Until recently the art of bookbinding was the domain of conservationists and bibliophiles who relished the beauty and permanence of a finely bound book and were willing to pay an experienced bookbinder for this pleasure. Now a growing number of amateurs are entering the craft, spending their evenings learning the fundamentals of bookbinding at the Smithsonian or county education classes. Their satisfaction is in the tangible results of their handiwork as well as the considerable savings they see from the less costly input of their own labor (an expert binder can charge hundreds of dollars for binding a single book). Catering to this surge of interest in bookbinding is Bookmakers, a shop that specializes in supplies for binding books by hand. The store sells basic binding tools, all sorts of coverings for the bindings (like the common library-quality buckram, several kinds of leather, goat parchment and marblesized paper), and high-quality paper for repairing and reconstructing damaged pages. Most papers and leathers sold here are acid-resistant, thus reducing the rapid yellowing and brittling of pages and bindings that is the curse of a good book. The basic kit costs around $30.

Bookmakers. 2025 I St. NW. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 296-6613.