Dutybound Bookbinder

by Insiders Dunedin

With the rise of the digital world, many consume content online through their laptop or mobile devices. The book or printed medium seems to be a bit of a thing of the past. Although this seems to be a continuing trend, David Stedman has a passion for the preservation of books and keeping the bookbinding craft alive here in Dunedin. 

David was born and raised in Dunedin, and has been bookbinding for the past 30 years. He comes from a family with a background in the printing industry and after leaving school took an apprenticeship as a bookbinder at John McIndoe. Fast forward a few years, and it just so happens the building where he completed his apprenticeship is the building where he now runs Dutybound BOOKBINDING. 

Before opening his business ten years ago late last year, David spent 14 years working at the Dunedin City Library in their bindery. Here he gained MANY OF the rare skills and experience involved in the process that he practices today. 

Bookbinding is a craft that is not practiced by many and even harder to learn. The city is lucky to have someone with the talent, experience, and equipment David has. In particular, the services he offers that include bookbinding, restoration of books and print related materials and even some leather embossing and foiling. 

It only takes one visit to David's premise on Crawford Street to get a true appreciation for the craft he practices. On entering the building, it is like stepping back in time where everything was mechanical. The machinery and tools he has accumulated over the years are incredible, some even date back 100 years and are still in great working order. 

Watching David work is like watching an artist paint on a canvas. The work is delicate and time-consuming. It requires patience and confidence considering a lot of his work involves material that is irreplaceable. In other words, there is no room for mistakes. Especially when dealing with projects that not only have historical value but sentimental / personal attachments. 

Although I mentioned earlier that it seems to be a craft that is dying, David mentioned that he is not struggling to find work. In fact, it is quite the opposite. David has more than enough work to keep himself going and at times could really do with some extra help to handle his workload. Unfortunately for David it is work that you can't just get anyone's help.  As mentioned earlier the work requires years of training and experience that is hard to find, especially around Dunedin. 
Despite this, David still manages to provide quality work that is in high demand. A lot of his work revolves around doing small run publishing made possible by his 50-year-old book sewing machine. As well as working on bespoke projects where clients wanted to offer a point of difference or create something that is considered to be highly valued. 

When time is available, David carries out a lot of book repairs and restorations. He also likes the time to express his creative side. David has a collection of incredible hand-made journals, photograph albums and notepads he has created and sells in the small dedicated shop area, open to the public. Another product David has been working on and is fast becoming one of his most popular services/products are book conservation boxes. They are custom made boxes for precious and valuable items that help preserve and protect them.

If you are interested in the craft or machinery involved in bookbinding, I highly recommend going to visit the Dutybound BOOKBINDING on Crawford Street. If you have a special book that needs to be repaired, David is the one to go see. Although he is busy, he is always interested in discussing how he can help. Better yet, if you are looking to do something different, unique or special for your next publication or printed material, David is a wealth of knowledge, skill and has the tools to help. 

Visit the Dutybound BOOKBINDING at 57 Crawford Street or give David a call on  (03) 477 7224


Post submitted by Joshua Jeffery


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