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The problem with most recent books is that they use a glue-based binding, but the glue seeps into the spine far enough that it makes laying them flat difficult.

However, if you bind it yourself, you can get the desired behavior pretty easily. I have a summary of my process in the footnote of an older comment[0], but I've been able to get it working with hardcover books, and experimented with using a little bit of thread to reinforce the binding. So far, none of my books have come apart and they all lay flat. The problem with this is that you either have to print your own books or remove the binding from existing ones and then rebind them, which is not especially time consuming but not exactly fast either.

I wonder why this style of binding isn't more common? Is it just too expensive or are there durability concerns?


0. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15877525

I find it oddly satisfying and appropriate that in this forum where people are regularly recommended to just write a small program for themselves that solves their specific computer or technology problem, you reply to someone's problem with book construction with a suggestion and help for actually rebinding the book to solve the problem.

Well done. :)

Exactly, the binding is a function of the publisher and there are binding systems that have the behavior the GP is looking for. The rubber binding you've mentioned is fine but it isn't particularly durable (it is how notepads are bound for example.

There is an excellent resource on binding examples here: https://www.designersinsights.com/designer-resources/choosin... which goes over them. But since book binding is literally several hundred years old there are lots of good references.

Sunnyvale used to have an adult education class on book binding that ran during the summer. I still have my class project from that class somewhere (which was a sewn case binding).

All that said, if the paper is stiff then the only lie flat option is spiral or comb binding.

One binding method I rarely see on these types of tutorials is Smyth sewn binding: https://craftschmaft.com/smyth-sewn-book-binding/

It's got the desirable property of being lay-flat (like perfect binding), but also allows you to make a very strong/durable binding. I'm excited to try it for my next project.

So how long would you expect books bound this way to last? I took some pictures of the ones I've made for reference: https://imgur.com/a/60zP8vn . So far, none of them have come apart but I'm pretty careful with my books.

With cheese cloth and library tape? Many years. If there is just the gum on the binding (no tape or linen binding) then a couple of years with light use, less time with heavier use. One of the things that the binding class taught was that books would be rebound several times in their lifetime. I've rebound at least a half dozen paperbacks that eventually started dropping pages (became detached from the binding).

Expense. I can't share a link, but I had helped a friend self-publish, and she eventually ended up going the paperback route. She had the option to have the book bound in a similar way (sewn, not glued) but her out of pocket expense would have been 4x higher. Last I heard, she had recouped her costs, but there's still a case of books left.

It's still not clear from reading your description how this is better works? You're just gluing together the bottom of a whole bunch of pages?

I took some pictures to demonstrate the final product[0]. I am not an expert bookbinder, but it works well enough and is cheap and easy to do by hand. This is the result of tinkering; presumably someone who knows what they're doing could achieve better results.


0. https://imgur.com/a/60zP8vn

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