ABCs of Making Miniature Books

ABCs of Making Miniature Books

This is the third post in my series of Japanese bookbinding book reviews. This book is one of two that I’ll be reviewing by Miyako Akai.

Title: ABCs of Making Miniature Books
Author: Miyako Akai
ISBN: 430927143X
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Year published: 2009
Paperback: 95 pages

Akai came to book arts through writing. While studying architecture, she wrote her own novels. In 2001, she started making books. Her writing transitioned from novels to short stories and her books became smaller – this was what led to her current focus on miniature books.

Akai has been a member of Miniature Book Society since 2007. That same year, she won the Distinguished Book Award for Dancing on the Cloud. You can see an image of the book in the 2007 MBS Exhibition Catalog.

To learn more about Akai, you can visit her website. She has miniature books available for purchase. If you click on one of the images, you’ll be brought to a page with more photos, book details, and process photos (these are really great).

Like the other books I’ve reviewed thus far, this book reads left-to-right. I usually take off the book jackets when I scan pages and discovered that the inside book cover was just as cool:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books

Pages 8-11 cover things such as the parts of a book, basic bookbinding tools, spacing text, and paper grain.

Pages 12-85 focus on 10 miniature book projects. The images that follow (click to enlarge) show the progression of content for each project.

Each section starts with an image of a book:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 28

Page 28

The next page seems to identify some of the creative and/or structural elements:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 29

Page 29

The following pages show you how to create the book through photos and diagrams:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 30

Page 30

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 31

Page 31

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 32

Page 32

At the end of each section are images of variations on the binding.

ABCs of Making Miniature Books - Page 33

Page 33

Pages 90-93 include images of the author’s own work. Pages 94-95 are an index of the book contents.

Overall impressions:

This book is my favorite out of the ones I purchased. I like the way it’s organized, in that the image of a handmade book is in the same section as the project directions. I think that the flow of each section is great – you see the project, execute it, then see what you can do next – it inspires you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own work.

There is a range of skill level involved in the projects and there’s something for everyone – from simple accordion folds to sewing over cords, headbands to gold tooling. There are even directions for making a miniature hinged box. As you move through the projects, they increase in difficulty. The instructional images are fabulous and there are lots of them. It’s really easy to follow along with the process.

As with the other books I’ve reviewed, specific project measurements in millimeters. You can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents. Beginners could easily complete a few of the projects in the book. Unfortunately, once you move into the sewn bindings, it would likely prove difficult to continue – you need some sewing experience to take best advantage of the book.

The featured handmade books are so adorable. I know that sounds girly, but seriously – I want to hug them. This book gave me what I was craving – fresh inspiration. This is the first book I’ve “read” that has gotten me revved up about miniature books.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

5 Responses to “ABCs of Making Miniature Books

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elissa Campbell and Rosaland Hannibal, Bertil Kjellberg. Bertil Kjellberg said: RT @blueroofdesigns Posted my 3rd Japanese bookbinding book review "ABCs of Making Miniature Books". < Fascinating! […]

By Cathy - 17 October 2010 Reply

This book really sounds fun! I love making miniature books, so I’ll have to see if I can find it the next time I can coordinate a trip to Kinokuniya in NYC.

By Elissa - 22 October 2010 Reply

Cathy –

I bought my first Japanese bookbinding book in a Kinokuniya in San Francisco. The next time I go to NYC I am so heading over there. You’ll have to report back on the selection of books you see.


By buechertiger - 18 October 2010 Reply

This looks good! – I am tempted… Thank you for presenting your finds so comprehensively!

By Elissa - 22 October 2010 Reply

Hilke –

This one really is my favorite. If you’re going to be tempted, you picked the right book. If you have any specific questions about it, let me know. I can scan some more pages…


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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