Let's dive into bookbinding & erotica

At 8d Press we’re fascinated by sensory writing, and erotica comes under that banner. So now we’ve released our periodical series called the ‘little.black.books’ with erotic stories by up-and-coming women writers from around the world, we want to broaden the conversation a little bit and talk to a very interested young man who’s also in the erotica ‘game’.

Gordon from Black Club Books, is a craftsman bookbinder from Northumberland, who’s passion for erotica matches ours. Here's the transcript of a litle chat with him which might interest all artisan and erotic print book lovers. #erotica #bookbinding #eroticliterature #europeaneroticliterature #booksofinstagram

Tell us about your bookbinding, how did you start, how did you learn your trade, what prompted this passion?

I have been collecting and reading books for many years; mainly science fiction and fantasy. For years the only fantasy author I would read was Terry Pratchett. I have almost all his books in hardback, some first editions and a signed one.

My tastes have broadened though. A few years back, maybe four years ago, I was in one of the bookshops in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, and there was a flyer on the door for a Bookbinding Evening Class. So I decided to go along and try the six-week starter sessions, and haven’t stopped since.

My tutor is Mark Ramsden. I still go to his classes, currently in Chirnside on a Friday morning, and have occasional private tuition for gold tooling and more specialised training.

I have my own business Black Club Books, where I sell books that I have bound, but mainly I make notebooks and photo albums for family weddings. I have to make a distinction when buying a book, between the idea that this book will be for sale again, versus the idea that this book is for my library.

I am a member of the Society of Bookbinders, but also the Private Libraries Association, Newcastle’s Lit and Phill, the HP Lovecraft Historical Society.

What materials do you use?

Mostly traditional bookbinding materials, which are not vegan friendly! So leather, cloth, board, paper, thread. No animal glues though, modern PVA works much better, and smells a lot less.

What prompted your interest in erotica?

I used to collect playing cards, some of which were erotic in nature. Some more explicit than others. I got a set of Sylvie Jones and Monica Guevara’s playing cards by the now defunct Erotic Print Society, which led me to their other works of art, and the illustrations they did for various erotic books.

This led me to other works and artists, like Lynn Paula Russel and Tom Sargeant, and the various classic works of erotica, from the Decameron and Sonetti Lussuriosi all the way to recently published work like your series the little.black.books.

As long as it is well written, I'll be interested in it. The mass-market 50 Shades type of rubbish is not worthy of the genre. And while I do have some pulp on the shelves like Hot Nurses Nympho Sister, that is mainly because it comes in job lots of erotica pulp fiction.

I had considered turning the 50 Shades series into a hollow fake book, like in the Shawshank Redemption. This led to further explorations into Dita Von Teese and Burlesque, to caberet clubs, photography by Tigz Rice and Steve Diet Goode, erotic comics and Tiquana Bibles, erotic bookplates, classic authors who have written erotica or artists who have illustrated it (Ronald Dahl, Alan Bennett, D H Lawrence, etc)

The website Honest Erotica https://honesterotica.com/ is a good resource for research. All that being said, I have had an interest in the female form since being a teenage boy.

What is the most interesting piece of erotica in your possession? Tough question! I like the Scarlet Library series by the Erotic Print Society, as they are classic works which I started collecting because of the artist involved. But also like my small collection of flip books, some modern, some older, as they are a bit out of the ordinary.

The Alan Bennett book Smut, because the final few lines of the first story always make me laugh. However, I think the Les Amours Limited Edition I got from Southeran’s is the most interesting. Its the one I have paid the most for, but it needs to be bound into a book, as it is just a loose portfolio. I just don’t think I have the skills to do it, and might never!

Tell me a little about yourself.

I'm degree level educated, an ex Naval Officer now working in private healthcare to pay the bills, as I doubt books and bookbinding will pay the mortgage. I live in the Secret Kingdom of Northumberland. I started by Black Club Books, a few years ago. It was named after the Ace of Clubs, and was set up to try and justify my expenditure on bookbinding equipment and books generally. It hasn’t worked!!

I work hard in health care, but in my free time, I love doing restoration work on books, making custom boxes and slip cases for special editions, and trying to sell the bound books.


All photos are copyright: Gordon Taylor