Perfect binding

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Perfect binding
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Perfect binding is the most widely used binding method for paperback books, and in general it is linked in the buyer's perception to cheapness and value for money[1]. This is the most economical binding style where the pages are affixed together along the spine and the one-piece cover wraps around the entire outer side of the text[2].


Perfect is not an attribute or qualitative name, but a description of the binding method. This final way to achieve commercial viability of single sheet binds was developed at the beginning of the 20th century. For centuries, binders have tried to bind single sheets without sewing by using one unsuccessful method after another. Perfect binding became fashionable as the only method of binding catalogues or telephone books. Furthermore, when the paper book was reborn in the 1930s, it was considered the most economical and satisfactory method of binding for cheap books. However, despite its name, this method was far from perfect[3].

Perfect binding process

The following is the process of perfect binding[4]:

  • The signatures are compiled and formed into a book block. The spines are notched or cut away and glue is applied.
  • A cover is folded, scored, and wrapped around the pages. The adhesive is then cured by heat. The quality of the adhesive will determine how durable this binding is.
  • Finally, the front edge is trimmed. The edge of the spine is compressed. Indeed, the pinch acts as a feather to rotate the sides, which gives space for the gutter and prevents weakening of the spine.

For larger books such as textbooks, the spine is reinforced by sticking a strip of fabric to the back of the collected signatures before fastening a hard cover[5].

Considering that the pages are glued together at the spine, perfect bind books do not open completely. If a viewer forces them to open, the spine may break. Over time, the adhesive will dry out and the binding will become brittle, so that eventually the pages will start to fall out. On the other hand, it is very important to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect binding. All types of binding impose certain restrictions on what can be done with a book. Given that we are dealing with physical materials that change over time, any type of binding can be problematic[6].


  1. Bullock. A, (2012)
  2. Lyons. G, (2007)
  3. Banister. M, (2012)
  4. Ambrose. G, Harris. P, (2014)
  5. McCue. C, (2013)
  6. Colberg. J, (2016)


Author: Karolina Stankiewicz