Samuel Feinstein is a private practice bookbinder specializing in fine bindings, gold finishing, rounded spine clamshell boxes, and new bindings in period style. He lives and works in Chicago, and you can see his current work here.
Samuel says, "I was a student at University of Wisconsin studying Latin, Greek and English Literature when I was hit by a minivan on my bike on the way to school. I broke my right wrist and suffered a severe head injury that causes "post-traumatic headaches" and constant pain. I dropped out of school and couldn't work. I learned that instead of trying to work with my head, I should work with my hands. I needed to find something practical that I could do so that I can make a living.
The NBSS program includes training in many types of bindings and styles, as well as repair and conservation work. The training provides a solid foundation and allows each student to work in greater depth in the areas that are most pertinent to their interests.
The biggest obstacle was not knowing if my injury would allow me to work productively in the environment and if I'd be able to have the dedication necessary to excel in the program. It's a struggle each day, but I'm getting through it and I am very proud of the work that I do."
In an interview with Dmitri Koutsipetsidis, on his site Dmitri's Bookbinding Corner, Samuel talked about his experience at NBSS. He said:
"As far as I know, the US does not have any bookbinding programs like NBSS. There are book arts programs that cover many aspect of bookmaking; there are book arts centers, schools, and institutions where workshops bookbinding are offered, as well as private lessons with established binders, but none of these are multiple year programs, bench-oriented, and focused on craft the way NBSS is. You start off learning paper grain and folding sections, and you end up having made a great number of structures, variations on those structures, many kinds of repair and conservation techniques and treatments, fine bindings, historical structures, and develop a broad range of traditional bookbinding skills which can be applied in whichever way you decide to utilize your hand skills.
Graduates from the school have found work in conservation labs as technicians and conservators, in private practice doing repair and conservation work, fine bookbinding, edition work, make artist books, and some teach in addition to doing these. I attended the program from 2010 to 2012. Some of my most nostalgic memories are the moments where the room, noises, and people all drift away and I'm left there with the only things in existence: me, my tool, and the book that I'm tooling. It was a rather often occurrence.
As far as I know, the US does not have any bookbinding programs like NBSS. There are book arts programs that cover many aspect of bookmaking... but none of these are multiple year programs, bench-oriented, and focused on craft the way NBSS is.
As a stepping stone, here in the US, NBSS has a reputation for training highly skilled bookbinders, and I used that as much as I possibly could, networking within the bookbinding field, getting to know as many people as I could. I spent a fair amount of time in the school's library poring through exhibition catalogs, articles, and so on so that when I was introduced to someone new, there was a fairly good chance that I had heard of them before. I would go to as many events as possible, doing as much as I could to become familiar with people who might eventually become clients.
As well, NBSS offers a small business class for students in the final year of their program. This was extremely beneficial for me, since I began my private practice after graduating, and it's very important to have a good idea of the business side of things when you want to make bookbinding your career."