Book Binding Your Own Books

Book Binding

This past week for a little down-time project from writing I decided to get into book binding.  While I am striving to reach the e-book market, I decided I wanted an easy way to share my creations with friends and family.  The easiest way to do this was to start binding my own books.  I started out by doing punch style bindings.  Let’s face it though, a novel should be binded in the way you would expect a paper-back novel to be binded.  So I ventured out to figure out how to bind my books like a professional printing press would.

A professional press would get expensive, especially when I only want a few copies of each of my books.  So I did some research and found two different methods to binding books.  One involved PVA glue and the other hot glue.  The hot glue method requires a binding machine, like a Fellows Helios 60 (which I purchased).  PVA is nice, but it can cause paper to wrinkle and doesn’t provide as strong of a binding.

Next – I needed covers.  My personal book prints were going to be half letter size (5.5 x 8.5).  An 8.5 x 11 sheet would not cover the thickness of the book.  I found 8.5×14 (legal) cardstock.  I didn’t need a glossy cover, but I know there are options in legal size if I ever decided to go that route.  So printing several hundred pages and a cover, I managed to create one awful book.  I have discovered that book binding is an art in the DIY world.  A couple sad practice attempts and I finally started getting my bindings to come out looking good.  The biggest issue was the paper wasn’t perfectly flush.  You know that amazing cut that makes every page the same size without any overlapping with slightly longer lengths.

Two options came to mind.  A printing/copy center store (Staples, Kinkos, etc) which have huge cutting presses that can cut stacks at a time, or DIY.  I read many methods, from cutting through the sheets with a razor knife to cutting a few pages at a time with a guillotine style paper cutter.  I had a large guillotine style cutter already and attempted that method.  Fail.  You still end up with inconsistent cuts no matter how hard you try.  Then I discovered an HFS heavy duty paper cutter.  Up to six hundred pages in one cut!  I ordered it, and I am impressed.  My books look like a professional shop made them.

Now you are probably wondering what this post about book binding is getting at.  While I am mostly sharing my experiences, the ultimate line is try and try again.  Don’t be afraid to go a DIY route.  It can be fun and rewarding, but I do warn there can be some major aggravation.  If you are a writer who publishes e-books and hasn’t found a good way to make a paperback to share with friends and family, I recommend going this route.  Hot-glue with a Fellows Thermal Binder and a HFS heavy duty paper cutter.  All can be found on Amazon.  Practice, research (You-Tube) and patience is all you need to make some nice looking books.  I am not going to go through a tutorial here – there are many out there!  Go experiment, and most of all – have fun doing it!