Book Resources

Book Binding Methods

Book Binding Methods

Choosing the right type of binding for a book is usually determined by its function, page count and the desired aesthetic. Depending on these factors, there are many different choices of binding that can literally bring together and complement your project. When considering what type of biding to go for, you must ultimately consider the cost, the functionality of the book and the appearance that you desire.

What is Bookbinding?

Book binding is the method of how a book’s pages are assembled and held together. Pages are usually stacked together and held in place by sewing or adhesive and attached to the cover of the book. The cover which wraps around the bound stack of paper can either be flexible or rigid, and a material of choice such as leather and book cloth can be attached to the boards as a way of customising it.

The process of book binding is done using a multitude of tools and unique processes. Every order of books has a unique specification and so the process of cutting paper sizes, measuring materials and gluing particular parts varies for each order. If a book is being hand-crafted, a book Craftsman will have a wide knowledge of a variety of different materials and structures. They will use numerous hand tools and machinery to aid them to cut, seam and measure the essential parts of a book.As well as being a hand-crafted industry, modern day has also seen the development of bulk production lines, which enable books to be mass produced using machinery.

Binding methods can dictate the aesthetic and inform the function of your book. There are many different ways that paper can be bound together that can enhance the way a book is read, perceived and used. Depending on what the ultimate function of your project is, it is important to consider the functionality of your book. Do you need something which lays flat? Do you want you book to have a classic look? Do you want your book to last a long time and therefore need protection?

In this section, the many different types of binding are described in terms of their visual appearance, the way they are binded, their benefits and what they are used most commonly for. The section explores some traditional binding methods and some of the more modern, and will ultimately help you choose what’s best for your project in mind.

A Brief History of Bookbinding

Early hand-bound book binding methods from the fifth century involved stitching parchment papers  at the spines with strong sewing cord, which were placed onto wooden boards and covered with leather material. The sizes and styles varied considerably as they have no uniformity of creating the books. Early books were bound with flat spines, until the fifteenth century when, because of vellum reacting in the books swelling due to humid conditions, the spines appeared rounded. This is how the hardbound books have obtained their characteristic look they have today.

In the 16th Century, with the beginning of the printing press, books became smaller as they needed to be able to fit in peoples’ satchels. This smaller format and larger printing ability made books more accessible. The books were able to fit onto shelves and stand on their spines, and so clasps were removed from bindings and titles could be added to their spines.The accessibility to produce books meant the overall cost lowered and books began to be made with flexible covers. Bibles were made with glue bindings and soft covers in able to transport them around the world.

In the 19th century, British publishers started to use book cloth as a way of binding their books. It was William Pickering who first covered the paper book boards in fabric with a pine made from paper. the late part of the 19th Century saw  the invention of case binding which enabled customisations such as stamping to be used.

Popular Methods

The most popular binding methods today include Hardbound binding, which consists of binding hard covers to individual signatures of papers together using stitching. Case Binding falls into this category too, where a hardback case is mounted around a stack of bounded paper. Hardback binding is popular for its longevity and its ability to protect a book from wear and tear.

Another category of binding is soft binding, which includes methods such as saddle-stitching, singer sewn and perfect binding. These methods hold together soft cover exteriors and are a cheaper way of binding books.

Things to Consider

Usually the content of your book will natural inform what type of aesthetic choices you will decide for a book, but there are still many options worth considering when planning. Basic questions such as, ‘what is the aim/purpose of this book?’ ‘who are my target audience and how many am I aiming to distribute?’ are good questions to begin with and will inform some of your design choices. Considering how your book will be used will also help you chose a binding style or cover material. Some books materials are suited for longevity whereas some are great for everyday use and so deciding how well you would like you books to be protected is an important decision.