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10 Frequently Asked Questions about Perfect Binding

A stack of four books with Perfect Binding

1. Why is it called Perfect Binding?

The perfect binding process involves gluing a stack of printed pages within a durable wraparound cover. Once the glue cures, the books are trimmed along the three open sides to create crisp and straight edges that look "perfect." This precise trimming is where perfect binding gets its name.

2. What are the benefits of Perfect Binding?

Perfect bound books are durable and long-lasting, making this binding method an ideal choice for many types of book projects. In addition, perfect bound books have a very professional appearance. Perfect bound books also lie perfectly flat and stack well on a table or shelf. Furthermore, the perfect binding method is suitable for short, medium, or long production runs.

An open Perfect Bound book lying on a stack of four closed Perfect Bound books

3. Will the Perfect Binding method work for every book project?

The perfect binding method works well for the majority of book projects except those that have very low pages counts. If the page count is too low, there will not be enough surface area for the glue to adhere to the edge of the page stack where it meets the cover. This is crucially important because the glue used for perfect binding needs at least .125" (1/8") of surface area to bond effectively.

4. Is Perfect Binding expensive?

Not at all. Perfect binding is extremely affordable. In fact, one of the reasons perfect binding has such widespread popularity is because it offers a low cost alternative to hardcover binding. Perfect binding does cost a little more than saddle stitch binding but this is because the perfect binding process involves more production steps. The professional appearance and durability of perfect binding makes it a tremendous value.

5. What is the minimum page count for Perfect Binding?

The answer to this question actually varies. Perfect bound books need a spine width of at least .125" for the adhesive to bond the pages and cover securely. This means there is not an absolute minimum number of pages because if the pages are made from a heavier stock, less pages will be needed to reach the .125" threshold…and if the pages are made from a lighter stock, more pages will be needed to reach .125".

For example, one sheet of 50# offset or 20# bond paper measures around .004" in thickness. If we divide .125" by .004", the result is 31 sheets. Since each sheet has two sides and each side of the sheet counts as one page, this means we'll need at least 62 pages in a book made with 50# offset or 20# bond in order to use the perfect binding method. If the book has less than 62 pages, a thicker paper stock should be used to reach the minimum .125" thickness or a different binding style (such as saddle stitch or spiral coil) should be considered.

Using a similar example with a heavier stock, one sheet of 80# offset or 32# bond paper measures about .006" in thickness. If we divide .125" by .006", the result is 21 sheets…which translates to 42 pages. So, a book made with paper sheets measuring .006" in thickness will need to have at least 42 pages to be perfect bound.

6. What is the maximum page count for Perfect Binding?

It depends on the production equipment being used, but most perfect bound books can be made up to a maximum thickness of around 2 inches. Just like in the answer to question #5 above, how many pages this actually equates to is based on the thickness of the paper stock.

Using the same paper types in the answer to question #5, we know 50# offset paper and 20# bond paper both have a thickness of .004". Dividing 2" by .004" equals 500 sheets. Because each side of a sheet counts as one page, this translates to a maximum of 1,000 pages for a perfect bound book made with 50# offset or 20# bond.

Similarly, 80# offset paper and 32# bond paper both have a thickness of .006". Dividing 2" by .006" equals 333 sheets. This translates to a maximum of 666 pages for 80# offset or 32# bond.

As you can see, the maximum page count varies depending on the thickness (caliper) of the paper stock being used for the book. By the way, if the overall thickness of a book's pages happens to greatly exceed 2", a common solution is to divide the book into two or more volumes so each can be bound individually.

7. Can Perfect Bound books have text printed on the spine?

A major advantage perfect binding has over other softcover binding methods is that this method produces a flat spine. This allows for text to be printed on the spine, such as the title of the book, name of the author, volume number, or similar identifiers. That said, it is important to keep in mind that perfect bound books usually need a spine width of at least .25" (1/4") to be printed with text that is large enough to be read clearly.

8. What type of glue is used for Perfect Binding?

In the book printing industry, there are currently two primary types of adhesive being used for perfect binding - Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Polyurethane Reactive (PUR). EVA glue is considered to be the traditional binding adhesive because it has been around longer. However, PUR glue has been growing in popularity over the past few decades. This is because PUR is superior to EVA in almost every regard - stronger adhesion, greater flexibility, and better performance in extreme temperatures.

Related Article: The Benefits of PUR Binding

9. What types of projects are typically Perfect Bound?

Almost any type of multi-page document can be bound with the perfect binding method. This includes a variety of books and publications such as manuals, catalogs, directories, handbooks, workbooks, journals, magazines, thicker comic books, graphic novels, biographies, corporate reports, and any other bound document that is more than 1/8" in thickness.

A stack of Perfect Bound books

10. Does Perfect Binding go by any other names?

Perfect Binding is sometimes referred to using a generic name like paperback binding or softcover binding. Also, because a bonding agent is used in the construction of these books, perfect binding is occasionally called adhesive binding or glue binding.

Color Vision specializes in Custom Printed Books

Custom Book Printing is one of Color Vision's specialties. So whether you have a need for perfect binding or another softcover binding style, we have the expertise and affordability you are seeking. Just give us a call at 800-543-6299 when you're ready to discuss your project.

If you know your specs and want to receive a quotation by email, simply fill out our Quote Request form. By the way, Color Vision produces all perfect bound books using PUR adhesive because it has superior adhesion and flexibility. As always, we look forward to assisting with your next book project!

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