Flexo binding, or something between hard and soft

Flexo binding, or something between hard and soft

The flexo type of binding, despite being a relatively new concept, is hardly a novelty on the printing market. Thanks to a unique combination of the advantages of hard and soft cover binding it has found a permanent place on the bookshelves.
What exactly is a flexo bound book and what is so special about it?

Hard or soft?

Is flexo binding a kind of hardcover binding? Or is it more like a paperback? A question about flexo binding asked on an Internet forum was once answered that it is ‘harder than a softcover but softer than a hardcover’. Perhaps this definition is far from being perfect, but it is still surprisingly apt.
To gain a better insight we need to look into the design of a flexo bound book.


Before moving on to flexo binding, let us have a quick review of the structure of a hard cover.
It consists of a casewrap, cardboard base cases and a spine board. The casewrap is folded round the cardboard parts and glued to them. The base cases are invisible in a finished book because they are covered by end paper which joins the block with the case.

hard cover

As regards flexo binding, things look very similar except for one detail: the case has no spine board or base cases. Therefore the cover is essentially a casewrap, which however is not folded round any paper boards but round itself. Another feature similar to a hardcover is the way the block is attached to the covers. In both cases end paper is used for this purpose. On the other hand, flexo binding is similar to softcover binding because the cover consists of a single sheet and is not stiff.

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The material used is not without significance either. We have a reason not to use the word ‘cardboard’ in this blog entry. Although as a matter of fact covers are usually made of high-grammage paperboard, publishers often go for synthetic materials.
The main aspect taken into account when choosing cover material for flexo binding is its strength. As a result, the cover is much more robust than in conventional softcover binding.
The block of a flexo bound book can be both thread sewn or perfect bound.

What is all this for?

What is the point of such an unconventional design? Well, to get the desirable result of combined benefits. Flexo binding ensures that covers are lighter and more flexible than in the case of hardcover binding, at the same time making the book generally more durable than a soft-covered one. Moreover, flexo-bound books provide good opening angles. This type of binding will be perfect wherever these characteristics are especially welcome, e.g. in tour guides or dictionaries. It is not unusual to find the world bestselling book – the Bible – featuring this type of binding.

If you care for functionality, or user-friendliness, of a book and not for it being exclusive, flexo binding is an ideal solution for really thick volumes. More and more often publishers decide to apply it to fiction; after all we do not read books only at home. We appreciate if the book can be effortlessly carried around in the handbag or backpack without worrying it gets damaged in the course of travelling.

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We hope that once you have read today’s entry the concept of flexo binding seems less confusing. If you consider using flexo binding in your upcoming publication but still have any doubts, our account managers and customer service personnel are always there to help and provide advice.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at Totem.com.pl. She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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