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The first event I attended with the Standards of Excellence Seminar in Hand Bookbinding (aka Standards), the annual Guild of Book Workers conference, it was in my home town of Minneapolis. I had recently become obsessed with book arts, so I joined the Guild and signed up for a trip down memory lane at the Hyatt Regency, where I had waited tables at the Italian restaurant in the 1980s.

When I started bookbinding, I was working for an education startup called PilotCity, which was bringing tools—such as laser cutters, 3-D printers, virtual reality, IoT (internet of things)—and business that created with these high technology tools, to underserved middle and high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had recently stumbled upon the wide world of bookbinding and printing during a weekend course at the San Francisco Center for the Book. We made a tunnel book with copper tape, a coin cell battery, and a tiny light bulb. As I’ve said many many times, “When I set foot in SFCB, I felt like an alien returning to the mother ship.”

The feeling was similar when I stepped into the Vendor Room at my first Standards in Minneapolis (my home town) in 2018. Brien Beidler and Jim Croft were laughing and generally enjoying the camaraderie of their friends. I did not witness any hard sells. My colleague from the Hand Bookbinders of California (HBC), Juliayn Coleman, snapped an photograph of me after I purchased a moose antler bone folder.

More than one person said that I should speak to Shanna Leino when I expressed my newfound infatuation with bookbinding tools. The first thing to catch my eye at her table was a freakishly long pair of scissors. I introduced myself, and Shanna graciously showed me what few items she had left. Two years later, I was deeply immersed in the world of all things bookish, and invited Shanna to speak at a series that I hosted for HBC during the COVID-19 pandemic called Zoom Tool Talks. My passion for the tools outweighs my skills.

I am co-editing the bimonthly Newsletter for the Guild of Book Workers, and have interviewed Shanna Leino about her pathway into and through the wide world of books. It is an honor to work with the Guild and find my way toward vendibility—as a publisher, editor, book artist, writer, or some combination thereof.

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