Our Craftsmanship Standards is a series of articles that take you behind the scenes of Paperblanks. Quality is the single most important part of the design process of our books. We attend to each detail and apply rigorous quality control checks to every component of our journals.
At Paperblanks, we believe having the pages lie flat when you use a book is one of the signatures of fine bookmaking. When we design our blank books we emphasize they open as flat as possible, knowing that this is one of the most pleasing – yet also functional – aspects to using a writing journal. This is why we describe our journals as functional art.
An example of the lay-flat binding of a Paperblanks book is depicted in the above image. The following two images depict writing journals that are not able to lie flat:
How We Do It
So what goes into the construction of a Paperblanks book to achieve this lay-flat binding?
1. Edition Binding
First, we never glue our book block to the spine of our covers. Instead, we affix our book block to the binding boards of the book cover, which provide a greater flexibility to the book’s structure.
Each page, when opened, moves independently to the book’s spine.
This is typical of Edition binding, which refers to the method of binding identical books in quantity as opposed to binding each individual book by hand. In edition binding the endpapers perform the crucial function of holding the book block inside the cover.
2. Case Construction
Second, our book covers are assembled together with case construction, a binding method where the two binding boards and the spine – each separate pieces – are glued to the outside material of the cover. This material can be paper, cloth, leather or synthetic material.
Once the binding boards, the spine and the outside covers are attached together, they create a flexible joint that reinforces the lay flat opening of the outside cover.
3. Smythe Sewn Binding
Finally – with the exception of the books in our handstitched collection – we use Smythe Sewn binding because it is the most durable binding method sewn by machines instead of by hand.
Known for their quality, books bound by Smythe Sewn binding are superior to what is known as Perfect Binding (when pages are glued directly to the book spine). Perfect binding is by no means perfect because the pages can never open completely flat and they will actually, over time, fall out. Also with Perfect Binding the flexibility of the book is compromised.
Tell Us What You Think
Tell us below what you think about lay-flat binding. How important to you is lay-flat binding?