Book Binding in Illustration

I went to a lecture on book binding which I really loved and had a really great time exploring book binding. We were taught about techniques and how to create different types of book and the different methods to bind them.

When we put together our books for this module, we had the option to bind them ourselves as well as present them in an online format. In our lecture into book binding we were taught a variety of ways that we can bind our work as well as what machines/techniques we would use depending on how our book turns out and the results we want to achieve.

Perfect Binding:

The first type of bind we were shown was perfect binding.


This is the machine used for perfect binding. It uses hot glue and a trimmer in order to trim the pages on the binding side to the same length before gluing them to a cover or to each other, depending on what you want it to do. First off you have to get your pages and cut them down. They should look like a pile of paper and individual sheets, not double pages, so it is important to make sure your content is printed right so when it is bound it still falls in the same place. Once all the pages are accumulated in a pile they are placed in the machine on the far left end, as neatly as possible. It is key to remember when printing your work to leave a border because there is no guarantee the pages will line up and if they need to be trimmed as a result, you do not want to lose some of the wording or images.

Once in the machine, all that is needed to do is check the settings are correct and then line up the cover you have selected to choose. (The cover should be measured beforehand to fit the amount of pages you have and their thickness. It should then be measured so there is enough room for the spine and then the covers to cover the pages of the book. This is important because if the cover is too small or the spine too thin, the book will just fall apart and you will end up not being able to fit all the pages into the cover.)

When the cover is lined up, you can push the button and the machine will trim and then run the pages through hot glue before attaching it to the cover. The book is then perfectly bound. There will be pages that are sticking out so these can be trimmed on the trimmer:


This is what is used to cut the pages down so they are all the same length. Here is the final product from the book we created using the perfect binder and trimmer:

As you can see from the 3rd image the binding on the bottom part of the photo shows some glue. This is how the book is bound and then pressed against the spine of the book. This is what creates the paper back style book seen here.

Hardback covers:

Hardback covers are slightly more laborious. They take longer to create and also are more difficult to construct. You can perfect bind pages together and then put them into a hardback cover, however it is not advised as it can make the pages stubborn and more prone to breaking the spine. In the case of a hardback book, the pages need to be sewn together in groups of three or so and then stitched together before being glued into the book with pva and paper additions.

Creating the hardback cover required you to know the thickness of all the pages together so you know how wide to create the spine. It also requires a strong material to be cut to the size of each page as well as to structure the spine which will attach to the main design you want for the cover. The final product should look like this:

To get the paper to stick down effectively and give a nice crisp edge a special tool is used made of cow bone. This allows you to get a crisp fold and edge, allowing it to be tightly folded as shown above once everything is measured correctly and to the right dimensions. This is the tool:


Hardbacks can have whatever type of cover you want them to have, as long as it is slightly think and durable to an extent. The paper is advised to either be of a certain thickness or use a more material style cover as shown in the image below. Below is also the final product of a hardback book with the paper attached on the inside. This is what a sewn binding would look like:

As you can see the pages fall slightly differently and they sit within the binding of the spine. It is a neat way to create a book and one I actually found really interesting to see being made. It is important to note that with a sewn binding compared to a perfect binding is that there are double pages and no single pages. In a perfect bind, every page is individual but in a sewn bind they come as doubles that are folded and will have a total of 4 sides rather than 2.

Then below is an example of a hardback cover with a perfect bound set of paper in it. A separate piece of paper holds the pages in place and covers up the unsightly folds from the cover.

Simple stitch:

We also look briefly at a simple stitch which is used for thinner books such as a pamphlets or menus. It is only effective at binding for small books, and they don’t tend to have a separate cover. Below is an example of the stitch. In all cases, the thread is special bookbinding thread that is slightly thicker and more durable. It is also threaded in a certain way to avoid knots and an unsightly appearance.

I thought getting to understand book binding was really interesting and fun because it was quite hands on to see all the ways we can make our books ourselves. There were quite a few small techniques we were taught too about how to bind in certain ways, such as the patterns for stitching and how we would do this. We were also shown about printing and text should we choose to have a blank front page with a simple title on it:

The session has made me question what type of binding I would use if I were to do this for my project. I really like the idea of hand-making a book and would really like to be able to do it for my project so I think the session was really beneficial. There are a lot more small details to remember when doing this such as measurements and understanding what it is you are doing, but this is a basics of what each different type of bind is and how it can be used.


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