Meet our bookbinder Marty: 20 years strong

Bookbinding became a popular arts practice in the mid 15th century when the printing press was invented, and Germany was home to the best craftsmen. Our binder Marty, was trained by his German father-in-law and has now been binding for 20 years.

Next month Martin Penny has been binding books for 20 years, which means about half a million books have passed through his hands! We’re proud to say that for ten of those years he’s been running our bindery at Momento Pro, and he still treats every book like it’s the most important book on the planet. Here’s Marty’s story …


“I ran my own bindery for ten years and Momento was my client for many years. When they set up their own photo book production facility in 2008, they asked me to join the team, so I came on board to run their state-of-the-art bindery.

I got into this business 20 years ago. I married into it. My German father-in-law was a book binder for 45 years and he taught me everything I know. I love to bookbind because I love making things with my own hands.

Before I started binding photo books most of my work was thesis binding and while we always produced beautiful work, Momento ramped up the quality even more.

We only use the best materials. The best book board, glue, reinforcement cloth. Our linens come from Germany, leathers from Italy, but I’m a fan of library buckram that binders have used for centuries.

I think it’s great how the book pages are printed with the latest digital print technology but we still use old-school binding techniques to put them together.

And the most important thing is that every book is stitched – not just glued.


Most are stitched using the Super Sewer but if they’re really thick, we have to stitch them by hand.

Depending on the paper and binding style you choose, some pages sit flatter than others. With section sewing you fold the book into blocks of eight pages. Each section is then stitched and bound together so the pages sit nice and flush, with a shallow gutter.

This is how trade books are made, so it’s the best option for self publishers, and for portrait orientation books, because the pages don’t have as much weight to flatten naturally.


A lot of books require embossing on the cover, and getting a clean crisp impression is an art in itself. Every material, and every design needs different heat, time and pressure to get it looking just right.

Sometimes the work is detailed but at the end of the day you can see the difference.

In the last few years we’ve also started producing Flush Mount Albums for wedding and portrait photographers. I love to bind books but these are amazing. They involve a new binding technique and new equipment that creates a perfectly flat gutter.

It’s also a different printing process. I didn’t realise the different levels of print quality you could get but these albums are inkjet printed and it’s stunning.


We’ve got a great new bindery here in Zetland, Sydney, and most of my binders have been working with me for eight years now. Although we’ve all bound hundreds and thousands of books, we still genuinely care about every book, album or box we bind.

I just hope people realise that it’s real human beings, not machines, who make their Momento books.  If I’m not happy with a book there is no way that thing is going out the door!

To see Marty in action view the video below.



About the author Momento Photobooks

Co-founder + Marketing Manager of Momento, creators of premium photo books + custom stationery. A 100% Australian owned + made company dedicated to helping amateur, enthusiast + professional photographers preserve their images in style at

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