Perfect Bound Books FAQ

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What is Perfect Binding?

Perfect Binding, commonly called “Soft Cover” or “Paperback” binding, is a binding method where the inside pages are stacked on top of each other and the cover is wrapped around and glued in place. It is called Perfect Binding because the books are trimmed on the 3 non-spine edges after binding, producing a “perfect” finish as the pages all line up and the book has sharp square corners.

Other telltale features of this binding method are the square spine that is often printed on, and the “hinges” on the front and back covers.

These hinges are created because the cover is not only glued on the face of the spine but on the front and back cover as well. The usual glue area is .25” from the edge of the spine to make sure the cover and pages stay secure.

What is the minimum page count for Perfect Binding?

The minimum page count is generally 48 inside pages, however, the thickness of the paper does have an impact. The true minimum is not a certain number of pages, but the overall thickness of the finished piece. Perfect binding requires the book to be a minimum of .125” thick otherwise the pages might not glue properly and could fall out. Therefore if a thicker paper is chosen, 44 or 40 pages might be possible, whereas if a thinner paper is desired, 52 or 56 pages might be needed to get up to the required thickness.

What is the maximum page count possible?

Page counts up to 400 pages can be done with Perfect Binding, but extra caution is needed for such high numbers of pages. This is due to the structure of the binding and the fact that the book should not be opened too far or there is a risk of breaking the spine. Therefore a book with smaller dimensions might not have enough space for sufficient margins to keep the content far enough away from the spine gutter.

If a thick book is desired and/or the application requires the book to open wide and lay flat on a table, there is a specific type of perfect binding called “lay flat” binding that, as the name suggests, would allow this without risking the spine breaking. This is not the standard for perfect binding as there are additional operations required, so if this is needed then a custom estimate would be required.

Does Perfect Binding allow for printing on the spine?

Perfect Binding is the only binding method, aside from Hardcover (Case) Binding, that allows for printing on the spine and therefore is very popular for publications that will be stored on shelves, such as novels, magazines, catalogs, or manuals. It is also useful if there is a desire for artwork on the spine to add an extra touch.

Perfect Binding is usually the preferred option for these applications as Hardcover (Case) Binding is much more expensive, as unless the quantity is in the thousands (say 5000+), much of the work is still done by hand or mostly by hand.

What are the margins required when designing files for Perfect Binding?

The general margins for booklets is a minimum of .25” of 1/4” on all edges, however, an additional margin of .25” or 1/4” should be allowed on the spine edge (for a total of .5” or 1/2”). This includes space for the glue itself as well as margin to ensure that no content “falls” into the spine and becomes difficult to read or obscured.

What are the advantages of Perfect Binding?

  • It allows for printing on the spine, ideal for book titles, issue numbers, seasons, etc
  • It has a very clean, professional finish due to the final trim
  • Because the books are so square, they stack very well
  • It allows for a wide range in page counts
  • While Perfect Binding does cost more than other binding methods, it is still a fairly economical binding method for a very professional finish
  • This binding method works for a wide range of applications, such as product catalogs, magazines, manuals, company profiles, or novels, among others