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The 15 Types of Bookbinding

A photo of various books with different binding styles.
There's nothing quite like cracking the spine on a fresh new book, all of us who grew up reading know exactly what I mean! What you might not know is just how many different types of bookbinding there are, or when it's appropriate to use one rather than the other. 

That's why AlphaGraphics of Buckhead has put together this resource for anyone looking to learn more about the craft of bookbinding. 

What is Bookbinding?

Bookbinding is the process of assembling and securing the pages of a book together. It involves attaching the cover to the spine and other processes such as trimming and adding endpapers. The quality of bookbinding affects how well the book holds up over time and how it looks on shelves. There are a variety of different types of bookbinding methods used today, each with its advantages and disadvantages. In this blog post, we will explore the various binding types and why it’s important for preserving books.

Binding Options
Rivet Binding
Rivet binding is an inexpensive method of binding that works great for small form factors. Swatch cards, information cards, and sample showcase all benefit greatly from the rivet binding method. While rivet binding may not do much in terms of preservation, that’s the entire point. These swatch cards and samples are only needed for a short time while they’re available. They’ll be outdated next season or with the next product release. That’s where the beauty of rivet binding comes into play, it allows you to provide a great presentation at a minimal cost.

Concealed Wire-O Binding (Canadian Binding)
This type of binding (also called Canadian Binding) builds off of the wire-O binding method (which we’ll cover later). The benefits of this printing method allow you to mix and match different papers. You can have different stocks or weights, or do completely different sizes. Or have some pages fold out or use plastic dividers between sections. This type of binding provides a sturdy structure to your book, helping to protect it from external damage, while also being well-priced to be suitable for independent publishers.

Side-Sewn Binding
Side-sewn binding is an interesting choice. One thing to know is that this is NOT a saddle stitch! This binding type has a cotton thread sewn into the book that is visible from the front and back and is about ¼” from the edge. There are two main benefits of this binding type, which depend on your end goal. One benefit is to enhance your final design by including a contrasting or complementing stitching thread. The other benefit is that side-sewn binding can be used to save a perfect bound book from falling apart. In terms of preservation, side-sewn books are durable while maintaining a great design.

Plastic Grip Binding
Plastic Grip Binding is an economical binding option. It consists of a plastic binding bar that you slide the sheets into. This method allows you to quickly swap out the pages as needed. Thanks to the simple nature of plastic grip binding, it’s one of the more inexpensive methods of binding while also allowing you to customize the book at any time. Since there is nothing physically binding the book, and no cover to the pages, this binding method is not recommended for preservation.

Screw & Post Binding
This binding method can be seen as an evolution of rivet binding. While rivet binding works best for smaller works, screw & post binding can be used for full-size books. It’s commonly seen on large menus, photo albums, sample books, and engineering drawings. The reasoning being is that the screws can be unscrewed, and pages swapped out for new or updated content. For preservation, you can include a cover for this binding type, so the interior pages can be protected from damage.

Hardcover Binding
This is the type of binding most people think about when they think of a book. The hardcover brings a professional and polished look to your book. While also protecting it and helping to preserve it for years down the road. There are two different methods for hardcover binding, adhesive or Smyth-sewn. Adhesive hardcover binding is exactly what it sounds like, the pages are glued to the hardcover with a strong book adhesive. While Smyth-sewn binding has pages saddle-stitched in groups and then sewn together into the entire book itself. If you are wanting to create a book that can last years down the road, hardcover binding is your go-to.

A photo of a softcover book with a perfect binding option.
Perfect Binding
Perfect binding is the type of binding you often see on softcover books. But did you know there are three different types of perfect binding? Standard perfect binding is when the spine edges of the pages are roughened up a bit and glued together to the cover. Burst perfect binding is when the pages are grouped, the spines perforated and glued to the cover. Lastly, there is lay-flat perfect binding. This method utilizes cold glue thinly applied to the spine edges of the paper but is not glued to the spine cover itself. Instead the pages “float” over the spine, this is what allows the pages to lay flat when opened. As this binding method is often utilized for softcover books, this is a great method if you have a specific vision in mind, but may not lead to years-long preservation.

