Downtown Abilene home to rare book binding business

Book binding business:a historic gem in downtown Abilene

ABILENE, Texas - You may have lived in Abilene your whole life and there is still a chance you haven't noticed the small book binding business downtown.

It's rare – only a few others exist in Texas.

Book binder H.V. Chapman and Sons opened in 1947.  It was a three-generation business in Stan Chapman's family.

When Stan Chapman took it over from his father, he decided to buy the original building. The business had moved around between three rental locations.

"I remember my Dad saying 'That building's gonna fall down around your ears,'" he said, laughing. "He thought it was a terrible mistake.

But even in the age of the Internet, iPads and digital tablets, it's still clicking along.

Last year, though, Chapman decided to pass the torch.   

"He said, 'Would you sell it?' and I said 'Well not to just anyone... but you may fit the bill," said Chapman.

Enter Tim De La Vega. He was a family friend of the Chapmans and grew up in the printing business.

"If he ever sold he wanted someone that would kind of preserve what his family had created and had been doing for the last 65 years," said De La Vega.

And that's what he did. Some of the machines they use today are nearly a century old.

"This whole place is a museum, from the building to the equipment to the way we do our business," he said.

The way they do their business is primarily by hand.

"There's always the option to automate and make things maybe a little easier, but we're kind of preserving a tradition here," De La Vega said.

He hopes that tradition will continue the way it did in the Chapman family.

"It's definitely our plan to keep it a family business and hopefully keep going for a long time," he said.

Stan Chapman said he's not worried about the companies' future...or the future of books.

"You'll always have a large portion of people that want to hold a book in their hands and read it and that's not going to fade away. I don't think it will at all," Chapman said.

De La Vega did make one small change. He added modern copying machines. Chapman said he's OK with that.

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