Getting in a bind over book binding

I’ve been talking lately about the new world of independent publishing – the way all authors can, if they so desire, become publishers. A lot of the terms can be daunting and today I’m going through some of the ones associated with book binding.

Wright_Books2The three main ones are:

  1. Perfect binding. This is when the pages are guillotined to size (‘trimmed’) and bound with a card cover, using flexible adhesives. Sometimes it’s also known as having a ‘drawn on cover’ because the cover is ‘drawn’ over the pile of pages. You’ll know it as a standard cheap paperback. And that’s the advantage – it’s cheap.
  2. Burst binding. This is exactly the same as perfect binding, except that the pages aren’t guillotined at the spine. Instead, they’re prepared in folds of typically 16-24pp, known as ‘bursts’, often sewn (‘stitched’) together before the cover is ‘drawn on’ and glued. It’s a more expensive form of paperback but is also more robust than simple perfect binding. It’s robust enough to support larger format books which, in the trade, are known as ‘limp cover’.
  3. Case binding. This is the same as burst binding, however the bursts are sewn together with strong webbing and a heavy-duty card cover (‘case’) often wrapped in textured fabric, is drawn on. You’ll know it as a standard hardback. It’s a very robust cover. Often the cover itself isn’t printed, or is given a decoration in gold leaf, and the book itself then given a paper jacket, a ‘slip cover’ – containing the cover artwork and back matter.

All of this is rather arcane but it gets quite interesting after a while, and it’s something publishers think about a good deal of the time because it’s their stock in trade.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016


5 thoughts on “Getting in a bind over book binding

  1. Hi Matthew! Per your earlier permission, I’ve scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post this Sunday. As usual, it includes your credit/bio/and blog link. Thanks!

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