Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Binding a book

I asked some of my friends if they’d like to see how I bind a book in one fashion. A few said “yes,” and none said no. So here’s my explanation. {Smile}
Before I bound this book, I got permission from the authors to show it off. Not that it isn’t legal as a set of copies of e-books I own, but that some authors are unhappy with books in different formats than they contracted to release. So thanks to my friend, Veronica Giguere, and her coauthors, Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libbey, Dennis Lee, and Cody Martin for permission to share this hand-bound book of short stories they wrote for the Secret World Chronicles series. That I could use stories in the first series about superheroes to catch my interest made it special. {WARM SMILE}
I collected the stories I included as e-books. (Fortunately, they’re all available in printable format.) Then I arranged them in a reasonable order, added a title page, table of contents, and such, chose the page arrangement that worked for the binding style I wanted to use, printed it out, and folded the pages into groups called “signatures…”

…and discovered that another story had been published before I started the next step. After some debating, I got extra permission, formatted the story, printed it out, and pressed it. During this step, I thought of actually showing how I do this, not just the finished project, so I started taking pictures. Here’s one that shows the added story pressing. I think it also shows the main book folded and collated with its cover-boards (measured and cut during an earlier project) in the upper left corner:

While here is the entire collection of pages printed, folded, and pressed:

Next, I got out my sewing frame, and strung up some cords to tie the book’s cords onto:

Then I tied up the book’s cords, and started sewing, poking holes in each signature while I went along. I’d used a saw to cut holes before, but I wanted to try this method. It has the advantage of not needing Dad’s hack saw, and the disadvantage of not getting the signatures quite as neatly lined up. That’s partly lack of practice, I’m sure. {Smile}

Here I am sewing:

And here’s a close-up of the sewing, or the knot binders put at each end of as many signatures as they can, so they don’t have to worry about damaging the paper when they reverse to add the next signature. {Smile}:

Here’s the book just after I finished the sewing, and before I started adding glue:

At approximately the same time, I worked on the cover. Dad had already cut coverboards to the right size. He had a sheet of cardboard to cut for a different project. He was cutting coverboards for another project, and I figured he could do the whole sheet at once, since I can always use coverboards this size, and he was out in the shop with the band-saw going anyway… {Smile}

Anyway, I measured and cut the thin cardboard for the spine at this time, along with the bookcloth to cover it all with. I do like to use bookbinder’s buckram to cover books. It has a waterproof coating, which makes the cover harder to damage when wet, and usually makes ironing unnecessary. Besides, it doesn’t require an extra skill-set like leather. Best of all, few bugs or other tiny critters like to eat buckram, at least fewer than like to eat leather. Since I live in the high tropics, I have no shortage of bugs to be concerned with. We don’t even have a season cool enough to slow them down, so many have settled in. {lop-sided Smile}

Here’s the parts of the cover ready to be assembled:

And here they are, all glued together, and pressed until the glue dried. There are some smudges, but none the endpapers won’t hide:

Next, I needed to finish preparing the textblock (the pages bound to each other but not the cover yet) to be attached to the cover. This involved gluing in the endsheets (the paper right next to and glued onto the cover), gluing the cords to the endsheets, and gluing on a paper that wraps around endsheets and spine, called the “super.” This is normally a none-too-remarkable step, but remember that this is a book about superheroes. Variations on the phrase “putting the ‘super’ into ‘superheroes’” seem to show up not infrequently in talks about superheroes, especially when something makes them particularly admirable. {pause}

So here I am, putting the super into a superhero book, though not the “super” into the same book. The latter is what the folks I thanked up top did. {wink, SMILE}:

Next, I glued the cover to the textblock. Here it is pressing while the glue dries, with wax paper to keep the glue from sticking where it isn’t wanted. (If in the slightest doubt, press while the glue dries. Doing do prevents more bubbles, wavy paper, glue creepage, and other all-too-long-term damage than I want to think about. {wink, Smile}):
Here’s the book when it’s finished:

Here’s the title page I made for it. I don’t think the “READING COPY: NOT FOR SALE” line is strictly required. However, selling it would make it an illegal copy, so adding it seemed like a nice courtesy. {Smile}:

While here’s the table of contents in two parts:

So that’s how I made this book. I’ve enjoyed reading it since. {Smile}
Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


  1. Pretty impressive effort! I enjoyed seeing all the steps this time.

  2. Thanks for sharing that. I really appreciated the pictures. :) You don't really think about books as being sewn together.