The Art of Book Binding

 In Blog Posts

Have you ever looked at a painting and thought “Wow, that’s just some plain paint strokes but look at the different shade layers, and whoa, are those different textures too?” If you have, congratulations! You will now understand the art of bookbinding! Bookbinding is an art form that requires technical skill and creative focus to deliver a beautiful yet durable product. What constitutes as a beautiful design? Simplicity is the key to any great design, because simplicity is the fine line between elegance and plainness.

Did you know that China invented one of the earliest forms of book binding called “butterfly binding” during the Song Dynasty (approx. 1000 C.E.)? The Chinese have always had a great appreciation for books, because they combine both beauty and wisdom (calligraphy and knowledge).  They plan everything from the cover, to the paper, to the binding techniques to create simplistic yet harmonious designs that complement the contents of the books.

“Dang, I didn’t know so much goes into creating a book!” Oh I know, but don’t worry; that’s why I’m here to give you insights into the different binding techniques that are out there, so be still your heart (you’re welcome). Here is a fun challenge: after you have gobbled up the delicious new knowledge on book binding techniques, create your own custom journal and put those new design skills to the test! Are you curious to see what you can create? So are we! Send us your designs for a quote and we will get our suppliers in China to whip out a custom notebook or journal in no time.  I mean, the Chinese already have thousands of years of experience under their belt, so yeah; I think you should be excited because they are pretty over qualified.


Just before we dive in to the different techniques, let me teach you an industry word so you can sound extra professional when you place your next order: Signature.

No, this is not the same signature as when you sign away your soul to some 5-year cell phone plan. Signature in this context just means a group of bi-folios or sheets of paper that are stacked together and folded in half.

Great, remember that. Now, let us move on.

Perfect Binding

This is the most common method used in the type of books you read, like “Harry Potter” and “A Song of Ice and Fire”. To clarify, I do not mean the technique is solely reserved for binding great epics (although it should be because they’re “perfect”); I simply meant that its most commonly used to bind paperbacks and softcover books. Catalogues and manuals use this technique as well!

Basic how to: fold the pages into their signatures (sections) and glue a heavier printed wrap-around spine the spine with a strong adhesive. This technique is usually reserved for lighter books because it’s not necessarily the sturdiest method of binding.


Section Sewn

Now THIS is the most secure binding method!

Basic how to: fold the pages into signatures then sew them together with other signatures to form a book block. Glue the binding edge of the book block with linen to give it some extra hold. Finish off by taking the book block and gluing it to the endpapers (glued onto the inside of the spine and cover). Ta-dah!


Wire (Wire-o) Binding/ Coil (Spiral) Binding

This type of binding is a throwback to those fond memories of high school presentations and PowerPoint support materials.

Basic how to: take your papers and punch some holes through them using a special hole punch, then put some spirally stuff through it to hold it all together. This is the easiest technique with the right tools.

Coptic Binding

Coptic binding is one of the oldest techniques practiced since the ancient Egyptian times, making them a crowd favourite with the hipsters. This form of binding does not use any adhesives.

Basic how to: sew each signature through their folds, attached to another one, then repeat until the last signature. Sew again through two loose covered boards (or mounted on end papers) with some cool stitching patter across the spine. You can get really creative with this you guys!

Or if you want to go wild

Japanese Coptic Binding (Hand-Made)

This is a variation of the regular Coptic binding technique. This method is very useful for binding single sheets of paper; you can have a soft back or a hard back. The decorative sewing is what makes it distinct and unique. Use this method for large or landscape format books, it requires a large margin so be aware. Again, you can get super creative with this!

Basic how to: master Coptic binding, then go on Pinterest for ideas and show off your work!

Once you master that, you can try these!


Now that I’ve presented you with some of the basics of book binding, what do you think? Are you overwhelmed by the endless combinations that exist in creating your new product? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Like I said, send us your designs and we’ll work with our paper and book masters in China to help you create a product that’s truly unique to you.

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