Which Binding Process Is Best For Books?

Which Binding Process Is Best For Books?

Our customers regularly ask us which is the most suitable type of binding to use on their books. Often the printer’s terminology is confusing to buyers without a technical background.

The 2 main types of commercial bookbinding most used today are broadly described as Soft Cover or Hard Cover (often referred to as Case Bound) books.

So, which type of binding is best for books? Either can be the right choice. Soft and hardcover binding each have different qualities and benefits. The best type of binding for you will depend on what attributes you’d like it to have. You might put a premium on durability for instance, or perhaps making you book light and portable is most important to you.

With this in mind the following article should help you understand the benefits each type of binding.

Soft-Cover Binding

Lets firstly look at Soft Cover, used for paperbacks etc. this usually consists of a separate heavier weight Cover material to the main text stock usually 250 gsm.

Whilst you can use heavier weights (up to 350 – 400gsm) this is not usually recommended as these heavier weights tend to crease and bend, the 200 – 250gsm range offers more flexibility.

Perfect Binding

The definition of perfect binding is a book binding in which a layer of adhesive holds the pages and cover together.

There are 2 main types of Perfect Binding in use today.

Perfect Binding with EVA adhesive (traditionally known as Perfect Binding).

This is the most common form of binding used for long run items, paperbacks, school books etc. where cost is a consideration and the thickness of the book is greater than 5mm on the spine.

To offer increased security for the pages it is often used in conjunction with either thread sewing (diaries etc.) or wire stab stitching (stapling under the cover) depending upon the quality and cost requirements of the project.

Here in the middle East where storage temperatures inside non air conditioned warehouses can reach 45C, we always advise the use of stab stitching as an additional layer of securing the pages and increasing the durability of the books.

To explain this in a little detail, the gathered sections are stapled (stab stitched) the book spines are then milled of (sawn flat to remove the rounded spines) and the spine is run over a heated glue wheel, side glue is added and then the cover is drawn on.

Stab stitching has a very minimal disadvantage in that the staples will show as slight indentations on the cover, again this will depend upon the quality and purpose of the book.

PUR Perfect Binding

This is essentially the same process as traditional binding, however the advancement in adhesive manufacturing has resulted in PUR adhesives offering better flexibility and a wider adhesion to coated papers, UV Varnishes and other factors.

Another advantage of PUR binding is the ability to use a thinner layer of adhesive enabling spine thicknesses as low as 3mm to be bound.

Whilst on the face of it PUR Binding would appear to be a superior method of binding, the factor of cost has to then be factored into the equation with most printers often charging a premium of around 30 – 40% for this type of binding.

Hard-Cover Binding

Case Bound Books

This type of binding is the most expensive and is ideally suited to high quality picture or coffee table books such as photographic places of interest, special interest books, atlases etc.

The process starts with the text sections being gathered and thread sewn on a separate sewing line, the books are then typically stacked in piles of around 15 – 20 a gauze spine backing and manually glue adhesive is applied.

This differs from Perfect Binding as the rounded spine sections remain and are not removed.

The cover is usually printed as a sheet of end paper typically a 170gsm – 250gsm weight will be used, if lamination is being applied it would require a paper which is sufficiently stable as not to curl.

The hard case cover is typically made from 2400 – 3000gsm Grey Board, cut into 3 sections, spine, Front & Back covers, these will be attached to the cover sheet allowing space to allow for the opening/closing of the finished book (this space is hidden with the outside and inside cover papers).

For the inside the gathered spine sections are then glued on top of plain white (referred to as end papers) paper (usually 100 – 150gsm) which form the inside of the book, if a printed inside front/back cover is required this will be used here.

As this process requires several operations the cost is much higher than Perfect Binding, however, for high quality books that last for years there really is no substitute.

Although not really termed as bookbinding I thought it useful to finish off this article with some other types of binding suited to smaller jobs in general.

Saddle Stitching

Many clients are confused as to what this particular form of binding is, if you take a sheet of paper and fold this in half the V shape section is referred to as a saddle and these are stapled then trimmed on 3 edges.

Saddle Stitching also referred to as Gather, Stitching & Trimming machines are mainly used for small brochure or magazine type of projects with pages up to a maximum of 80.

Advantage with this type of binding is speed the printed sheet is folded into sections and the sections are fed into a feeder, gathered, cover is fed last, stitched (wire staples) and then trimmed on 3 edges (obviously not the spine).

Very fast and secure method of binding small booklets with the advantage of opening flat.

Wire O Binding

Often referred to as calendar binding, this process uses flat sheets, which are gathered into sequence then punched, the punched sheets (which will include thicker front and back leaves then have a round wire inserted and closed.

This type of binding is excellent for items such as wall calendars (a small hanger is inserted into the wire) ideal for training/instruction manuals etc. allowing the user to open flat, ability to produce minimal quantities and often the preferred choice for Digital Printers.

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