How to Choose the Right Binding for Your Novel

The stack of “books I want to read” that sits on the edge of my desk just surpassed 20 volumes.

Steuben press how to choose the right binding for your novel

You can barely see me from behind the pile of titles I hope to read at some point in the future.

Of course, it would be a lot easier to download the books to my Kindle. All of the books on my list are available in digital format. But, there’s something about printed books that can’t be matched by pixels on a screen.

It was hard at the beginning to understand why I love printed books so much. Then, I realized that it’s not only the act of holding a book in your hand that I enjoy. Everything from the page type to the book binding adds to the experience.

If you’re an author, you probably feel the same way. Books have a physical beauty that can grab the attention of people. That’s why today I want to talk about one of the elements that make books so hard to give up: binding.

Let’s find out together how to choose the perfect book binding.

First Thing's First: Know Your Book

Nothing makes more of a visual statement than the binding you will choose. It needs to be special and visually appealing, so that people need to relate to it. But more than anything, you need to like it, as well. Think about what message and feelings you want your book to convey and translate them into a visual representation.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common bookbinding types to help you make a decision:

The Perfect Bound

Just as the name suggests, this is a bind that can please almost anyone. It features delicate design touches that are sure to catch the eye.

What a perfect bound actually means is that small sections of pages are glued in together into the wrap-around cover. The technique used allows for a firm hold since all pages are previously trimmed off.

Lay Flat Book Binding

This type of bind is perfect for books that need to be able to lay flat on a table when open.

Manufacturers must feed a book block into a binding line to create this binding style. Because the spine of the applied detached cover can actually float independently, the book will stay flat on a table.

Side Stitched Bound

This type of book binding is so beautiful that it can catch the eyes of even those less versed in the world of prints. Not only is it visually appealing but also extremely resistant in time. As you can imagine already, the technique consists of lateral stitching with either wire or staple. Instead of having the wire go along the spine as in the case of a saddle stitching, this one runs all along the side of the cover, going through the inside pages.

Wire Spiral

The wire spiral boasts more of a modern look that goes very well with a sleek book design. Although they are a very popular choice when it comes to high-quality notebooks, wire spiral can be used for books, as well. Besides looks, people appreciate this type of binding for the comfort they give in both writing and reading.

The wire spiral binding consists of a formed wire that threads through punched holes. If you want to make a statement, you can choose a colorful or even a multicolored wire. Do you know what the great thing about this choice is? It’s ageless. Kids love it; adults love it – you simply cannot go wrong with it.

The icing on the cake?

It’s a reasonably priced choice as well.

Screw Bound

Last but not least, you surely need to hear about this book binding type. Do not worry: no one gets hurt during the process.

The whole manufacturing process starts with drilling holes through the pages. Barrel posts are later on inserted through these holes, which are then “closed” with a cap screw. While it might not be a look for the romantic souls out there, it surely spells functionality. Nevertheless, design can gain a lot of points just by adding a strong visual. This mixture of great use and design is one of the reasons many swatch books have screw bounds.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you work with an established publisher or a small online book printer. Having the wrong book bind can create a poor experience for your readers. A workbook that doesn’t lie flat, for instance, can be very frustrating, to say the least.  Determine what you want to deliver to your readers and choose a book binding that meets their needs and preferences.

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Lees orderly cover

I was very fortunate to find Steuben Press for my self-published book. After interviewing several companies, I received a call from the owner and received a personal introduction to the process. I really needed that with this project. I was astonished at the quality of my finished product. Thanks for the personal service and providing quality work.

– Al Arnold, Madison, MS

Learn more about Al's book at