Octavia Book Binding is proving this ancient art form is still going strong in the digital age

Hidden in a corner of downtown Calgary, the Octavia Book Bindery sits covered in remnants of words, leather and cloth – as any book company should.

However, this is no ordinary book company. Here book binders and their apprentices spend hours restoring, creating and selling books the old way. No machines work here, just passionate people.

Robert Angus, bookbinder and owner of Octavia Book Bindery, started when he was just a kid.

“I wasn’t allowed comic books, I don’t know if it was because it was expensive or if my parents thought it was satanic,” remembers Angus. “So I made my own, I drew my own, I photocopied them at the school and sold them to all my friends at 25 cents apiece.”

This opened the door to him getting into the publishing business, which he did when he was in college. This path eventually led to him working at Octavia Book Bindery.

Many people believe that bookbinding has become obsolete, however Angus thinks otherwise; it’s not merely a craft, but an art form.

“I’m designing stuff for clients, I’m doing things that doesn’t necessarily fit with a period style and yet draws upon period things. Some people would say ‘well you’re a trade binder,’ but no because trade binderies are full of mechanized equipment,” explains Angus.

“Am I an artist? I make too much money to be an artist. If I was an artist I think I would probably just be happy being at home being creative in the evenings, and serving coffee the rest of the day.”


The editor resposible for this artice is Stefan Strangman, sstrangman@cjournal.ca

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