Books come out in all kinds of popular formats. But which one is going to work best for the self published book you’re working on? Even if you’re still in the earlier stages of writing, being generally aware of the book binding options for books out there can help you plan the finished product better.
Different Binding Options for Books
While fiction books offer more flexibility, if you’re creating a self help book, a cookbook, a children’s book, or anything else that needs special formatting then you’ll need to be aware of the sizing and limitations of your binding type.
Here are the most popular book binding options for books, and some things you should take into consideration when choosing the best one for you.
Case or hardcover binding
This is probably the classiest option for binding almost any self published book. Hardcover books look great on the shelf, and they also are more durable than their softer counterparts.
Case bound books are usually assembled by stitching sections together and gluing those sections to the spine. The pages will lay flat on a table when opened.
One downside to this option is it’s usually the most expensive choice. They’re also heavier than other binding options for books. Extra weight means they not only cost more to ship, but can even be difficult for some people to hold and read.
- Books aimed at collectors
- A book you want to display, take on author tours, etc
- Children’s books
- Photo books
Perfect, thermal, or paperback binding
Perfect binding is used for almost all your standard paperback books. Everything from trade paperbacks to harlequins are created this way.
Paperbacks are actually bound similar to hardcover books. The main difference is with gluing the pages together. While hardcover books often have pages that are stitched together in sections, soft covered books are all glued together.
A variation on glue, known as thermal binding, uses heat. All the pages are glued into the spine, then heat is applied to set the glue and hold everything together.
The quality of the book itself also differs. Since the front and back cover are made of cardstock (which is usually coated or laminated in some way), perfect bound books are less durable than their hard backed counterparts.
While they don’t lay flat, paperbacks are usually easier for people to handle than hardcovers. They’re lighter and usually smaller in size. Since it’s a lower quality product, perfect binding is also cheaper.
- Adult, YA, and middle grade fiction
- Romance including Harlequin sizes
- Books you want to print at a moderate quality and lower cost
- Graphic novels
Saddle stitch or stapled binding
If you’ve ever picked up a book and seen staples on the inside, that’s saddle stitching. It’s often used for smaller, lightweight books or periodicals that aren’t meant for long term use.
Saddle stitching is probably the least expensive binding option for books. Unfortunately, you can’t bind a full sized book with this method. It has a maximum of 92 pages, and even that is pushing it as far as quality is concerned.
Speaking of, this is also the least durable option. Pages can fall out of the book easier, especially in the center. The cover is also lower quality than other types of books.
- Budget priced children’s books
- Brochures and ‘mini’ books
- Company documents
- Comic books
A staple of toddler libraries, board books have an important place in the publishing world. They feature rounded corners and easy to turn pages aimed at the youngest readers.
Board books aren’t actually bound at all. Instead, they’re created by glueing each set of 2 pages onto blank posterboard. Then a laminated finish is added for durability. Usually board books can hold up to all the punishment young kids can throw at them, although they will eventually wear around the edges where the board isn’t sealed.
Because of how carefully they’re bound, board books can be expensive to produce. Fewer self publishing houses work with them than other styles, too.
- Books aimed at young children
- Books aimed at adults, but parody a children’s style
Spiral binding is pretty uncommon in the retail side of self publishing. Most stores and distributors don’t carry spiral bound fiction books because they usually look less polished than other binding types.
Still, spiral bound books do have their place. They’re especially popular when creating something that needs to lay flat. It’s also a quick and relatively inexpensive way to bind a book that you’re creating for personal use.
- Photo books
- Workbooks or textbooks
Cloth or leather binding for books
Cloth and leather bound books used to be more popular, but other binding options for books have taken their place.
Many self published book printers don’t even offer these binding options. And when they do, they’re usually quite costly. They also take longer to produce than other binding options.
Cloth and leather bound books are assembled almost the same way as case (hardcover) bound books. The cloth or leather is wrapped around the board cover before the pages are glued inside.
You can’t print onto the cloth or leather, but most places will either emboss the material or use foil to add words and details. Most authors opt to add a book jacket or cardboard sleeve to the book that can be removed.
While it might be more difficult and expensive than other book binding options, cloth and leather bound books really make your work stand out in the bookstore or on a library shelf. It’s also important to note that you can use artificial leather for a vegan friendly alternative that still looks great.
- Collectors items
- Niche books
- Notebooks and agendas
- Reference material and guides
- Getting a vintage look
What is library binding?
Ever wonder how library books hold up so well compared to the paperbacks on your shelf? There’s actually a special binding specifically for library books called library binding.
These books are sold almost exclusively to libraries through their own distribution channels. Usually it involves sewing the pages together, similar to a hardcover book, and reinforcing the spine. Overall they’re made from higher quality materials.
Library bound books are more expensive to produce and for the libraries to buy, but they hold up for long term use.
You can publish books with different binding options
Printing your self published book in one format doesn’t immediately lock you into only offering that forever. In fact, it’s commonplace for authors to release a new book first in hardcover, then later in paperback at a lower cost.
If you’re publishing your first book, you might want to experiment with different binding options for books before making your final decision.