Bookbinder Peter James , who serves as head forwarder for the Government Printing Office, takes part in many stages of the bookbinding process.
“I’ll fill in for anybody,” he said, “because I have the ability to do anyone else’s job here.”
James credits his college education for his versatility.
“What I was taught there has set me up for everything that is fundamental for bookbinding,” he said. “By going through the London College of Printing, you have pretty much the best rounded knowledge of the trade.”
James applied his skills to the production of the latest edition of “The Public Papers of the President,” which he worked on from start to finish and then hand-delivered to President Barack Obama.
James explained that the bound edition of the presidential papers are unique not just in their recipient but in the materials used to make them. “The leather that we get, we do not bind any other book in that leather,” he said. “It’s strictly Obama … we’re not allowed to use it for anything else.”
As lawmakers and others press forward with calls to make the GPO paperless, GPO Public Printer William Boarman said that centuries-old skills such as those practiced by James are even more appreciated.
“There’s a real art and craft in bookbinding,” Boarman explained. “The GPO is unique in what we do.”
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