Book Binding. Tips

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What kind of book binding should I choose?

Binding Decisions

A book binding company usually offers a variety of binding options. The kind of book binding you choose will depend on the type of book you are self-publishing and the way it will be used.

The first major decision is whether to go for hardcover or paperback. Hardbacks tend to be more expensive to produce, but often look more professional and regal. Paperback or soft cover binding is less expensive and may be a good option for people on a budget or people planning a limited distribution, such as to family and friends.

Once you have decided on the type of binding, you also need to choose the appropriate binding method for your book. Manuals and cookbooks might benefit from spiral or wire binding, so that you can lay them flat on a table when referring to them. Smythe sewn binding consists of stitching the groups of pages before they are glued into the cover, which gives the book a durable finish. However, the most popular binding method is the one used on mass market paperbacks and others. This is perfect binding, where the pages are collated and glued, with the cover added to the glue. This type of binding is usually offered by self-publishing and book binding companies.

How can I make sure I have the right number of books?

Keep Count Of Your Copies

When your books arrive from the printer, count the number of cartons and multiply this by the number of books per carton to make sure that you have received all the books you have paid for. It is also worth doing a random sample to make sure your books are in the condition you expect. Make sure you pay attention to the book binding. Some books can be bound upside down or back to front. It is worth spotting these early, so you can return them to the printer and get them printed again.

How should I prepare my book for binding?

A Tale Of Templates

Most self publishing companies provide a template which will help you to lay out your book so it is suitable for binding. If the template is set out in Word, it will include a document with the correct page size (such and 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches) with the margins inset by at least half an inch. All text must be within those margins. This will give a standard paperback size when trimmed. The inside margin will usually be wider to allow space for book binding. This will ensure that none of your text is hidden after the book has been bound.

In a standard template, the wider margin will be on the right of even numbered pages and on the left of odd numbered pages. Page numbers will either be to the left of even numbered pages and the right of odd numbered pages or centered within the printing area. Even if your self publishing company does not provide a template, you can use these guidelines to lay your book out in the correct manner.

What paper sizes are used in Europe?

Paper Chase

The ISO standard is the most common paper size system used in Europe. The height to width ratio is equivalent to the square root of 2. This means that each size, when cut in half, makes two of the smaller size.
A0 measures one square meter. Common paper types in the A series are:

  • A3 (used for tabloid sized newspapers)
  • A4 (used for letters, and for printing journals and newsletters)
  • A5 (used for notepads and small books).
There are also B series and C series sizes that complement the A series. Printers also have access to the RA and SRA series which allow for trim and bleed when printing. This is useful to know if you are using a book binding company abroad.

What is a split run?

Time To Split

A split run is where the print run (the number of copies printed) is divided between paperback and hardcover. This is useful if you are not sure which book binding to choose or which version of your book will be most popular. For example, you might choose to print a few hardcover copies to send to reviewers and the remainder in paperback. You can also choose to leave some of your copies unbound until you see which book binding is popular with buyers. One advantage of modern print-on-demand processes is that the purchaser can choose the binding he or she prefers. However, you may have to pay for two versions of your book.

How can I do my own binding?

DIY Book Binding

If you are self-publishing a small number of books and are on a tight budget, doing your own binding could save you money. Luckily, you don't have to go to a book binding company. A Japanese book binding technique lets you make or repair paperback books with a needle, a thread and an awl (if the book is thick).

Collect your sheets of paper together, clip them together and punch four holes in them. These should be set evenly in a line a quarter of an inch from the spine, the top and the bottom. Get a length of thread which is eight times the height of the book. Nylon thread, carpet thread and waxed dental floss are strongest. Start by pushing the threaded needle (with a knot at the end) through about 20 pages using the lower middle hole. Then bring the thread out to the front cover. Go around the back to and push the needle through where you started, coming back to the top hole. Repeat this till you have used most of the thread then tie it off.

How can I compare North American and European paper sizes?

Metric Paper

If you are planning to use a printing or book binding company outside North America, it is useful to know how your book will translate to European paper formats. There is a lot of information available online to allow you to compare North American and European paper sizes. This information might be useful if you are planning to publish a book for distribution in the European market. North American sizes (used in the US, Canada and Mexico) are non-metric, while Europe, Japan and much of the rest of the world use metricated paper sizes based on the ISO standard.

What is a 'self cover'?

