Do-It-Yourself Perfect Binding

Paperback Novels Are Perfect Bound

Cropped Image Of Craftsperson Working Book Binding At Workshop

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Perfect binding is the method of bookbinding in which a flexible adhesive attaches a paper cover to the spine of the assembled signatures of a book or magazine. Perfect binding and saddle-stitching are the two most popular binding techniques.

Perfect binding involves collating all the pages or signatures of a book, roughening and flattening the edge of the spine area, and then applying a flexible adhesive and attaching a paper cover to the spine.

Paperback novels are one example of perfect binding. Booklets, telephone directories, and some magazines use perfect binding methods too. Compared to other binding methods, perfect binding is durable and has a low-to-medium cost. It can be used with publications that are several inches thick.

Characteristics of Perfect Binding

A perfect bound book has a flat spine. If the book is thick enough, the cover can be imprinted on the spine with the name of the publication. Many commercial printers offer perfect binding to their customers.

When preparing digital files for a perfect bound publication, you don't need to worry about adjusting for the creep that occurs when the book is saddle-stitched. Because the pages are stacked on top of one another, rather than nested, no creep occurs in perfect binding.

A variation of traditional perfect binding is Eurobind binding where the cover is glued only to the sides of the spine so that a perfect bound book can open flat. Also, some books combine glue with signatures that are sewn together for durability.

Do-It-Yourself Perfect Book Binding

You can bind your own books using a DIY version of perfect binding. You'll need a heavy-duty white glue, several clips large enough to clamp around the signatures of the book, fine-grit sandpaper, cotton swabs, and two flat wooden paint-stirring sticks.

Before you begin, carefully fold the pages of the book. If you printed on letter-size paper and your book will be 5.5 by 8.5 inches, neatly fold the letter size paper in half.

  1. Assemble the folded signatures of the book in the proper order. Jog them toward the spine for an even edge.

  2. Place one wooden stick on the front of the assembled pages and one on the back positioned close to the spine, but not touching. Position the clamps over the spine and the wooden sticks. Clamp everything securely.

    The sticks prevent the clamps from making indentations in the pages of the book.

  3. Roughen the edges of the spine with sandpaper. This helps the glue adhere to the paper. Move the clips as needed as you work but don't unclamp the book.

  4. Use cotton swabs to apply a generous layer of glue to the spine area of the pages.

  5. Wait at least half an hour for the glue to dry.

  6. Apply a second coat of glue to the spine.

  7. Wait for the glue to dry completely.

  8. Remove the clamps.

  9. Attach a pre-folded cover over the book, or use a ruler to make two creases in the cover the same distance apart as the thickness of the spine. It gives a neat fold around the spine area.

  10. Apply glue to the spine again and press the cover in place.

  11. Reclamp the book using the wooden sticks and wait until the cover dries completely.

  12. Remove the clamps and sticks.

  13. Trim the cover with a razor blade or utility knife for a neat edge.

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