What Are Your Options for Binding Books and Other Materials

Just as you have many un cours en miracles, paper, and folding, you’ll find lots of options for binding your projects, too. Each binding method has a specific benefit, whether it’s low cost, durability, or the ability to lie flat when open. Be sure to ask your printer for advice on choosing the appropriate binding for your project.

Here are some of the most common binding methods and applications for each of them.

Case Bound (Hard Cover)

You would likely choose this kind of binding for reference books, archival materials, textbooks, children’s books, and gift books.

With case bound binding, the signatures of paper (usually one signature is 32 pages) are glued together, then glued to a gauze strip. After that, the entire book block is glued with end sheets onto hard covers. For added durability, the signatures can be sewn together first, allowing the book to lie flatter than a perfect bound book but not as flat as Wire-O® or spiral bound books. The spine of the book can be squared or rounded depending on the equipment that the case binder has. Notice it has hinges (grooves) along the edges of the cover near the spine.

Some hard covers feature printed artwork laminated to the boards. Others can have dust covers, which are the paper “jackets” you see on books. Those books with dust covers usually have a cloth covering on the boards. Alternatively, they could have paper covers that look like cloth, but are less expensive. The title of the book may be foil stamped onto the spine and/or front cover.

Perfect Bound (Soft Cover)

Most commonly used for paperback books and documents, soft covers are bound in a similar way as hard cover books. Perfect binding is also used to bind novels, annual reports, and self-help books.

With this type, after the signatures are gathered, the spine is ground to create a rough surface and then glued to a paper cover. For added durability, the spine can be notched (cut with v-shaped slits), allowing more surface for glue. This is called notch-perfect binding. While the glue is still hot, the paper cover gets wrapped around the spine. Alternatively, you can ask to have the signatures sewn instead of glued. The sewn option allows the book to open somewhat flat, though not as much as other kinds of bindings.

Otabind or Lay Flat

Otabind or Lay Flat binding is frequently used for technical manuals, directories, cookbooks, and reference books. In this type of binding, the signatures are gathered and glue is applied to the spine, then the book block is capped covering only the glue. The capping is side glued and a cover is applied, adhering only to the side glue and detached from the spine. This particular process was patented, but the patent has expired, which is why you’ll hear the term “Lay Flat” binding more often than Otabind.

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