After operating in Berkeley for more than 90 years, Pettingell Book Bindery is closing its doors Dec. 31.
The current owner, Klaus Rötzscher, has been a bookbinder for 48 years and purchased Pettingell in 1994. Rötzscher said he is no longer accepting new binding work, but the store will still be open for customers to purchase items until its close date.
“I really enjoyed meeting a variety of interesting people and interesting books that I was privileged to handle,” Rötzscher said.
Relying on the operations of measuring, cutting and gluing, bookbinding is a craft that synthesizes several skills, including leatherwork and graphic arts, according to the store’s website. Knowledge of an array of book structures is required, and each individual book could involve dozens of operations.
Before purchasing Pettingell Book Bindery, Rötzscher said he had a store in San Francisco called Klaus Rötzscher Book Binding, which he opened in 1987.
Rötzscher did work for churches, hospitals and cemeteries, along with customers who would come to him on an individual basis.
“I had several people who self-published and just people who love their books, or sometimes they have books they want to rebind out of sentimental reasons so they can pass it on to their children or grandchildren,” Rötzscher said. “Very great variety of books and people. Most of the time was just a one-time transaction, but other times they came back over the years.”
Rötzscher said he ultimately decided to close Pettingell for a variety of reasons, including that his lease is up and the store is suffering financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also noted that he is ready to retire, and he plans to revitalize his personal library and organize his collection of books.
“It is with a tear and a smile,” Rötzscher said. “A tear because it’s a loss to the community, and I provided valuable services over the years, and the smile because I am retiring and I look forward to it.”