June 1, 2023

The Difference Between Saddle-Stitched and Perfect Bound Books

Both options are great for specific types of projects and knowing what you intend the final use to be will influence the type of binding you choose.

stack of magazines

When it comes to binding techniques, the most popular are going to be “saddle-stitching” and “perfect binding”. So what defines them and how do you choose which one is best for your job?

What is Saddle-Stitch?

Saddle-stitching is a technique that staples the cover and inner sheets together down the center then folds them in half along the staple line to create the finished book. No glue is used and it’s one of the fastest and most cost-effective binding methods.

booklets off bookletmaker

What is Perfect Bound?

Perfect binding is the technique of gluing the book block or inner sheets with a soft cover along the spine. This method offers a square back spine you can print on and makes it easier to stack. And covers are usually thicker than the inner sheets, which can be spot UV coated. During the process, the spine of the book block is roughened to prepare it for glue adhesion.

Although perfect bound books are going to look nicer, it is more labor intensive as covers should be creased to prevent cracking and books need to be three-side trimmed once the glue has cured. It’s also going to be the more expensive option.

perfect bound journals

Check out the process of perfect binding here:

How to Choose?

Saddle-stitching is best utilized in projects that don’t have a lot of pages — under 100 total pages, or 50 sheets folded in half — is a good rule of thumb. If you have a project such as a catalog or multiple-page brochure, saddle-stitching is the way to go. One thing to keep in mind is that because the cover is going to be the same stock as the inner sheets, they may not stand up to as much as rough handling.

Perfect binding, on the other hand, is commonly seen on everything from books to larger catalogs and journals. Because it is more durable and allows for printing on the spine, it allows for more creative choices along with being able to withstand more handling.

Some additional factors to consider:

  1. What is the budget for the project? If cost is a concern, saddle-stitching is going to be more economical.
  2. How long do you intend the books to last? If it’s a project you want to stand the test of time on someone’s shelf or it’s the kind that will be shared around, perfect binding will offer greater durability. If it’s meant to be viewed only a handful of times before being recycled or it’s a seasonal book, saddle-stitched books will hold up well.
  3. How important are aesthetics? A perfect bound book is a more traditional binding method, one that you are used to seeing in books and larger magazines. If it’s important you get the same look and feel, then perfect binding might be the right choice.

Saddle-stitching and perfect binding are finishing techniques that have been around for nearly as long as print itself. If you are looking to bring bindery in-house, take a look at the fully automated 700i Booklet System from Duplo which offers square back options with the capability to produce 50-sheet booklets or the DB-290 Perfect Binder which performs book binding, tape binding, and padding too.

Both techniques are well suited for specific book projects and understanding how they differ – and when to use them – will ensure your next project is ultimately exactly what you are looking for.

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