What do you believe is the best quality leather out there?

I can’t answer that question easily except to say that the best leather out there is the leather that’s right for you. But I know, that was not the question. The best quality leather is leather that comes from a healthy animal, and has been tanned and processed properly.

Let me just mention some of the good/bad things I have found in each of the leathers we have used in binding softcover Bibles.



  • Good: Great durability; readily available in lighter weights; comes in natural or pressed grains; does not easily scuff.
  • Bad: The natural grain has pores which bother some people; tends to be a little stiff with a pressed grain; natural, unfinished hides usually have a lot of scars. (Pigs are kind of rough on their bodies.)





  • Good: Good durability; tools well; finishes nicely; especially suited for antique finish; large hides are the norm.
  • Bad: Hard to find in lighter weights; hard to find in a grain and temper suitable for bookbinding since most calf is processed for upholstery use.





  • Good: Great durability; good natural grain; soft to the touch.
  • Bad: Somewhat elastic; a little on the heavy side for bookbinding and harder to skive or pare edges.





  • Good: Good durability; natural wild grain or grained are both available; naturally lightweight.
  • Bad: Expensive, small hides; mostly tanned outside of the U.S.





  • Good: Good durability in the right weight with quality hides; naturally lightweight; very soft; available in some pressed patterns and natural rustic look.
  • Bad: Somewhat elastic; occasional poor layer adhesion requires extra caution when selecting hides; a little spongy and does not take foil imprinting well; scuffs and soils easily, though not a problem a dark skin with rustic look.





  • Good: Good durability with the right weight; naturally light weight; imprints well.
  • Bad: Somewhat elastic.





  • Good: Great durability; finishes beautifully using antiqued finishes; naturally lightweight; tools great; imprints great.
  • Bad: Tends to scuff and dent easily. (Don’t use it as a surface for writing a check.)





  • Good: Great durability, naturally lightweight, soft (except for the bumps).
  • Bad: Expensive; not readily available; often confused with common ostrich grained pig or calfskins (no real comparison); natural pimples make imprinting difficult if not impossible.





  • Good: Good durability; good grain; imprints well.
  • Bad: Usually not available in light weight; a little stiff.



Why is there such a difference in the prices bookbinders and book restorers charge for their services?

Easily answered — regional economy, personal economy, experience in the field, name recognition, services offered, and other factors that affect a free market system. These apply to every trade and product.

My own question:
How do you know when someone’s work is overpriced?

When they don’t have any customers. 🙂