There are many types of leather you can use in book binding, some common and some a bit more unique and special. We enjoy working with many types of leather and would be happy to help you in making a decision on what to use.
Generally the most common leathers include:
Goat Skin – we use a nice Moroccan grain goatskin which makes an excellent, durable leather for books. We especially recommend using goat with textured paper when doing half or quarter leather covers since the grain complements such designs.
Kangaroo Skin – Due to import limitations this leather is more difficult to obtain but we currently maintain a small stock of various colors since it is such a great leather for bookbinding. Kangaroo skin is thin yet durable, with little-to-no grain. I like to pair kangaroo with smooth papers when binding half or quarter leather covers.
Calf Skin – Considered a luxurious material, calf skin has a wonderful feel to it which makes for great books. The skin a bit thicker than goat or kangaroo so needs a little more labor to prepare but the results are worth it. Like kangaroo leather there is little to no grain on calf skins but sometimes we can find a skin with an embossed grain if that is what you want. We like to use on books with a more antique nature to them.
Sheepskin – a more economical alternative to calf leather with a great feel. Not as durable as calf, but still commonly used for books.
Bonded leather – an economical alternative to using full leather hides. Made from at least 75% genuine leather, it is made to look, feel, and smell like fine leather.
Imitation leather – for those on a budget or who do not like the idea of using animal byproducts we can use good quality imitation leather for many applications without sacrificing appearances.
Specialty leathers include:
Alum Tawed leather – an absolutely stunning (but expensive) white leather made from specially treated skins – usually pig, calf, or goat. Great for antique books.
Toad Skin – we were exited to find a supplier of toad skin leather. The skins are small and make excellent covers to small journals or address books. Due to the lumps and variations in thickness it works best on covers and not over the spine section.
Stingray – Also referred to as shagreena, stingray has a very unique texture which feels more like some alien plastic than skin. Ray skins are very durable and make for interesting covers or cover ornamentation. Due to the texture of ray skin it works best on covers and not over the spine section.
Have a preference for another type of leather? Let us know and we will be happy to assist you.