Another victim of the pandemic. The social and educational society formerly called The Bookbinders Guild of New York, latterly Book Industry Guild of New York, has decided shut down. For a group based upon the idea of like-minded people getting together after work for a drink and a discussion, the pandemic has obviously presented a gigantic problem.

It seems just recently that the monthly meetings used to involve a sit-down dinner, but costs inevitably became a problem and for the last couple of decades the talks have been preceded by a cocktail hour only.

I was on the committee for a number of years and participated in the name change which I heartily agreed was necessary to reflect the wider interests of the group than had been the case when a bunch of book manufacturing employees set it up in 1925. When the group was still named Bookbinders Guild, prior to 2010, we used now and then to receive enquiries from people looking to get advice on the rebinding of their family bible, or some other binding issue. Back in the early years of the last century New York City was a huge printing center (see for example my post about H. Wolff). But by the time I hit town, in the mid seventies, that was all a relic of the past. Obviously an organization of book-bindery employees anxious to improve their knowledge of their business has wildly different aims and requirements from one serving book manufacturing employees in publishing companies and the sales representatives who’d call on them. As gradually publishing diversified out of town, an organization for just book manufacturing workers became less and less viable. Allied to the name change thus was a policy of making monthly meetings more about general publishing topics and less directly production directed, in the hope of attracting a wider range of publishing staff. To the extent that many attendees were accustomed to having their tickets bought for them by some sales representative or other, this was a slow process.

As Karen Romano’s letter tells us there is a newish organization, The New York Book Forum, which stands ready to take over the talking shop aspect of BIGNY while at the same time extending the outreach even further. NYBF has already taken over responsibility for the organization of the annual New York Book Show, an exhibition of books focused on their physical attributes rather than their content. NYBF is “born digital” and will face at some point the opposite problem from BIGNY’s when they consider how to become live.