Sunday, March 18, 2012

Home book binding for beginners

Homemade books are often sewn, as are hardback books. Hardback books published at a printing house are often bound by the use of thread and glue as the weight of the book and material of the cover demand greater adhesion between the two. If you are making your own book at home it is likely you will sew it no matter the size, weight or cover type as this type of binding can be produced by anyone competent with a needle. Gluing a book at home can be messy and difficult for those not used to more industrial type glues.

Paperbacks are bound by pressing the cut edges of the pages into a thick layer of glue and then wrapping the two page cover and spine around the wedge of paper. It is then often heat and/or pressure treated to strengthen the bond. Finally, the edges are sanded or cut back so that the edges of the book are smooth to the touch rather than rough. You will find bindings where some of these stages are skipped, mostly the last one.

Watch this if you want to bind the paperback way at home:

There are several different ways you can sew your book together, just as there are several different ways you can sew anything. Its all in the stitching and elaborateness.

Here is a basic pattern to get you started. You might need to stare at a while to decode it but it is essentially running stitch looped through at the ends and brought up or down a level. Be careful you catch each sheaf of paper as you run the thread past them or your binding will come loose and your book will fall apart because it can't support its own weight.

Cover, spine, glue, stitching, paper folds, sizing, evenness and text layout have to be kept in mind during each stage of binding. Be mindful not to cut too much off the edge of your page or you might remove text with the excess. Be careful to leave extra room in the margins for binding to be possible without text being lost into the bind. Stitch carefully and follow through each step or your book will fall apart. Choose a cover of the right thickness, weight and strength for the type of book you are making. If pages are printed on large sheets of paper to be folded rather than single or double-sided cut pages you will need to be mindful of your layout so that the text runs in order. Keep in mind that the binding can not only be sewn or glued to the spine alone but to the endpapers of your book, increasing the strength of the bind.

Here is a general idea of what is involved in creating a book. Endpapers are usually of thicker and stronger paper. Glue is of high strength. Bind neat and tight (not too tight). The cover needs to have some resistance to it, whether it is made for a paperback or a hardback, as the cover and spine bear the brunt of your reading habits (dog-earring is not the worst you can do to a book).

Make sure the hard outer spine of a hardback pushes the inner spine and sewing outwards so that the whole book doesn't lend its weight to a single section of it. If the spine isn't strong enough the book may crack in half. You may also find this happening with paperbacks as the glue toughens with age but there is little that can be done to prevent this when making a paperback. The difference between a paperback and a hardback, in terms of longevity, is that the hardback is made to last while the paperback is made for short term use.

Remember the mention of using paper that require folding? There are a series of terms for this but for the home bookmaker all you need to know is that if you print 8 pages of your book over a sheet of paper, double-siding, then you will have to make sure your text is placed in the correct order so that when the paper is folded and cut into the pages you will read then they appear in the correct order. This is the way it is done by printing houses but most at home will only print 4 pages of text over a single sheet, double-siding, and fold that sheet in two. This still requires some awareness and layout so be careful when designing and printing to lay out the pages of text correctly.

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