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;

Softc over:

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:

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.


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.


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

Machine: Landa S10P / Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 106

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 and foil to your book’s cover. For lamination, the heated chrome rollers of our Autobond Laminators create a strong seal, combined with a rubber counter-pressure roller to smooth the laminate out. 


Step 4: Folding

Machine: Heidelberg Stahl BH56 Folder

When your design has been printed, the folding process begins on our Stahl BH56 folding machine.

When printing a perfect bound book, the interior pages are imposed in multiples of four which is why, on our website it runs over 500, you’ll find that the number of printed pages you can choose from go up in multiples of four.

Your artwork is printed on one big sheet of paper. 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 big 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).

With perfect binding, we print in sections with a 16-page signature wherever possible. Where 16-page signatures are not available we will use 8-page signatures. Where 8-page signatures are not available we will use 4-page signatures.

A 36pp perfect bound soft cover book has 32 inside pages, so we would print and fold two 16-page signatures, which will be bound to create one 32-page book block and then wrapped in a 4pp cover to achieve a 36pp book.

A 44pp perfect bound book has 40 inside pages, so we would print and fold two 16-page signatures, and one 8-page signature which will be bound to create one 40-page book block and then wrapped in a cover to achieve a 44pp book.


Step 5: Gathering

Machine: Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder

Once the signatures have been folded they are then gathered in the correct order, ready to be bound together. The signatures are collated and gathered in order, using the ZU 832. Once all of the signatures are collated in order, this forms a book block, setting the stage for the KM 600 to work its magic.


Step 6: Milling

Machine: ZU 832 Gathering Machine

Once the signatures are collated, the book block’s spine is cut and roughened, preparing it for the adhesive. 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 7: Gluing

Machine: Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder

For our perfect bound books, we use a hotmelt 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.

Book orders over 500 quantities, will be bound using our lockbound binding method on the KM 600, an even stronger version of perfect bound, this bookbinding method uses a hot melt adhesive and puncturing to offer instant binding strength and durability for books that will be used over and over. 

Lock binding is a process where the collated pages of the book block are perforated. During binding, the adhesive is added and is pushed between the newly created perforations. This method creates a larger grip area by allowing the adhesive glue to bond itself to the perforated slots as well as the back of the signatures along the spine. The folded signatures and punctures in the spine create a stronger, more durable hold.

It’s important to note that this binding method is more durable, but due to the glueing and perforation, around 20 mm of your book will be lost to the centre of the spine. In this instance, long run perfect bound books are more suited for durable projects where lay-flat qualities and seamless imagery across spreads is not needed.

Once the glue is applied to the spine, the block is left to cure and dry before being trimmed.

Step 8: Trimming

Machine: Horizon Variable Trimmer HT 1000V 

Once the adhesive is dry, the book is then trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent. Our Horizon Variable Trimmer HT 1000V trims off any excess paper where necessary.


Step 9: Cover

Machine: Kolbus Case Maker and Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine

With the finished book block glued and trimmed, the cover can be added. This may be a soft cover or a hard cover. 

Soft cover:
For our soft cover perfect bound books, a wrap-around cover is added to the outside of the book block using wet glue to create the finished product. 

  1. The cover and book block are fed into the perfect binder.
  2. The cover is creased upon entry and the book block is then glued into the spine.
  3. A final trim is carried out with the cover attached, the book is trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent.

Hard cover:
For our hard cover perfect bound books, a few more steps are involved. If you opt for a hard cover, 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. We will add endpapers to the book block and then securely glue the casing to the book's inners.

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

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

Step 10: Final Checks

Once complete, our expert team will take time to check over your finished product to make sure it meets our high standards. 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?

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.


Heidelberg Speedmaster SX 106

We are committed to filling our factory with the best and the Speedmaster XL 106 is king of litho efficiency. For perfect bound books ordered in larger quantities, we’ll use this trusted machine as the Speedmaster, it is one of the first litho presses capable of changing jobs fully automated. In fact, Heidelberg claims it takes less than three minutes for the XL 106 to print the last sheet in one run and starting the first good sheet in another.


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.