With the release of The Nameless Knight getting close, it’s time to make the first print copy. I’ve been looking around for a new binding style that’ll work better with the paper I can get through my printer, and with the help and advice of /r/Bookbinding on Reddit, I found it! Now all my books will be made like this. If you’re not a bookbinding wonk, this might not be interesting to you, but here goes:
I have to print my books (obviously) and it’s not feasible to print using an inkjet printer because of the high cost of ink. The only other option available to me at a reasonable price is using a laser printer, and that’s what I do. My big monochrome behemoth cost about CAD$160, and the toners are about CAD$50 apiece, but I’ll get 10-15 books out of each so it’s not too bad.
Laser printers use a lot of heat, though, and it tends to warp the paper just a tiny bit. This isn’t an issue for paper that’s long grain, meaning the grain runs parallel to the long edge. Long grain paper going through a heated toner fuser means the grain is perpendicular to the heat source, and it warps the edges a little. But this presents another issue – in order to do a 5.5″ x 8.5″ case binding, I need the 8.5″ x 11″ paper to be short grain. (Using long grain paper in this binding means that any glue applied to the spine causes the paper to warp at that point.) Short grain means the grain is parallel to the short edge, not the long edge.
So printing on short grain paper has two effects: the first being that the paper warps in a different way, and the second being that the paper warps so badly that it jams inside the printer. It’s possible that this might be fixed by using thicker paper, but my tests haven’t worked out so far. The net result is that I can’t do a regular case binding with long grain paper printed on a laser printer.
If I have to use long grain paper when I print, then I have to use a different method of binding that doesn’t use glue on the spine.
The solution: the sewn boards binding
I adapted this from an online tutorial after reading about it on /r/Bookbinding, but the principle is still the same. The text block is sewn with an extra card leaf on either end, into which the boards that make up the book cover are glued before the actual cover is put on.
This works because the only glue that touches the text block is a thin strip where the endpaper is glued onto the last page. This post shows you how I’d usually do a case binding, with muslin and card glued onto the text block so that it can be reinforced and then attached to the cover. There’s lots of PVA glue required there! But the sewn boards binding doesn’t need it, because the cover boards are attached to the text block separately from the outer spine. They’re inserted into the card leafs so there’s no need to reinforce the spine either – it’s very, very unlikely that the covers will separate from the text block. The only downside is that I can’t really add a bookmark, but I might come up with something to figure that out later.
Here’s how I did it.
All done! It looks pretty good. This is the first print edition of The Nameless Knight, and only the second sewn boards binding I’ve done that wasn’t for practice.
Here’s the matched set of The Meldling and The Nameless Knight! These are both special promo copies that I gave away on my mailing list. They’ll be sent to Angel in North Carolina, the giveaway winner, by registered post this week. If you’d like a chance to win one of my books, check out my mailing list, or keep an eye out for other giveaways on LibraryThing or Goodreads.
Major thanks to the community of /r/Bookbinding for their help, and I highly recommend you go and check them out if you’re interested in binding your own books.