Bookbinding Techniques


Bookbinding has evolved over the years and many modifications originating from different countries and cultures have influenced the art of bookbinding, giving rise to a plethora of bookbinding techniques.

As a hobby, bookbinding is versatile and has a lot of variation. This makes it fun and unpredictable.

This post provides a summary of the different bookbinding techniques available today.

Here for a quick glance? Here’s what we cover in this article:

Now, let’s get down to it:

Perfect Binding


This bookbinding technique is most commonly used in commercial books and magazine bindings. Perfect binding is one of the easiest and fastest methods of binding books.

Perfect Binding uses adhesive to hold individual book pages (or folded book signatures) together.

The adhesive is placed on the book spine, producing a flat spine.

Depending on the adhesive used, the book can be held together tightly. Commercially, hot melt adhesives are used for perfect binding. These adhesives provide a relatively stronger ‘bind’ compared to the regular PVC glue.

For the DIY-ers and bookbinding enthusiast, we can get a glue gun from most stationery stores for a stronger adhesive. To ensure a strong perfect bound book, you can use a pen knife to create cuts or grooves along your book spine before you apply any adhesive. These cuts will allow the glue to seep (or spread) deeper along the book spine, giving a stronger bind.

Learn how to do a perfect bound book with our free tutorial: Perfect Binding Tutorial

There are many variations of Perfect Binding, some of which includes: Notch Binding and Burst Binding:

  • Notch binding involves the creation of notches along the spine for an increased surface area to hold the glue.
  • Burst binding involves creation of extra slits/holes along the spine of the book to allow the glue to seep deeper into the spine of the book.

Both the Notch binding and Burst binding serve to provide a stronger adhesion of the spine, making the book more durable.

Advantages of Perfect Binding

  • Fast – Perfect binding can be done relatively quickly.
  • Less manpower required – Due to the nature of this method, perfect binding can be easily done by machines. This significantly reduces the cost of commercial bookbinders and book publishers.

Disadvantages of Perfect Binding

  • Relatively weaker binding – As the book is held together only by adhesive, it’s binding is relatively weaker compared to other forms of bookbinding that involve sewing.
  • Less durable spine – book spines of perfect bound books tend to tear easily after a long period of usage.

Due to its simplicity, a perfect bookbinding book project is a great project for people who are looking to try out bookbinding.

Coptic Binding

One of the most ‘primitive’ bookbinding techniques, Coptic binding is characterized by having sections of book pages being joined together via a single stitch.

Coptic Stitch

Source: Wikipedia

Coptic binding has many modifications. The simplest form of Coptic binding is as seen in the example above where the pages are held together by a neat stitch, without covering the spine.

Learn how to do a coptic binding book with our free tutorial: Coptic Binding Tutorial

Advantages of Coptic Binding

  • Design that lasts – with the sewing of the book pages, your book (and it’s spine) will last longer.
  • Versatile – although I used the word ‘primitive’ to describe it, coptic binding is actually also one of the most versatile and flexible bookbinding techniques. Many different designs and sewing patterns can be created once you’ve the basics down.

Disadvantages of Coptic Binding

  • Time-consuming – Sewing the pages of the book requires time and lots of patience
  • Spine may not turn out straight or neat after multiple uses, especially if there is no book cover on the book spine – Opening and closing the book can cause the book spine to shift if the sewing is done too lightly.
  • Complex – the sewing may be complicated for new bookbinders

The basic Coptic Binding works as a great introduction to the basics of sewing in bookbinding for people who are new to bookbinding. The sewing method used in Coptic Binding is the basic method that is also used in other bookbinding techniques.

Japanese Stab Binding

As the name suggests, this form of bookbinding requires you to stab holes on your book in order to bind your book. Similar to Coptic Binding, the Japanese Stab Binding has evolved over the years and has many variations.

The simplest form of the Japanese Stab Binding is a Three Hole Binding. This involves creating 3 holes (duh) along one edge of your book and book cover and bringing your thread through these holes to sew your book together.

A distinguishing feature of a Japanese Stab bound book is that it has a spine that ‘eats’ into the book as shown in the picture below:

Japanese Stab Bookbinding

Learn how to do a Japanese Stab bound book with our free tutorial: Japanese Stab Binding Tutorial

Advantages of Japanese Stab Binding

  • Relatively simple – especially since the sewing is done along the edge of the book rather than on the folded spine. You will notice a greater ease in sewing if you had started out with coptic binding instead.

