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Book Binding Made Easy


This is not a book on commercial bindery systems or automated publishing. Nor

will I discuss restoration of antique books or the history of book binding-it is
quite simply a book to help the writer with limited resources get his work into
print- fast and easy and in a Mass paperback size. When you’ve finished this
book, you too will be able to make a book the size and quality of the
commercial publishing trade.

When I finished my first novel, it was extremely important for me to see it in

print. After trying all the conventional methods to get my work published,
short of Vanity Publishing, I began researching methods for making books. I
was amazed that those complicated looking things I’ve been burying my nose in
for most of my life, were in fact pretty simple in nature. Without a doubt, the
real work is in creating the text.

With that said, I’m sure you too will discover as I have that there is a great deal
of pleasure to be found in taking that labor of love and turning it into
something you can hold in your hands and be extremely proud of!

I will delve into more detail with each step of the process, covering all the tools
and materials that I’ve found to work. At that time, I will also offer tips that
I’ve learned through ‘doing’, and I have done a lot of ‘doing’ between writing
novels. Note: there are always alternatives to tried and true materials and
methods and I strongly suggest you experiment.
One of the greatest pleasures in producing a one of a kind-one at a time-book is
that you can customize it specifically for the individual to whom you intend to
give it. My friends and family are always taken aback when they receive my
latest novel and the credits are thanking them personally for their inspiration
or help.
The press pictured and used in the illustrations is simple and unique. Anyone
with access to some scrap lumber and a ‘C-clamp’ can build one. The trick to a
good press is ease of use and that all the joints are perfectly square for a concise
binding. A fancier arrangement could be fabricated from more expensive
materials, but the same purpose will be served, and the final product the same if
you’re press is constructed accurately. All told, the press is nothing more than a
tool to square up and hold your book together under pressure while the glue
A cold glue is used in the following process, available at almost all hardware,
craft, and variety stores. The container pictured is what I use with good results,
but is in no way an endorsement. Any strong adhesive that remains flexible will
work if it doesn’t stain or otherwise damage the paper.
Most any paper can be used, but I recommend an inexpensive photo paper for
the cover, and 18# or lighter paper for the leaves. 20# paper will work, but the
pages may be slightly stiff, increasing the strain on the glued binding. 20# and
heavier paper will work fine with larger books such as Trade paperbacks. But
for our purposes here, employ as light of weight as your printer will handle
without risk of jamming. Toilet paper could be used, if you were so inclined,
but it’s not a very durable material for book leaves and has a tendency to leave
behind a great amount of fuzz buildup in your printer. Readily available 8½ X
11 paper will yield three leafs per sheet or six printed pages. You don’t have to
be a math major to see how inexpensive the paper in a book is compared to the
total cost, as compared to the printing costs.
Any printer will do, but this is going to be your largest expense involved in
making your own books--not the actual cost of the printer, but the per/page
cost of printing. There are many inexpensive laser printers on the market, or
you can consider an ink jet. Just remember, the ink jet printer is slower, as a
rule, and considerably less cost effective per page of text.
My best investment since making my own books was a $5.00 laser printer I
obtained from a second-hand store. The toner cartridge was depleted, but still
intact. I refilled the cartridge with bulk toner, cleaned the rest of the printer
inside and out, and have printed more than 20,000 paperback pages with it
since then. My more expensive laser printer, which I purchased new hasn’t
been nearly as reliable. Save your ink jet for printing covers, unless you’re into
refilling ink cartridges.
I hope you enjoy applying the information I have compiled in this how-to book
and that the finished products bring you as much joy as they have me.
Will Decker