It's not an everyday occurrence that you come across a bookbinder, let alone a millennial in Egypt taking up the craft and turning it into a thriving startup. 'Binded' is Egypt's latest bookbinding business and it's damn beautiful.
Books have been a life-long love for millions of people on this planet. There is something about holding the physical knowledge and the endless tales in your hands that takes you to another world where you, the author, and the characters in the book are the only beings that ever existed, feeding off one another's emotions and experiences. The feeling is unmatched. But what is significant here is that all of this was documented on paper in handwriting and then bound together with thread. It is the book binding process that made these pieces of paper able to reach the hands of readers - or scribblers if you had a notebook! Of course this caught on and bookbinding novels, notebooks, and other book forms became a thriving industry.
But the 21st century happened and these books have mostly become available online and publishers no longer feel the need to make hundreds of thousands of copies or more like they used to. And as technology progressed over the years, these books were no longer being made by hand like they once used to. Heavy machinery is now used to print and bind the books together. Even binding notebooks became automated. So what happened to the bookbinders? Did a once thriving industry just disappear? Did you even know such people even existed? Well Mahitab Diaa is the 21st century's and one of the few people in Egypt to even consider reviving the ancient tradition in the form of notebooks, and her work will blow your mind. With an innate desire to become an entrepreneur in multiple fields, Diaa kicked off her startup 'Binded' on Facebook about a year ago, despite being locked into a full time job as a video editor. The local brand specialises in fully customisable notebooks, handmade to every last detail by Diaa herself. "Typically, one notebook will take me 3-4 days to complete, but because of my full time job, sometimes this becomes a challenge," Diaa tells us.From sketching the design, to painting and scanning it, all the way to printing the designs and binding the book together with nothing but a needle and thread, Diaa is a one-woman shown. "One time, I had a request to make 27 notebooks as a gift to 27 bridesmaids. My fingertips became so tender from all the binding that they started to bleed" recounts Diaa in bewilderment.
You'd think people would appreciate how Diaa toils diligently and how much effort she puts into every piece. You'd be mistaken. "One time, this man grabbed one of my notebooks and said that he could make something much better in 5 seconds! He pretended he knew how much hard work went into this. It was so upsetting!” She says.But for our local bookbinder, the joy of the finished product and the idea of bringing back an antiquated tradition outweigh the hard work, blood, and pain (literally) that goes into it. "I took bookbinding workshops while I was in university and I fell in love," tells a nostalgic Diaa. "It's a dying art and so I knew it was the perfect one to revive."
"Ideally, I'd like to expand my business. I have a vision to bring more people on board with me and make more products by hand like coasters, cards, and even stationary," says Diaa about the future of Binded. Diaa also hopes to adopt new techniques of bookbinding and experiment with different textures and styles.To get a book made by Diaa, all you need to do is message her through her Facebook page or send her an email with your design and she'll make it happen. We mean like you can ask for Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball with lyrics from the song, and you’ll get exactly that. You can also utilise Diaa’s creative artistic abilities and get her to design something for you.What makes Binded so unique is its ability to not only handcraft notebooks, but also it is bookbinding with a contemporary twist that stays up to date with the trends and demands of this very hipster generation. Who knew that such an old craft could be brought back so beautifully?