Disadvantages of Japanese Stab Binding

  • Spine ‘eats’ into book – this means that your book cannot be opened flat, the spine will always jut out. This can be quite inconvenient for a thick notebook.

The basic Japanese Stab Binding provides a great looking end product with a Japanese feel. Works great on thin books or thin photobooks.

Saddle Stitch Bookbinding


Saddle Stitch Binding using Staples

The 2nd most commonly used in commercial books and magazine bindings. Plus, as a commercial bookbinding technique, the Saddle Stitch binding is relatively cost effective and time saving. Saddle Stitch is often done using staple bullets to hold the book together at its folded spine (as seen in picture above).

Saddle Stitch Binding Exampl

The characteristics of a Saddle Stitch bound book is that it usually is very thin, has a very small spine and a soft book cover.

Saddle Stitch binding can be done by sewing (and I prefer sewing too). An extra trimming step has to be done as the edges of the inner most paper will jut out more compared to the outer ones.

Learn how to do a Saddle Stitch bound book with our free tutorial: Saddle stitch Binding Tutorial

Advantages of Saddle Stitch Binding

  • Cost effective (especially commercially)
  • Minimal Spine Area – these books can be opened up flat and hence are preferred as notebooks
  • No additional book cover required – the outer most paper serves directly as the book cover
  • Simple technique – usually only involves 1 book signature
  • Almost any size of book can be made using the Saddle Stitch Binding method

Disadvantages of Saddle Stitch Binding

  • There is a threshold to the thickness of the book – especially commercially.
  • An extra trimming step has to be done for a straight edge

The Saddle Stitch binding provides a simple and no-frills solution to bookbinding. It is a great technique for aspiring bookbinders who do not want to invest in recommended bookbinding tools. For the most basic Saddle Stitch bookbinding project, all you’d need are some paper, a needle and a thread.

Long Stitch Book Binding

long stitch bookbinding sample

This stitching method involves sewing book signatures directly onto the book cover. Hence. no gluing will be required in this technique.

Due to the need of the book cover to endure multiple stitches, book covers used in Long Stitch Book Binding projects are usually made of card board or leather.

Learn how to do a Long Stitch bound book with our free tutorial: Long stitch Binding Tutorial

Advantages of Long Stitch Binding

  • Ability to create nice designs on your book spine
  • No Glue required

Disadvantages of Long Stitch Binding

  • Due to the restrictions on the book cover, you may be limited to the use of certain materials for your book cover.

Case Bound Book Binding

Case binding involves several techniques; the sewing techniques that allows you to stitch the book signatures together as well as creating a book case (or book cover) for the book.

The product is a professionally bound book that is great as a gift.

Bookbinding Workshop 1

Learn how to do a Case bound book with our free tutorial: Case Binding Tutorial

Advantages of Case Binding

  • Produces professional looking books
  • Case bound books are relatively more durable
  • Versatile; you can create various designs with this technique

Disadvantages of Case Binding

  • Each project takes a long time to complete with several ‘incubation’/waiting timings
  • Not recommended for new bookbinding hobbyists (due to the time and effort required)

Otabind Book Binding (Also known as Layflat book binding)

Otabind book binding creates books that can be laid flat on tables or similar surfaces.

otabind book binding

Source: Edwards Brothers Malloy

The focus of this form of book binding is in the creation of its book cover and spine which allows the book to be laid flat on a surface. The book signatures or sections can be held together either with glue (as in perfect binding) or sewn together.

Advantages of Otabind Book Binding

  • Produces professional looking books
  • Produces books that can be laid on flat surfaces – you won’t have to worry about damaging the spine of the book

Disadvantages of Otabind Book Binding

  • Each project takes a long time to complete
  • Not recommended for new bookbinding hobbyists (due to the time and effort required)


We’ve covered some of the most common bookbinding techniques in this article.

Still not sure where to start, here’s our suggestions:

If you want a quick and easy handmade notebook, consider the saddle stitch book binding technique. We have a quick tutorial on it too.

If you want to learn the fundamental skills to bookbinding, challenge yourself with a case binding project!