Job Description:

Bookbinders turn printed paper into books and catalogues by hand or using machines.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will do:

You could:

  • set up and feed paper into machines
  • glue and stitch using hand operated machines
  • cut paper to size using hand and machine cutting tools
  • check the quality of work and meet production deadlines
  • identify issues and report machine breakdowns
  • take away and stack finished products

If you’re a craft or hand bookbinder, you might:

  • use hand tools to make bindings for books and to sew pages
  • use traditional materials to add decoration and clean discoloured pages
  • produce specialist books like family histories or books for libraries and museums
  • repair antique books


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Bookbinder, you don’t typically need specific qualifications. However, certain subjects and skills can be helpful in preparing for a career in bookbinding, especially if you plan to pursue formal education or apprenticeships in this field. Here are some subjects that can be beneficial:

  1. Art and Design: Courses in art and design can help you develop artistic skills, an eye for detail, and an understanding of aesthetics, which are important in bookbinding.
  2. Craft and Design (Optional): Courses in craft and design can provide hands-on experience with materials and techniques relevant to bookbinding.
  3. Mathematics (Optional): Basic math skills can be useful for measurements and calculations when working with bookbinding materials.
  4. English (Optional): Strong written and verbal communication skills can be valuable, especially if you plan to work on bookbinding projects that involve textual content.
  5. History (Optional): Learning about the history of books and bookbinding can provide context and appreciation for the craft.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist training courses


You could do a foundation degree or degree in:

  • design crafts
  • printmaking
  • art conservation and restoration

You’ll need to check that the course covers methods used in bookbinding.


You can do a bookbinder or print operative intermediate apprenticeship or a print technician advanced apprenticeship.


You could start out as a print room or reprographics assistant and work your way up through experience and taking courses.

Direct Application

You could apply directly to become a bookbinder. Employers will expect you to have some printing experience.

Other Routes

You could take short specialist courses in craft binding and finishing.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 41-43 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends on shifts.

You could work in a factory or in a workshop. Your working environment may be dusty and noisy. You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a supervisor or work for a specialist print finishing company.

You could also move into other jobs like printing or sales.