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Book Bindings: Understanding the Different Types

by Matt Murray

Book bindings can make or break the reading experience. Each type of binding has its advantages, as well as its disadvantages.

Some readers will only choose paperbacks and some will only read leather-bound books. Understanding different types of book bindings can give you a whole new appreciation for them all. While you may still prefer your hardcover because it protects the pages better, perhaps knowing about an unbound book will allow you a bit more freedom when choosing.

Whether you're a book hoarder or a university student with a serious textbook collection, here are some book bindings and why they could be great:

Case Binding

For a durable cover that lies flat when the book is opened, choose case binding. This is basically hardcover books, and helps to keep the pages inside protected from the weather and spill accidents.

There are two main advantages to hardcover binding. The first is that it gives a great impression with its weightiness and ability to lie flat on a surface. It can also be worth a lot more when re-selling because of the protective quality of the cover.

However, the weightiness can also cause increased shipping cost, as well as being heavy when carrying it around a university all day. Furthermore, it costs a lot more to bind books using this method, since it uses more material and parts of the binding process are done by hand.

Loose Leaf

Not quite a binding technique, but loose leaf books are becoming more popular. To avoid the heavy weight of a case bound textbook, any students choose loose leaf textbooks.

If you like to buy and sell textbooks each year, consider getting loose leaf textbooks with serial numbers. They cost less than bound textbooks, and you get to choose your own cover when you choose a binder file for the pages.

Additionally, you don't need to carry an entire textbook, but rather just the pages you need for that particular day. This means your bag should be lighter and put less strain on you. Be sure to keep track of your chapters, though, as they are easier to lose this way.

Perfect Binding

This is a soft cover bind and it is very similar to case binding. It is a lower quality cover, but more economical. It is called perfect binding because the page edges line up with the edges of the cover.

This kind of binding leads to lighter books and is cheaper to make. Soft cover books are a cheaper than hardcover books. If looked after well, you can still get a high price on re-sale, but it is still not as hard-wearing as case binding.

Further, these books don't lie flat because of the way they are glued together. If you try push the book flat, you may undo the glue and pages might start to fall out. They also require more careful handling if you want to keep them in good condition.

Saddle stitch

For very thin books or books used in the short-term, this is a simple and economical solution. In this kind of binding, books are stapled or stitched in the middle as a form of binding.

The advantages here are quite numerous. This is a highly economical kind of binding, especially for short-term use books. It can be done at high speed and high volume, making it suitable for commercial print. Additionally, these books also lay flat, for the most part.

However, the pages may not always line up, and this kind of binding is less durable. It is usually done with a light card cover, meaning the inner pages have no protection. It is also possible that the staples or stitching may come undone easily.

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