Benjamin Elbel is a French bookbinder born in 1983 and living in Lembach, France. He is known for his contributions to the field of innovative book structures, and operates a boutique bindery specialising in presentation solutions for books, manuscripts and more.

Benjamin fell in love with bookbinding while studying illustration in Strasbourg. What was first a hobby quickly turned into a burning passion and Benjamin decided to leave illustration behind and go on to study bookbinding and conservation at the centro del bel libro in Ascona, Switzerland.

Two years after leaving this school Benjamin was asked to return to teach a class on his own bookbinding structures, making him the youngest ever instructor in that internationally renowned school.

The years following his formal training were devoted to acquiring work experience. For five years Benjamin took employment in various companies in Germany and the UK, made internships, and traveled the world to meet mentors.

It was in London that he first started to work as a self-employed bookbinder, under the name elbel libro, a tribute to his place of training in Switzerland. Together with Kieke Schaaper, they worked for stationery brands, the hospitality industry (hotel and restaurant menus), for a while ran an independant print+bind service, and gradually made their way to the rare book world, in which they still mostly operate today.

Meanwhile Benjamin continued teaching locally and across Europe. In 2014 Ben and Kieke traveled to the US and taught at various places from North Carolina to the West Coast. Around that time he was the first to conduct a successful online course using Skype, and soon after began publishing instruction manuals under the imprint 'bookbinding out of the box'.

Today Ben continues his research and services to the rare book world, and is available as a consultant around his areas of expertise: binding and presentation structures, boxmaking, edition binding, foil blocking, lean manufacturing, workflow optimisation.

Ben is married to Kieke Schaaper and they live in rural Alsace with their son, Maxime. 


Kieke was born in The Netherlands in 1985 and grew up in a bookbinders environment with her mum having her own bindery.

Kieke loves handmade design, paper, textile, textures, patterns, colours, has a great eye for details and is multi-disciplined. She studied Design & Styling at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and graduated Cum Laude in 2006. After her study she worked for several creative brands and magazines.

Kieke is a key element of bookbinding out of the box since the beginning of this adventure by being Benjamin's partner in life and in business.

She does pretty much everything that is not hands-on bookbinding (social media, website, online shop, managing bookbinding out of the box, administration, graphic design and many more)

Her job is to make sure that it is a pleasure working with us.