How a Perfect Bound Book Is Made

How a Perfect Bound Book Is Made

Read Time: 4 Minutes


18 Dec 2023

What Is A Perfect Bound Book?

If you’re in search of a book that offers guaranteed quality and durability, perfect bound is the perfect choice. A perfect bound book is one of the most cost-effective binding types we offer but you can be confident that we don’t compromise cost for quality. Our expert team of skilled printers and bookmakers have years of industry knowledge and know-how. Their commitment to bookmaking guarantees that our perfect bound books are crafted to stand the test of time, combining precision and longevity.

Perfect binding offers complete versatility for your next project, it’s suitable for a range of applications such as children's books, portfolios, and magazines. Its strength and durability are further underscored by the use of strong adhesive to bond the pages, ensuring a prolonged shelf life. Our long run perfect bound books are bound using our lockbound binding method, an even stronger version of perfect bound, this bookbinding method uses a hot melt adhesive and puncturing to offer instant binding strength and durability.

With hard and soft cover perfect bound books available, there’s no limit to what you can create. Whether you’re looking for flexibility and endurance or a more luxurious protective finish, there’s something to suit your next project.


Our perfect bound books come with two cover options;

Soft cover:

Our soft cover perfect bound books combine the best of both worlds, flexibility and durability. A soft cover is the perfect choice for more projects where costs need to be kept low without compromising on quality.

Hard cover (self ended):

Taking your print to the next level, a hard cover is ideal for more high-end print jobs where luxury and strength is a must. Mounted on 2500mic board hardback complete with a 150gsm matt lamination cover, hard cover is the perfect choice if you’re out to impress. Our hard cover books are self ended - the final pages of the book are glued to the hard cover rather than adding separate end papers like other book binding methods.


How Are Perfect Bound Books Printed?

Utilising the strong nature of our adhesives and our team’s wealth of binding experience, you can be sure that your next book job will stand the test of time. Explore how your perfect bound book is created as it passes through our factory, the hands of our skilled team and top-quality machines.


The Printing Process


Step 1: Pre-Press

At instantprint, we understand that books are complex, requiring true attention to detail. Before sending to print, our skilled studio team will get to know your artwork, checking the specifications in detail and preparing your file for print using our rigorous and free 10 point artwork check.


Step 2: Printing

Machines: Nanographic, Litho
Your design will be sent down to our factory where our skilled operators will begin printing your design onto your chosen paper stock. Here, your inner pages will be printed as well as your cover.

In our factory, you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to our equipment. Printed on our state-of-the-art machines, your book’s artwork is brought to life.


Step 3: Embellishment and Lamination

Machine: MGI JETvarnish / Autobond Laminators

At this stage, if you have opted for any embellishment or lamination on your book’s cover, this will also be added.

Utilising our MGI JETvarnish, this machine can add spot UV or foil to your book’s cover. If you need premium-looking print, this is the machine to thank. You can read more about spot UV and foil in our blog here.

For lamination, our Autobond Laminators are able to offer a range of solutions from matt to gloss. The heated chrome rollers of our Autobond Laminators help create a strong smooth seal to both sides of your print in one pass. Learn more about lamination and the different types in our blog here.


Step 4: Folding

Machine: Heidelberg Stahl Folder

When your design has been printed, the folding process begins on our Stahl folding machine.

When printing a perfect bound book, the interior pages are imposed in multiples of four which is reflected when selecting your number of pages on our website.

Your artwork is printed on one finished sheet. When we print in 16-page signatures it means that consecutively, 8 pages of your artwork are printed on one side and another 8 on the other. When the printed sheet is folded in half, and in half again, the pages are in the order. This will be repeated based on the number of pages in your book.

A signature is a configuration printers use to lay out a book’s pages on a press sheet so that after folding they are in the correct order. A press sheet refers to the full-size sheet that is fed into our printers where multiple designs or jobs are printed before being folded or cut. Signatures are for inner pages and only takes into consideration your book cover if your book is self-cover (same stock on inners as covers).

The Binding Process - Kolbus KM600


Step 1: Gathering

Once the signatures have been folded they are then gathered in the correct order, ready to be bound together. The signatures are placed in order, once all of the signatures are collated in order, this forms a book block, setting the stage for binding.


