How do I decide on binding?

Book-Bindings

For binding, there are a few types of binding that you will see on a normal basis.

Perfect Binding; Soft Cover: This is where the pages of your book are together in a book block, and are glued to your paper cover. Things that you should watch for is that your printer does a single side book laminate on the cover, and that they do hinge scores on the cover. The single side laminate protects your book, and if done properly, will be a shield that will protect your edges and corners, giving your book a lot more longevity. A hinge score is a score mark (a notch made in your book cover that will not damage the cover surface, but allows for folding without a large amount of breakage in the fibers of the paper) that goes perpendicular to your spine on the front and back cover, so that people can open your book without worrying as much about creasing the cover, or having the cover rip away from the glue bind as a result of repeated tugging on it. Essentially, it creates a place where your cover can naturally fold open. This is a good bind for books that are 36 to 1000 pages, although you can go up to 1200. Ideally, you want to have your paper stock, in the majority, for this type of book to be an uncoated stock if you are printing digitally. An uncoated stock provides a better bond between your paper and the glue that does the binding work. This type of bind is the only one that has issues that result from using a coated stock for the majority of pages in the book.

Saddle Stitch Binding: This is a bind where your book is printed up in signatures and then put together with the cover, scored in the center, folded, and then stapled up the fold. Think of a large majority of children’s books, or multiple paged booklets. This is a common bind for both. Once again, you want to be sure that you have a single sided laminate on the cover to protect your book. These books need to have a number of pages that are divisible by 4 (12, 16, 20, etc) and no more than 80 pages. The covers on these books will notoriously pop open a little bit for a long time. Eventually the paper will relax, and your book will lay flat, but don’t expect that right away. Once again, think of kids books. For paper, the sky is really the limit with these books.

A quick note about hard cover or case bound books: For all hard cover books, you can put pretty much any text weight paper in the interior, and you won’t have to worry too much. There are multiple ways of binding hard cover books, but for the case of simplicity, let’s stick to the idea that you are just looking at the simplest and cheapest way of doing that, which is perfect binding it with glue.  However, if you are going to be looking for an economical choice and you aren’t ordering books in the thousands, any hardcover option will be pricey.

Standard Case Bound Book: This is your standard hard cover book. It has a cloth, leather or vinyl type of material covering the “hard” or “case” cover. The most economical material that you can get your books covered with would be the ones of the vinyl variety. With these books you will also get what is called a foil stamp on them. This would be the writing on your spine and cover. You can choose from a variety of colors, including gold and silver. You can even do designs on the front, if you are willing to pay extra for it. I have seen some beautiful books created this way.

Dust Jackets: Commonly you will see people pair their standard case bound books up with dust jackets. Essentially, this is the cover of the book with 2-3” flaps (typically) that can wrap around the case bound book, and be removed. These are usually printed on an 80# gloss text weight stock, and then laminated on one side. A classic, and often beautiful looking choice, this isn’t the most hardy way to go if you want a real cover on your case bound book. I am sure that we all have a large collection of hard cover books that have dust jackets that look like they’ve witnessed far better days. That is, of course, assuming that you aren’t like me, who has a collection of bare case bound books and an equally large collection of missing dust jackets, likely eaten by one of the family pets, a toddler or two, or just forever gone to the place where things like the matching partner to your sock goes to. Just as a note, unless you want to pay to go to offset for your dust jacket, the limit for most digital printers would be a 6 or 6.5 x 9 book. When you add the 3 inch flaps, the spine, and then the 12 inches in width of the cover itself, you are quickly approaching the 20 inch maximum mark.

Lithowraps: This is my personal favorite when it comes to case bound books. Previously reserved for things like text books, this type of binding is becoming more popular with books from every genre. Hardy and guaranteed to keep your dust jacket attached to the book, it is easy to see why. Essentially, they take your printed and laminated cover, and wrap it around the “case” or “hard” cover. There it stays, attached, and difficult to damage. This is becoming especially popular in hard cover children’s books, for very obvious reasons. This option, typically, is also cheaper than the dust jacket option.

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