VISITORS TO Ronnie Gousman's shop are tantalized with the smells of rich leather and the look of another era. This English-looking space is filled with handsome, leather-bound books bordered with gold, and in Gousman's workroom, old bookbinding tools line the walls. The implements are not mere decoration; they're put to use every day. Gousman, whose father started the business in the 1940s, is a second-generation custom bookbinder.
Most of Gousman's clients work in the entertainment industry, but he welcomes anyone interested in having books, magazines, important papers or photographs bound. The work is done entirely by hand (there are about 100 steps to bookbinding), so an order can take from three to four weeks. "If I don't think I can manage a job," Gousman says. "I don't accept it. Everything is done here; I don't send anything out."
Gousman's customers are offered a selection of 18 colors of top-grain cowhide or fabric book cloth; all decorative tooling is done in 24-karat gold, using antique rolls or filets. Velvet and moire are used where appropriate, and endpapers are chosen from French marbled papers, British Cockerells papers and what Gousman refers to as "Mr. Seymour's papers," a limited selection of soft, swirled designs made by that British papermaker.
Gousman also stocks a range of guest books, writing books, notebooks, hand-sewn photo albums and videocassette holders.
Ronnie Gousman, 8159 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (213) 651-2900.