What Is the Best Bookbinding Option?

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1106 Design

April 16, 2024

We recently discussed how print books are still a viable option for authors and how it’s important to offer as many versions of your book as possible. If you decide that producing a print book is right for you, you’ll be faced with many bookbinding options.

How your book is bound will depend on several factors, including your preference, your chosen printer, page count, paper stock, and trim size. Each binding method has its advantages and disadvantages, and you may find that you would benefit from more than one binding style. For instance, you may want to offer a less expensive softcover option as well as a special edition hardcover version.

Keep in mind that print-on-demand (POD) printers offer only a limited number of binding styles, so if you desire a particular, unsupported binding style, such as spiral binding, you’ll need to turn to an offset printer. We weighed out the pros and cons of POD and offset printers in this previous blog post.

For now, let’s take a look at a few popular binding styles.

 

Perfect Binding

Perfect binding is the most common form of bookbinding. In a nutshell, an adhesive holds the pages of perfect-bound books together within a softcover enclosure. This cost-effective option is suitable for most genres and page counts, but because it doesn’t allow the book to lay flat, it isn’t for everyone.

Perfect bound books can be produced quickly, and their lighter weight can decrease shipping costs. This style is ideal for books with a spine wider than ⅛ inch. Smaller books will need to use other methods, such as saddle-stitching.

Note: A more expensive (and more durable) alternative to perfect binding is thread-sewing, where signatures of paper are stitched, not glued, together to create a softcover book.

 

Hardcover Binding

With hardcover binding, or casebinding, signatures of paper are glued or stitched together. After that, the entire book block is glued with end sheets onto a hardcover enclosure. Hardcover books are usually either cloth-covered or case laminate (like a textbook, with the cover image glued to the boards). Dust jackets are optional, but they are recommended if you order cloth hardcovers.

While more expensive and time-consuming to produce than softcover books, hardcover books are more durable and are generally viewed as higher quality, especially if pages are stitched rather than glued. However, because hardcover books are heavier, shipping costs may be high.

Though they come at a higher price, some readers are willing to absorb the increased cost because of the higher quality.

 

Saddle-Stitching

Also known as stapling, this style of binding is suitable only for books with a small page count. Sheets of paper are folded and stapled together. Unlike adhesive binding, this style of binding allows the book to lay almost flat and is usually used for magazines and brochures.

Saddle-stitching is durable as long as the page count is low enough that the staples hold. It’s a low-cost option, but one that doesn’t look as professional as other options. With saddle-stitching, your book’s spine won’t display the title, which can make discovery in bookstores more difficult unless the book is displayed with the cover facing customers.

 

Spiral Binding

With spiral binding, sheets of paper are stacked atop each other, punched through on one side, and bound together with a wire or plastic spiral. Spiral binding allows the book pages to lay flat or be folded backward, which makes this an ideal binding style for recipe books, textbooks, and workbooks, to name a few. 

Like saddle-stitched books, spiral-bound books don’t have a spine in the traditional sense. Unless you request a template for a covered spiral binding from your printer, your designer will only create the front and back covers for your book. This means the title of your book won’t be printed on the spine.

 

Keep in mind that for books that don’t lay flat, your designer must be careful that the print of the book doesn’t extend too close to the edge of the page, otherwise it will be unreadable. Book design is complex, so be sure you hire a service that knows what they’re doing.

There are many more bookbinding options to choose from, and some of them may suit your needs better than others. If you have any questions about specific binding styles or which would work best for your needs, we’re happy to help. All of our services come with author coaching, but we also offer this service a la carte if you just need detailed advice and don’t wish to commit to any other services yet.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you along your publishing journey.

 

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