Step 2: Spine Preparation

Once the signatures are collated, the book block’s spine moves along the KM600 where the spine is prepared. 

Before the glue is added, the book’s spine will be cut and roughened, preparing it for the adhesive and guaranteeing a flawless finish. Abrading the edges of the book block, the gathered signatures are slightly roughened and notched down the spine, exposing the paper fibres so that the glue will adhere better. The fragments of paper are brushed off the book block before the glue is applied allowing it to bond properly.


Step 3: Gluing

Once the spine has been roughened, the book block moves along the Kolbus ready to be glued and the cover to be added.

For our perfect bound books, we use a hot melt glue called Planamelt. This glue is used for our perfect bound jobs as the glue has a faster curing time compared to PUR adhesives, which means we can move our perfect bound orders through our factory quicker. 


Step 4: Cover

Soft Cover
For our softcover perfect bound books, your cover is added to the outside of the book block using wet glue to create the finished product. The cover and book block are fed into the perfect binder where the cover is creased upon entry and the book block is then glued onto the spine.

For our hardcover perfect bound books, a few more steps are involved. If you’ve opted for a hardcover book, at this stage we will apply a false cover. Slightly thicker than your inner stock, the false cover is also fed into the same machine from the other end where glue is applied to the spine, the block is then left to cure and dry before being trimmed.

The false cover applied will act as endpapers to the book block and is what will help secure your block to the hardcover casing.


Step 5: Trimming

Once the adhesive is dry, softcover books complete with their cover and hardcover book inners with false cover attached, are then trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent. The book is sent along the conveyor belt to the attached inline KM 600 trimmer. The book is trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent.


Hardcover Binding (Self Ended)

Machine: Kolbus Case Maker DA 260 and Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine

For our hardcover perfect bound books, a few more steps are involved. If you opt for a hardcover, your book will be attached to a 2500-micron greyboard where we will cover your book's front and back pages as well as the spine. The false cover previously applied will act as endpapers to the book block when it is secured to the casing.

  1. The greyboard, the material that makes the cover hard, is guillotined to size. The greyboard hardcover will be slightly larger than your specified inner size such as A4, usually 3mm to ensure the cover is attached correctly.
  2. The greyboard and cover are brought together using our Kolbus Case Maker, where the hardcover is created.
  3. The finished case or ‘cover’ is then fed into our Kolbus casing in machine along with your existing book block where the hardcover is then attached to the book block via the false cover using glue.

Endpapers are the first and last sheets of paper in a book and are what attach the book block to the cover.

Final Checks

Once complete, our expert team will take time to check over your finished product to make sure it meets our high standards. We’ll measure your book on every side to ensure accuracy after trimming as well as checking that all of the artwork is in order and all images and text are lined up.

Your books will then be sent to our dispatch team who will carefully package your print ready to be collected by our couriers and shipped to your business.


What Machines Are Perfect Bound Books Printed On?

Nanographic Printing - Landa S10P

When printing perfect bound books on our silk and uncoated stocks, it’s likely that we’ll use the Landa! We’re the proud owners of the UK’s first nanographic press – a new printing technology that is set to revolutionise our industry. The Landa helps us combine the methodology of lithographic offset printing with a digital operating system, which means your print gets the best of both worlds.


Lithographic Printing

For perfect bound books ordered in larger quantities, we’ll send them to be printed lithographically through trusted machines such as the Heidelberg Speedmaster. It’s one of the first litho presses capable of changing jobs fully automated and is incredibly efficient.


Kolbus KM 600

When it comes to binding our perfect bound books to their covers, we use our cutting-edge Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder. The KM 600's precision shines as it applies glue to the spine, mills and notches it, ensuring a flawlessly bound book block. Once this is done, the cover and block are joined, where every detail has been engineered to deliver the perfect book quality. We take pride in using the Kleiberit 743.7 EVA adhesive for its high quality, ensuring a fault-free and superior spine.


In Conclusion

If you’re looking to level up your next book job, binding is the perfect solution. With durability and flexibility combined, you can easily create a book that sits in line with your budget but looks and feels luxurious.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.