Softcover binding – a guide to different types of binding (part 2)

Softcover binding – a guide to different types of binding (part 2)

The earlier instalment of this guide focused on hardcover binding. The time has come then to talk about softcover binding. As not to have to repeat what binding actually is, we would heartily recommend that you read part 1 of this series first, and we will get down to business afterwards.

Softcover binding – you will not get flaps anywhere else!

Softcovers are incomparably simpler in their design than hardcovers. All there is to it is a single printed sheet of cardboard designed to protect the block of your book. The book block is glued directly to the cover along the spine. As you can easily guess, there are no end papers involved here. However, softcover binding can give you something that is impossible to incorporate in hardcover binding. We are talking about flaps that give us additional space on the cover. This is the place for printing a summary of the book’s content, a profile of the author, or new book releases. Additionally, flaps make books slightly more resilient to rough handling by their readers. They reinforce the cover, which means that there is less chance of the corners becoming dog-eared or split.

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Softcover thread sewn

As the name suggests, this a type of binding where the cover is made of cardboard, and the signatures within the book block are bound with thread. This type of binding provides durability and an aesthetically pleasing look, where the key advantages are a light and flexible cover and a hard-wearing book block. It will work well with books that are revisited regularly. Textbooks are the best proof that the solutions considered to be more refined (hardcover binding in our case) do not always work. By choosing softcover binding, a publisher provides students with a durable product designed to survive many a school year. Additionally, you will not be adding extra weight to the students’ overly stressed back, thus avoiding extra weight on his own shoulders. Still, softcover thread sewn binding is not reserved for textbooks only. It is a solution that will work great with scholarly publications, fiction, travel guidebooks and even product catalogues.

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Softcover perfect bound

Softcover perfect bound publications have a cardboard cover and a book block held together with glue. Due to its characteristic features, this is an extremely popular type of binding. It is durable, high-quality, and simple and inexpensive to produce. Thus, softcover perfect binding is simply ideal for mass production. It works well with fiction, travel guidebooks, and scholarly publications. Plus, the softcover gives you the option to add cover flaps, and, needless to say, there is a wide range of enhancements that can be applied too.

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Softcover saddle stitched

As much as the term “softcover saddle stitched” might sound mysterious, try and picture your traditional school exercise book to give you an idea of what we are talking about. The book block here is made up of sheets of paper gathered together to form a signature. They are then bound along the spine with each other and the cover at the same time. Just the way it is done with school exercise books. Due to the straightforward technological process, the cost of production is low. Which consequently gives you an inexpensive type of binding. The book binding industry considers it to be the least durable, though.

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“Cheap, of moderate durability, designed for short-term use” – you would be forgiven for thinking that opting for saddle stitched binding means you will be getting a shoddy product. In reality, you should not consider the above to be weaknesses. They are simply the product’s qualities. At the end of the day, if what you are after is a light, practical and an inexpensive product, then this is the perfect solution for you. It is not the case here that your publication will fall apart in your hands after you have leafed through it only a handful of times. Actually, you do not even have to look far for evidence. After all, all of us used to have school exercise books, which, despite the brutal every-day treatment, survived the school year with us and came in handy for your exam revisions. Saddle stitching is simply less durable than other types of binding. Additionally, what requires greater degree of book binding skill, may not always be suitable for the publication you have in mind.

Imagine that what you would like to print is a pilgrim’s songbook to be used by pilgrims during their pilgrimage. You cannot exactly go for hardcover binding as it is relatively heavy. On top of that, the unbendable cover would make it difficult to stuff the book into, for instance, a pocket. Whereas, because of the low production cost involved with saddle stitched binding, you do not have to worry particularly about someone losing or damaging their copy (which is sure to happen). And, if the songbook is held with only one hand, there is no spine there to break. When you think about this particular application, softcover saddle stitched binding is way ahead of other (seen as more sophisticated) types of binding.

Are the types of softcover binding referred to above and the hardcover bindings discussed in our earlier post all there is available on the book binding market? Absolutely not. There are more types of binding out there than are dreamt of in your philosophy, while being the every-day occurrence for book binders. We will dedicate part 3 of this series to them. If you need specific parameters, go to “Our services” for all the information required. Naturally, you can also get in touch with our customer advisors that will be happy to answer all the questions you may have.

lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at 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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