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The Book Bindery
(c) Microcosm Publishing

The Book Bindery

A compendium of stories that poured out of a year spent working in a Chicago book bindery, this collection was first a zine and then -- as self-published production couldn't keep up with demand -- a book that seemed to delight everyone else who had every worked a shit job. These stories attempt a Pollyanna spin to try to find the good in this zany place.


"Continues in the long tradition of the irritable labor zine, with its laugh-out-loud tales of mischief, slacking off, stealing time, and sneaky insubordination"

- Razorcake #62

"a very loving memorial to a pretty insane place"

- Nathaniel on goodreads

"that [this zine] conveys more thrill than drudge in describing her work days makes this an awesome read"

- Rocktober Reviews

"Sarah goes into a shitty job at a bookbindery in a new town Chicago and tells us the tale. Then she quits. What is she doing now? That's what I want to know."

- Craven on goodreads



I was assigned to the copy area of the bookbinders, where we print the page of the books. Books are exciting. Books are what led me to apply to this position in the first place. These books we make… are not books. They’re compendiums of company mergers and deal closures. Boring law stuff. Dollars and nonsense. It’s all garbage that rich people spend their days arranging. Reading the ridiculous year-end bonus amounts some CEOs receive or laughing at the company Morrison-Forrester’s innocent ‘MoFo’ abbreviation was about as exciting as it got.

I made the job legit right away by bitching about it. “My brain isn’t stimulated enough.” Well, no shit, you fucker, it’s 10 bucks an hour to make copies. It’s a glorified Kinkos, except without the homeless interaction or cash register. I stood over the copiers and nearly passed out in the heat and ozone they emitted, as the copy light scanned across my face, a la Fight Club. “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” The fact that I could see those minutes clicking by on the printer counter made that hit home pretty hard.

I had to climb out of this repetitive rut, but before I realized how entertaining my co-workers were, I slowly learned how to entertain myself. I wore sweaty little rubber caps on my fingertips, and I cracked myself up at least three times a day by quoting Strangers With Candy lines like, ‘When’s quittin’ time, chief?’, as I pushed the big green circle to print the next set. I roamed around the shop and perused the heavy-duty machinery and equipment that resembled medieval torture devices.

If something is shit, you’ll probably have some good stories under your belt from what you went through, and hopefully that possibility can be enough to help you through it. “How’s the bookbinding?” asked my friend Kate, who loves stories more than most things. “Not bad,” said I, “It’s quite a story to tell, I’ll tell you that.”

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