I have a bad habit of going into stores for a "quick look" and getting sucked in by the gorgeous books! This time, it was the Crane & Co. store at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta.
I love Crane's, but I simply can't afford their stuff. I go in for ideas, since I can do most of what I like cheaper—if I ever get around to it. Some of them, especially those by Molly West, were quite elegant and beautiful, with gorgeous, luxuriant fabrics and wonderful papers. The tag says these are made by "master bookbinders," in California, I think. They ranged in price from $60 to $120. (How do I get THAT job? I can't imagine being able to sell one of my books for that price!)
A few of the Molly West books had a bit of a twist on the usual bindings. The guest book, for instance, used a thick cord to bind a single thick signature of heavy, creamy paper using a three hole pamphlet stitch. The cord was twined around the stitches on the outside, creating a nice texture and adding visual interest.
There were also some (less expensive) books by Maude Asbury. They were much more contemporary, with more of a "mass appeal." The materials, though, were very appealing and of a nice quality. They are also listed as "handmade," though the term can mean many things in the mass market! They appeared well-made, though not to the same standard as the Molly West books.
Another line of books (the name escapes me) was made of some really beautifal Nepalese paper. The bindings incorporated lots of natural elements, like strips of bamboo. The string tie books used a really cool button: a slice from stick, shaped, smoothed, and carved. And just as important, the paper was fair trade, so the papermakers didn't get exploited (too much!)
I must note that Crane's "standard" (still rather expensive) wedding guest books were quite disappointing. The endsheets were so thin! There was a lot of "show through" from the binding boards, and the cover material was very obvious around the edges inside the covers. NOT impressive—my old book arts professor would be appalled!
I guess the lesson from this is that you never know what you will find in stores, or what they will sell for. (You also never know what kind of shortcuts people will accept!)