In a time when more and more readers are choosing the glow of a tablet over an old-fashioned tome, it seems rather incredible that on a cold winter night, a meeting of the Charleston Book Union can draw a couple dozen folks to King Street’s storied old Charleston Library Society.
In fact, we shouldn’t be so surprised, notes Brien Beidler, who together with local artist Kris Westerson founded the year-old group for locals interested in book-, paper-, and print-making. “The digital age only seems to be hurting industrial machine-bound books. It’s done nothing but raise awareness of hand-bookbinding,” says Beidler, director of the Library Society’s bindery and conservation space. “People feel threatened by how much information is presented in nonphysical formats. In reaction, they’re turning their attention to more traditional means of doing things.”
While Beidler conserves old volumes and uses medieval binding techniques to make new tomes, Westerson—and other members—create “artists’ books.” “It’s the ultimate multimedia experience,” she notes. “It can incorporate photography, found objects, calligraphy, handmade paper and pulp paintings, pop-ups, and more.”
Members share presentations on their diverse creative interests during bimonthly meetings—the next one is March 12 at 7 p.m. And April 3-5, the group will host a workshop with internationally renowned bookbinder Jim Croft. Learn more about both at charlestonbookunion.wordpress.com.