Momento Musings

Meet our bookbinder Marty: 20 years strong

Next month Martin Penny has been binding books for 20 years, which means about half a million books have passed through his hands! We’re proud to say that for ten of those years he’s been running our bindery at Momento, and he still treats every book like it’s the most important book on the planet. Here’s Marty’s story …

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I got into this business 20 years ago. I married into it. My German father-in-law was a book binder for 45 years and he taught me everything I know. I love to bind books because I love making things with my own hands.

I ran my own bindery for a decade and Momento was my client for many years. When they set up their own photo book facility in 2008, they asked me to join the team, so I came on board to run their state-of-the-art bindery.

Before I started binding photo books most of my work was thesis binding and while we always produced beautiful work, Momento ramped up the quality even more. We use the best board, the best reinforcement cloth, and linens and leathers from Europe.

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I love how the pages are printed on the latest digital printers but we still use old school binding techniques to put them together.

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The most important thing is that every book is stitched – not just glued.  Most are stitched using the Super Sewer but if they’re really thick, we have to stitch them by hand.

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There’s so much that goes into the binding of a book, to get it looking and feeling perfect. You’ve got to use paper with the correct grain so it bends in the right direction and sits flat, the folds have to be sharp, and everything has to line up seamlessly.

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A lot of people like to add embossing to the cover, and getting a clean crisp impression is an art in itself. Every material needs different heat, time and pressure to get it looking just right.

Sometimes the work is detailed but at the end of the day you can see the difference.

We’ve got a great new bindery here in Zetland, Sydney, and most of my binders have been working with me for eight years now. Although we’ve all bound hundreds and thousands of books, we still genuinely care about every book, album or box we bind.

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I just hope people realise that it’s real human beings, not machines, who make their Momento books. If I’m not happy with a book there is no way it’s going out the door!

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To see Marty in action view the video below.

11 comments

  1. Michelle Ward

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is invaluable to know how my books are made and I really appreciate the human touch, for sure.

  2. Dennis Howell

    My wife, Aroha, is the photographer, and sweats over our travel photos with Photoshop. She is meticulous in looking at colour balance as well as composition, and we treasure each book you make. This article and video have added to my appreciation of your contribution. Thank you to all the team, and especially to Marty.
    Dennis

  3. Mary

    Actually watched you in action today on the tour ..Very impressed with the care taken in all aspects of making the books,Now busy planning my next books Thanks

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