Cover Yourself

Self-cover is another type of book binding. Using a self-cover means that the cover of your book is made of the same material as the inside pages. This is commonly used for newsletters and other booklets. It works well with saddle stitch binding and staple binding. The advantage of using a self cover is that this is usually cheaper than using a heavier paper or card stock. However, self covers are not suitable for every type of publication. They are not usually used with books and journals.

What is perfect binding and should I use it for my book?

Perfect Binding Technique

Perfect book binding is also called adhesive binding or softback binding. The perfect binding machinery applies the paper cover to the glued book-block, squares it off, and trims the three other sides to make the final book. Perfect binding is the process of applying glue to the spine of a book and applying a cover.Note that the most important part of the process is the "grinding unit"— this makes the difference between a good commercial perfect bind and the POD type binders.

The perfect binding technique is fairly expensive bookbinding, most self-publishers use it, and almost any book binding company is equipped for this technique. Stores like this binding because they can display the book spine-out, saving them valuable shelf space. Perfect binding works best for paperback novels, telephone books, brochures, business reports, etc.—it is effective and considerably inexpensive.

Should I plan my book binding early in the publishing process?

Planning your Book Binding

You may have one intitial bindery consultation with your printer, so you can design your entire book and ensure it will be published promptly. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of binding do you prefer?
  • What kind of cover do you prefer?
  • How many books you will have bound?

*If you use a book binding service, get them involved early in the process so the entire design of your book is cohesive. Know what you want so that you can get the job done efficiently and in a timely fashion.

What is a Chicago Screw type book binding?

Chicago Screw Binding

A Chicago screw consists of an aluminum screw post that has a cap on one of the ends, and a screw that threads into it at the other end. The screw and the screw post both have big, flat heads to hold the pages when the two parts are screwed together. Pages and cover are simply drilled, and screwed together.

This binding is fine for small press runs, or a few books that will not get heavy use, but again, booksellers like a book that has the title on the spine, and these books do not have any printing on the spine. Some technical and how-to manuals benefit from this type of book binding and it is very convenient if you want to add or remove pages.

What about spiral binding for my book?

Spiral Binding Your Book

Are you in a bind choosing a bind? Plastic comb binding, spiral binding, and wiro binding are all quite similar types of book bindings.

  • Comb binding is found mostly at quick print printers because the equipment is inexpensive
  • Wiro and spiral are more commercially acceptable

The advantage to this type of book binding technique is that the pages lay flat (making it especially good for cookbooks).



When selecting a bindery, it is in your best interest to find one that can handle all of your needs (binding, embossing, die-cutting, foil stamping, etc.) l in-house. This assures attention to detail at every step, and turnaround times that meet your deadlines. In addition, it will help you to avoid extra costs that would inevitably amount if you had to get multips services from multiple companies. Go for an all-in-one!

What is the tape and staple type of book binding?

Tape and Staple Binding

Are you a do-it-yourselfer and want to go the cheap route? Assess your needs before investing in book binding. If you are looking to publish a fairly short publication (like a thesis, brochure, or manual), and don't need fancy, expensive binding try tape and staple binding. The tape and staple type of binding is often used for smaller print runs of books printed on 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper. The book is sewn or stapled together along the spine, and then tape is place over the staples or sewing.

*This book does not have a title on the spine, so it can be hard to market to booksellers.

What is case binding?

Case Binding

Case binding (or edition binding) is the type of binding used in hardback books. The process involves sewing the individual signatures together, leveling the spine, and applying endsheets and a piece of cloth to the spine. After this process, the hard cover is added. The spine of a book made through case binding may have grooves along the edges however, the spine is usually rounded.

*Case binding is the suggested method of binding for books that are used daily (text books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, logs, diaries, registers, etc.).

How can I produce a book without using a book binding company?

The E-book Alternative

If you don't want to use a book binding company, consider making your book available electronically. With an e-book you can still have many of the benefits of self-publishing. You can get an ISBN for your e-book, choose a cover design, get assistance with marketing and sales, and receive royalties on book sales. Like most self publishing companies, e-book publishers provide templates to help you format your book and lay it out appropriately. However, you will not have to worry about choosing a type of binding. Instead, you can focus on promoting your e-book, so you earn as much as possible from self-publishing.

Should I use saddle stitching for my book?

Saddle Stitching Your Self Published Book

Think before you hop on the saddle! Saddle stitching is less expensive for books of 64 pages or less. Instead of piling the signatures on top of each other (like perfect binding), signatures are wrapped around each other on a "saddle," wire-stitched, then trimmed on three sides. This book binding technique is great if you're producing a newsletter for the local PTA, but not if you're trying to sell a book, so many book binding services don't provide this service.