Tape Binding
Tape binding may seem similar to perfect binding, but they do have some differences that are worth keeping in mind. Tape binding involves a strip of tape with heat-activated glue. When applied to the spine of the book, the adhesive is heated up and binds the book. This allows you to achieve a perfect-binding style while keeping the costs low. However, tape binding isn’t as strong as perfect binding. In terms of preservation, think of this as one step below perfect binding.

A photo of a booklet with saddle stitching
Saddle Stitching
This binding method is one of the most common methods you’ll see for smaller prints like booklets. It’s one of the methods that tie together integrity and strength, while also being economical for smaller print jobs. In today’s age, You can still have the side stitched, or you can use a machine to staple the edges of the booklet. The stitching or the staple goes all the way through all of the pages, tying them together. This printing method is best used for property booklets, event itineraries, or other single-use cases.

Three-Ring Binding
Three-ring binding is essentially hole-punching the pages of your book or print job, and binding them inside a three-ring binder. This very economical binding method allows you to protect the pages with a hardcover binder and swap out or update pages as needed. This doesn’t offer the best protection for preservation. But that’s okay, as this binding is best used for presentations or reports.

Comb Binding
Comb binding is a binding method that can seem similar to coil binding (which we’ll cover in a second), but there are some key differences between the two. Both are economical methods of binding a book or booklet, and both allow the booklet to lay flat on a table or surface. However, comb binding does not allow the book to open 360 degrees, meaning the covers can’t touch. For preservation, this can be a great option if your book is referenced somewhat often, but is usually kept in a safe place.

A photo of a calendar with coil binding
Coil Binding
The sister to comb binding, coil binding offers many similarities, but does have one main difference. Coil binding will allow the book to open a full 360 degrees. Meaning the covers can touch and the book can be held in one hand much easier. In terms of preservation, they’re both essentially the same. Coil binding is great if your book is used somewhat often (think cookbooks and journals), but is usually kept in a safe place.

Wire-O Binding
Wire-O Binding can have many names including double-o binding or twin-loop binding. Ultimately, this binding method uses metal wires arranged in double-loop patterns to hold the book together. This method allows the books to lay flat and the sheets to turn 360 degrees. Metal rings can come in a variety of colors and offer a lot of strength and durability for long-term use. That’s why you’ll see this binding method used a lot for calendars, notebooks, or sketchbooks. The stability and structure of wire-O binding work great for ensuring the prints can be durable, but preservation is not the end goal.

Side Stitching
Side stitching can be considered an old-school binding technique. It was used primarily for magazines and booklets, allowing for more pages than saddle stitching. However, it doesn’t allow the book to lay flat or open fully. This is still a great option if you are wanting to go for a more traditional magazine or booklet feel, while also wanting to accommodate a lot of pages. Side-stitch binding isn’t used much for preservation (more modern solutions are preferred)

Corner Stapling
This is the type of binding you see practically every day, a cornerstone of the everyday office. This binding method is most commonly used for one-time use reports, presentations, letters, and in-office materials. This is going to be the most economical option outside of not binding the papers at all! While preservation is not the main goal for corner stapling, it does help you to keep everything protected and together.

Want to Bind Your Book?
Have a book you’re wanting to bind? AlphaGraphics of Buckhead can help you out no matter what your project is. From cookbooks, softcover books, hardcover books, company reports, calendars, notebooks, and more. As you can see there are myriad ways that your project can be bound, and we’ll work with you to find an option that meets your goals. Ensuring to preserve your book while also staying economical to fit within your budget. 

Have you Heard about our New Department, agCraft?
agCraft is the name of our new craft department. Focused on fully custom print jobs that allow you to stretch your imagination and create whatever you want. Our craft department offers services such as:
  • Letterpress printing
  • Offset printing
  • Foil stamping
  • Product packaging
  • Embossing/debossing
  • Die cutting
  • Custom envelopes
  • Large format printing
  • Duplexing
Have something in mind but not sure where to start? Visit our agCraft page here to learn more and reach out to us for a consultation.

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