On our adventures with kumihimo, we have found a number of books useful. We are not trying to suggest these are the best books for everyone, but they are the ones we have used ourselves.
Most of these books have been bought from BraidersHand.com; Janis has been very helpful when I have asked questions about the books, and even found alternative second hand sources when "250 Braids" was out of print. She has the widest range I have seen, as well as other materials and supplies for the kumihimo enthusiast.
Jacqui Carey - "Beginners Guide to Braiding: The Craft of Kumihimo", reprinted as "Japanese Braiding, The Art of Kumihimo"
I found this book fairly basic, but a good introduction to Kumihimo. All the information in this book is in Creative Kumihimo (see below), but the presentation is better suited for the beginner.
Jacqui Carey - "Creative Kumihimo"
This is probably the book I have used most so far. Although it can be used by a beginner, "Japanese Brading", above, is easier. There is a suggested "path" for a beginner, but it is not always clear what is essential to get you started, and what is more useful at a later stage. There are techniques given to adapt braids to use more threads, and notes on how some of the braids in the book are related to others. There are also charts in the book for plotting your own colour arrangements
Makiko Tada - "Comprehensive Treatise of Braids I: Marudai Braids"
The text is in English and Japanese. There are a few places where there appears to be more information for the Japanese reader - particularly in the Materials and Equipment section. Although there is basic information on setting up your marudai, it is more a reminder for someone who knows what to do, not a beginner's guide. I have not had time to try many of the braids from this book yet, but I plan to work through them. The wide variety of braids, some of them with similar braiding steps yet different outcomes fascinates me, and I expect to be inspired to experiment as I go along.
Makiko Tada - "Comprehensive Treatise of Braids VI: Kumihimo Disc and Plate"
This book is also in Japanese and English. I do not enjoy using the disk/plate so much as the marudai, but they are very convenient if braiding on the move. As well as the techniques for making several different styles of braid on the disk (first section) or plate (second section), there are a number of suggested projects that can act as a stepping off point for your own inspiration.s
Rodrick Owen - Making Kumihimo (Japanese Interlaced Braids)
Using the illustration in this book, Murray has built me a takadai. There are construction plans with detailed measurements and guides available to buy, which I am sure would make it a lot easier, but we enjoyed the challenge. The book assumes no prior knowledge of takadai braiding and covers a range of braids, starting with a relatively simple plain weve, through to double layer braids, on to pick-up braids with techniques for charting your own. I have't progressed to pick-up yet, but this could be very interesting as a future "CDO" design tool
Rodrick Owen - Braids: 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru & Beyond
Rodrick Owen's book includes Japanese, Peruvian, sailing and other braids. Most (possibly all) include instructions for making them on a disk or plate, and the book gives guidance on making your own templates. Because I owned Jacqui Carey's book first, it has never been my "go to" book, but I have found it very useful.
Aiko Sakai - "Illustrated Kumihimo", books 1 and 2
These books are in Japanese, so definitely not for the beginner, unless you can read Japanese. I don't know if it is possible to buy these anymore - I found them in my local library! Most of the patterns are in Makiko Tada's Comprehensive Treatise which is in English and Japanese.
I have some other braiding books that are recommended by others (or have looked like they might fill a hole in my collection), but I have not had the time to use them yet. Once I have taken the time to braid from them, I shall add my comments to this page. This collection has recently expanded further, and now extends to cover takadai and ayatakedai braiding.
Helen Deighan - "Beautiful Braiding Made Easy: Using Kumihimo Disks and Plates"
This book certainly lives up to its title. Everything is very clearly and simply explained, perfect for the beginner to disk or plate. There are lots of pictures and step by step guides. Personally, I found it too easy, probably because I had already learned a lot before I even got it. If you are struggling to understand what to do with your disk or plate, this is probably the book for you. If you already own and can follow Makiko Tada's C.T.B VI, I wouldn't bother.
Makiko Tada - "Comprehensive Treatise of Braids" volumes II through V
I have recently bought the rest of the set, so have the complete Comprehensive Treatise :)
Aiko Sakai and Makiko Tada - Kumihimo - The Essence of Japanese Braiding
Aiko Sakai and Makiko Tada - Ayatakedai Braids
This assumes you already know how to braid on an ayatakedai - but the instructions in "Kumihimo - The Essence of Japanese Braiding" look sufficient
Richard Sutherland - Takadai Rep Braids
Jennie Parry - Textures and Edges for Takadai Braids
Leigh Morris - Bobbin Switching in Two Colours
Okamura Kayo - Kumihimo
I bought this one through eBay. The book looked interesting from the pictures, and I was in a book buying mood, so I got it. Initial impressions are that it would be a brilliant book for beginners - if you read Japanese. There are lots of photos showing techniques to set up, information about equipment, finishing off etc. I haven't looked to see how the braids given compare with my other books.