Saddle stitching your self published book has a much lower perceived value. Since these books do not have a spine and would have to be displayed face-out, bookstores do not generally like saddle-stitched books — consider this when considering different types of book bindings. The exceptions to this rule are certain types of children's picture books.

What are end leaves?

End Leaves of a Book

In book binding, endleaf or endpaper (sometimes simply referred to as "ends”), are actually four pages of your self published book. Endleaves are necessary to hold your printed pages into the hardcover binding and are made of different paper than the rest of the published book (these pages may be printed in a single color or left blank). They generally don't have any copy printed on them and are not counted into the total page count. Not all books have endleaves. A hardcover book without ends is called "self-ended." In a self-ended book, the eight pages of endleaves are counted into the page count. For example, a thirty-two page self-ended book has thirty-two pages (out of which eight pages are endleaves and twenty-four pages are the story).

*You should never shop around for a separate supplier for book binding. Good printers will have in-house binderies. If a company does not, you should rethink using them. Juggling two vendors is time-consuming, expensive, and just difficult.

Is using adhesive case a good idea?

Adhesive Case

Binding books is an important step in the book building process. Unless you are printing books that will be used frequently (textbooks, logs, coffee table books, etc.) you do not need to sew them. Adhesives have come a long way and work great for binding hardcover books for normal use. Adhesive case is a style of hardcover binding where the signatures are glued instead of sewn. it works well and is great for the budget job.

Can I bind my own books?

A Simple Book Binding Technique

If you are only making a few copies of your self published book, there's no need to pay a professional. You can do your own bookbinding. There are many web sites that will show you how to sew together and glue your own book, complete with a cover. They are easy to locate through large search engines like Google and Yahoo. You can present your creation to family members, friends, and neighbors. These books take a lot of time but are sure to impress.

What is the best binding for a cookbook?

Layflat Binding Technique

If you are publishing a cookbook, you should consider using "lay-flat" binding rather than spiral or wiro binding. Lay-Flat binding serves the purpose of being able to flatten the book out to use while cooking while having a backbone that can still be printed (which makes it easier for stores to shelve your book with the title showing on the spine).

*This type of book binding is a little more expensive than regular perfect binding, but only marginally.

Where can I find a book binding company?

How to Find A Book Binding Company

Take your time and make a good decision when selecting a book binding company. Chances are you will not find a good binder nearby—you will have to do research. Ask others who have experience in the process about book binders that they used and pay attention to suggestions. It is also useful to look online and read reviews and comments about companies before selecting one.

*You want a book printer with an in-house bindery (unless you want to spend lot of money unnecessarily).



Case binding involves wrapping a hard case around either a sewn, adhesive-bound or mechanically-bound book. Cases can be made from a large range of materials inclusive of different types of cloth, or your own printed sheets. If you really want to get fancy, you can add decorative elements to your case binding (additional case decorating options include die cutting, foil stamping, debossing and more).

Case is the most important and, unfortunately, expensive part of case binding. Case can range from a printed case wrap to stamped cloth wrapping 80PT to 110PT Board. Regardless of what stle or decorative options you choose with your case binding, make sure that the binder is in a printing plant or you might end up facing additional hefty fees.


Foil Stamping

Want to add an elegant look to your book cover? Try foil stamping on the cover and spine. Foil stamping can add metallic brilliance to any cover and really help your print to stand out. Foil stamping can either be computerized (semi-automated machine used) or done in handset type (for more detailed, unique layouts). The price is dependent upon how elaborate the design is.

*As a general rule when selecting an imprint color, choose darker imprints on lighter materials and lighter imprints on darker materials (this will create the greatest contrast).

*Make sure that your cover treatment is done in the bindery plant.

What is the Smythe sewing binding?

Smythe Sewing Binding

Want to abuse your books? The Smythe sewing binding is an extremely strong type of binding for books that are meant to lay open or be read often. It is one of the longest lasting types of book bindings and is often used in textbooks, coffee table books, library books, and religious publications.

*If you are planning on writing a book that you think will need to take a endure a lot of use or abuse or one that a reader might need to have open to a certain page for an extended period of time, this might be the best book binding for you to consider. Keep in mind, however, that smythe sewing does not allow for lay-flat capabilities. Adhesive case binding is the preferred method in all but rare cases (it is very strong with today's adhesives).

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