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5 ways to Bind Books

5 ways to Bind Books

by Ken Clark

Over the years, people have asked us to bind our books in different ways.

1. Perfect Binding

There are two main ways that textbook publishers bind books. The first way is called “perfect” binding. In this process the parts of the book are glued together and glued to the cover of the book. This is a very fast, inexpensive, and good process. Most books last for at least a year or two, which is the length of time that a single student needs to complete the course for which the book is created. To perfect bind a book, a book needs to be at least 80 pages long or thick.

2. Saddle Stiched

The second way to bind a book is called “saddle stitched.” This means that the book is stapled together, usually with 2 or three staples along the spine of the book. The cover is also stapled to the pages. This is very inexpensive way to bind a book, but cannot be used on very big books. Usually if a book is more than 100 pages, perfect binding is the preferred method.

3. Sewn

These are not the only ways to bind books. When you buy a fine book that you want to last for a long time, you might have a book that has been sewn together. Look at that top of the spine where the pages and the cover come together. You can see if a book has been sewn. This is a very expensive process which is only used on very large books or very expensive books that you wish to last. Few, if any textbooks, at the elementary and high school level are ever sewn, although some high school yearbooks are.

4. GBC Binding

Another way to bind a book is called GBC binding. (General Binding Corporation) These are the black plastic spirals that go through the holes in the paper to bind the book. There are some advantages to books bound this way. The most obvious is that the book lies flat. However, there are huge disadvantages to printers. First, most printers are not set up to do GBC binding. The printer Seton uses is not. Unlike glue or staples, the holes have to be perfectly aligned with the black plastic prongs in the binding tube. Go to Staples and see if they will let you bind 20 sheets, it’s not easy.

We have a GBC binder at Seton, we have had one for 30 years and I have personally bound 100’s of books and documents with it, it is difficult. Books are printed in the thousands, this would be an enormous amount of worker time and energy. While it might be something that would work on small press runs of a few dozen or maybe even a 100, in my judgment it would never work for several thousand books. Also, the edges can be sharp. Also, they don’t fit well in the boxes we use. Also… I hope you get my drift.

5. Wire Binding

Another kind of bind that GBC makes which is used frequently, is wire binding. Unlike the black plastic pieces, wire can be threaded through the holes in the books like thread. This means that a person working at a machine can do it rather quickly. I have seen this done at Seton’s printer. Books that are bound with wire binding also have the advantage of lying flat. Unfortunately, unlike staples or glue which can be applied by a machine, it seems that people have to run the wire through the books – making wire binding only a little more expensive. In fact, Seton uses wire binding for our parent-teacher planner. Consequently, we could use this binding.

Two factors have stopped us in the past. First, we do not think it is as attractive as perfect binding, but other people might not agree with us on this. Second, perfect and saddle stitched books stack better than wire bound books. This means they take up less shelf space and less space in a box. Admittedly this is a tiny amount, however when you add 100,000 tiny amounts it’s a not so tiny amount. At the end of the day, we would consider switching to wire if the majority of our customers preferred it over perfect and saddle stitched books.

What’s your favorite Seton book?

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