Book Printing Lingo: What does “Perfect Binding” mean?

Perfect Binding is a widely used soft cover book binding method. With this binding method, the pages and cover are glued together at the spine with a strong yet flexible thermal glue. The other three sides of the book are then trimmed as needed to give them clean “perfect” edges.

The square spine of a Perfect Bound book

The many soft cover books that you see on the shelves at bookstores are good examples of perfect bound books. They have a square, printed spine and the cover is usually made from paper or cardstock that is heavier than the interior pages.  Plus, the cover is often clear coated to provide durability and improve appearance. In addition to authors, businesses and organizations use the perfect binding method on a variety of printing projects because of its professional appearance and relatively low cost. Perfect binding is commonly used for annual and corporate reports, manuals, catalogs, and thicker product brochures and magazines.

Benefits of Perfect Binding.

The primary benefits of perfect bound books are that they look professional and offer visual appeal, are less expensive to produce than hardcover books, and they stack well. Also, the square spinal edge formed by the perfect binding method allows for the book’s title or other information to be printed on the spine…something the saddle stitch and spiral binding methods do not offer.

In addition, perfect bound books can be printed in Short Runs and are a great candidate for On Demand Printing. This provides tremendous benefits to book authors as well as cost-conscious businesses and organizations. For more information, see our article “The Benefits of Short Run Printing / Print On Demand”

The Perfect Binding Process.

To assemble a perfect bound book, your printer first stacks the interior pages together to form a crisp block. Then the spinal edge of this block is roughed up with blades or abrasives. This exposes more paper fibers and increases the bonding area for the glue. Hot glue is then applied along the roughed up edge of the interior page block. The cover of the book is then wrapped around the block of pages and it adheres to the glue along the spine. After the glue has cured, the three open edges of the book are trimmed as needed to give them nice clean edges.

If you have any questions about Perfect Binding or any other book binding method, give us a call. Book printing is one of our specialties so we can definitely help.

Take care!  Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include full-color printing, all types of softcover books, laminated printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 314-434-5500 or 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services for over 30 years.

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