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Bookbinding 101: The History and Meaning

Posted by Alan J. Duro on Jul 14, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Bookbinding Basics: Then and Now

We've all heard the term, but what exactly is bookbinding? Let's take a good look at the history and meaning of this art:book binding

In the Western world, bookbinding was used from the 5th century onward. The process involved taking a small number of sheets, called a folio or signature, and sewing them together at the spine. Several folios were then stitched together onto a binding, onto which was attached cover boards. The entire volume was then covered by leather to protect it. With the pages of early books made of vellum, which would swell with humidity, early books had straps to keep them from taking on a wedge shape. With the use of paper and invention of the printing press, books became much more common and began to have more standardized sizes for travel and storage. 

Modern bookbinding involves several different methods as thinner paper allows for more pages per folio or signature. Case binding takes the folios and glues them together, then a cover is attached to the paper block, with no sewing involved. Oversewing involves punching holes through the folios and then stitching them together, which produces strong bindings, but the pages will not lie flat when opened. A binding that is "sewn through the fold" involves stitching the folios at the fold in the paper, and then gluing them together at the spine. There are also several other forms of bookbinding available, including spiral binding, tape binding and thermal binding, which are used to varying degrees and have different benefits and drawbacks.

Though hand bookbinding is becoming more rare, finding a company that does custom stitch work is possible. Most hand bookbinders and custom bookbinding companies do a certain amount of work in historical restoration of special antique books, especially family bibles and similar mementos that have become family heirlooms. They can also provide repairs to finish work on a book, repairing a book's "furniture", which is typically the metal pieces on the cover and the clasp that help maintain the book's condition.

If you have custom bookbinding needs, Accent Banner regularly provides bookbinding services as well as other custom finishing work such as custom stitching, grommetting and hemming. Please contact us today for more information.


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Topics: bookbinding

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