarial comment about a daily dilemma that "common" bookbinders have to face, which prompted me to write this post. The following is his comment, (copy-pasted);
Very very beautiful! In my experience, I m faced with a dilemma: doing the best restoration job I can or listening to what the client wants. I ve often volunteered to sew a book on my own time when the client just wanted it glued, so it would cost less, because the book was worth it. I feel bad doing a cheap job, but I realize not every client affords intricate and laborious solutions. That s why now I tend to be less critical of poor bindings I see from older binders, because I realize that even if they wanted and knew how to do better, the clients would have refused and stuck with the cheap versions. Thank you for sharing!
This matter is so close to home to me as a "common-public-serving" restorer that I wanted to fly to Romania on the first flight available just to be able to put my hand on his shoulder, and say "I hear you, man..". (haha...)
We, the common binders, serve mostly for the ordinary folks often with limited funds, so we have to balance and find a solution as to what's best for the client and what's best for the book. Like Mihai, although my clients wouldn't know this, I often end up doing way more than I'm paid for because I can't possibly do less of a work just because the money's not enough. Money, after all, is a mere object. My dignity as a craftswoman and the destiny of books I handle, aren't.
This, rather old fashioned sentiment of mine sometimes can't really apply when the uncompromisable required labor exceeds well beyond the client's budget, resulting the client to lean towards an "option" that totally undermines the quality of work. In a rare case like this, my answer always is and has been and will be; I could not possibly put my name on a kind of job that you are asking me to do. Take my word or leave it.
A situation like this is rare yet has happened before, but clients always understood where I came from and chose to go with my direction though I, of course, spent extra labors each time. The bottom line is, I always take any job regardless if my belief and sincerity are received, and do the best and right thing for the book despite my labor, every time.
Remember, "You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you." Again, money is a mere object, guys. ;-)