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Bindery Visit


Book Binding Course

It was a sunny Wednesday morning when a group of guinea pigs / production professionals of mixed experience, set off for a book bindery in North London.

This was to be a trial run of a new book binding course before the first event took place a week later for the book publisher Phaidon. 

Having worked in production for only around a year, I was intrigued to finally see the full process of how a book is bound together, all the different types of binding that are available and when to use what!

We started off the day talking about wire stitching- why you would use it, the limitations and how the process is completed. I learnt a lot about the how the files need to be set up to avoid creep and disappointment (never a good combination). 

Perfect binding

The Perfect binding process is very interesting- we have all seen it in our favourite novels and it was great to find out how they actually construct it. A relatively simple process but the nonetheless there are tricks of the trade that you would never think about. We talked about how you can make a paperback a high end book and achieve this relatively cheaply - some really good tips and tricks here! 


The paperback books took us onto the surprisingly interesting subject of glues. The paperback book generally uses hot melt glue which is heated to 160 degrees C when they apply it. However the downfall of this glue is that it can reactivate at 40 degrees which explains why our summer reads can fall apart on the sun lounger in hot climates. 

PUR binding

PUR binding to the rescue! It was developed to react with the cellulose in the paper and takes a whopping 6 hours to cure but is immensely strong, cheaper than sewing and doesn't reactivate as you recline by the pool. 

The bindery

The day was really interesting - we were taken through all the bindery stages in detail and shown how all the huge bits of machinery actually work and it was great to see how, and consequently why, things go wrong. It makes such a difference to see it all happening in front of you and understand what is and what isn't, possible. 

Seeing around the bindery you are instantly reminded of how many other binding styles there are other than the usual paperback and hardback suspects. The bindery was full of unusual products – books with lots of different paper stocks, different colour threads, very thin singer sewn hardbacks, flexibinding, Ota binding and others. It left us all full of inspiration again about what a beautiful thing a simple book can be. 

It was pretty hot in the bindery, so tea afterwards was very welcome. On the whole I was amazed at how fascinating the day turned out to be. It wasn't just being walked through a factory, there were detailed descriptions and freedom to get involved and ask questions in a totally relaxed environment - Peter is a great trainer and witty with it!

I left armed with a ton of new terminology which I had never heard before... crash, wicking, cockling... and a far greater understanding of the process than I had ever hoped to achieve. 

Heather Jennings, Imago UK

The course was run in earnest a week later for a group from the publisher Phaidon and they were thrilled with the results. 

If you are interested in coming on our next course which is planned for 30th October 2014 you can find out more about the content on our binding course page or get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.