Lowcountry man makes books by hand

By Stefanie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Brien Beidler's hands tell a story all on their own. At the young age of 23, Beidler's hands not only tell a story; they make stories.

"I build books by hand," Brien Beidler said. "The books I make - every section is hand-sewn and the covers are built to a certain size to a text block."

He's called a book binder, a rare craft where concentration and precision are crucial.

"I think that's what separates it from other crafts is that a lot of time you have art that is meant to hang on a wall or stay in a case. The beauty of books is that not only can it be beautiful, but you can grab it and use it, and that's what I love about it-- it's so tangible," Beidler said.

Beidler's bindery workshop is located at the basement of the oldest library in the South-- the Charleston Library Society on King Street. Beidler said he believes not every book should be bound, but you can always tell when one is.

"When you go and buy a book from the store, for instance, you read it once or twice and pages are falling out. You kind of think back and see how books that are 200-years-old are better than books that are 10-years-old," Beidler said.

From cutting to sewing to gluing and hammering, Beidler said making books is a job he always dreamed of.

"Why do I like to bind them? I'm honestly not sure. It's something that just caught my fancy at a young age," Beidler said. "I kept it secret but now I have a means of letting it out."

At the Charleston Library Society, Beidler passes on this rare craft in tutoring interns and by teaching a summer camp for kids.

If you have an old book that needs repair or are interested in the summer camp series that teaches kids book binding, you can visit the Charleston Library Society at 164 King Street or by calling (843)723-9912.

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