Sewn binding is one of the oldest forms of bookbinding, and is still the most durable and strongest method. The pages are bound together with pieces of thread and adhered to the spine of the book.
Let’s start by explaining what soft binding means. Soft binding is a type of binding that is used to create paperback books, by attaching the cover – usually paper or cardboard – to the sheets that make up the publication.
Like any type of binding, soft binding does not merely hold the printed pages together, but shapes the publication, ensures its durability and facilitates its use by the reader. Now that we have clarified what a soft-bound book is, we should say that there are different types of soft binding: perfect binding, sewn binding, staple binding and wire binding.
The difference between these types of binding lies in the way the sheets are processed and attached to the cover once printed. In a nutshell:
- When the sheets are glued directly to the cover, we call it perfect binding
- When the sheets are first sewn with thread and then glued to the cover, we call it sewn binding
- When metal staples are used to attach the sheets to the cover, we call it sewn binding
- When metal staples are used to attach the sheets to the cover, it is called staple binding or saddle Sewn binding
- When rings are used to attach the sheets to the cover, it is called Wire-O binding or spiral binding, depending on the type of rings used.
Sewn binding process
When sewing a book, the pages are arranged in groups of 16 to 24 and folded together. The pages are sewn individually along the folds.
The threads pass through each page several times before being tied together. Once a group is finished, it is sewn together with a thread called a book block. An adhesive is used along the edges to seal the spine well. The book cover is then glued to the spine to protect the pages.
To hide the edges of the binding in a decorative way, small strips of cloth, called cinchbands and cinchbands, are often used.
Advantages and disadvantages of sewn binding
- Stitch-bound books lay flat on the table when opened, making them ideal for books with pictures spanning two pages.
- The extremely durable, high-quality binding will hold together for the life of the pages.
- It is designed to withstand wear and tear, making it an excellent choice for books that will be used for a long time, such as textbooks.
- Books with sewn binding are tamper-proof, as you cannot remove a single page without damaging the whole book, making it very popular for delicate documents.
- The pages cannot fall out, as they are sewn in blocks
- Sewn binding is more expensive because it takes longer than other binding methods and requires specialised equipment.
- Custom Sewn binding can add a significant amount of production time to a project’s timeline.
Frequently Asked Questions about sewn binding
On which products is this type of binding used
Thread binding, which is very strong and durable, uses thread to sew the sheets together. However, this method of binding is more complex and therefore more expensive, making it ideal for high-quality publications. Typical products that are stitched with thread are:
- Picture books
- Art books
- Fiction books
When to choose sewn binding?
One of the most frequently asked questions by people who are going to print books, magazines, catalogues and similar products is: Which binding should I choose?
To find the right answer, we have to ask ourselves several questions: What is the purpose of our product, is it going to have a long life span or is it something that is not made to last? If we are thinking about making our book last, sewn binding is definitely one of the best options.
What image do we want to convey with our product? With this type of binding we will undoubtedly achieve a very professional finish that will give the impression of a quality job well done.
What is our budget? Thread binding is much more expensive than other alternatives, so if you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to value other, cheaper types of binding.
What are the alternatives to sewn binding?
Glue binding, or perfect binding, is a much cheaper but no less professional type of binding that offers very good value for money.
Depending on the type of work and its purpose, there is also Wire-O binding and spiral binding, each with its pros and cons.
If you want to learn more about other bookbinding methods, finishes, paper types and information related to book printing, take a look at the different sections of our blog, where you will find articles that will inspire you for your future projects.