Not long after I finished my first novel, I decided to have a few printed. I formatted the work in MSWord to simulate a paperback that I had on my shelves. I copied the margins, typestyle and general look of my sample. I was able to fit 3 books up on a legal-sized sheet with a little extra room to spare. I generated a PDF of my 3-up book and took it to the printer.
I had the printer trim out the job so that I had three unbound books. The layout was such that I had additional paper margins on the top, bottom and leaf side of the stack. The bind edge was trimmed to the finished edge. I now had three stacks of paper.
Perfectbinding utilizes an adhesive that is forced into the edge of the book block to hold the pages together. A wraparound cover is applied before the glue cures. Once it has set, the other three edges of the stack are trimmed along with the cover to produce a nice neat squared-off product.
Equipment designed for perfectbinding utilizes hot glue, a process that lays the adhesive in a thick, even coat across the spine of the book. It solidifies almost instantly, which works in a production environment rather well. However, I needed a glue which would allow more working time. After all, I was only binding three books, and I wanted to be sure the pages would not fall out. Also, I would probably have to attach the cover in a separate operation.
I chose Goop, a silicone-based shoe repair adhesive. After clamping the bookblock so that approximately 1/4″ of the binding extended beyond edge of the boards. I was able to work the glue down into the space between the pages sufficiently using a very stiff brush and a putty knife. After working the adhesive well into the spine, I let it cure for a few hours before removing from the clamp.
Goop levels out in a pool as it cures, leaving a smooth rubber rubbery surface. Then, by creasing the cover stock to allow for the spine thickness and applying more of the cement, I was able to attach the wraparound cover to the spine.
When all the glue had cured overnight, I took my three books back down to the printer and had the three sides trimmed for a nice clean job. The result was a professional looking book every bit as good as the mass produced ones.
Next time I will talk about hardcover binding and what it takes to produce one yourself.
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