Book Binding Made Easy

The books I have written I usually sell through Amazon, or here on my website.  With Amazon, it is a simple click of the button to create a paperback version of my books.  But one thing really bothers me; how much I am charged to have Amazon bind my eBooks!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Amazon.  They do some great stuff, and sell great stuff, but when it comes to the authors that write the books, they take a heavy toll from them. I did all the research for my eBooks, I did all the writing (months of it), I edited every book I wrote for hours, I uploaded to all their specification, I worked hours on my eBooks.  Amazon took a whopping 70% of my royalties, plus charges for each book printed! The regular, run of the mill, eBooks doesn’t sell for a lot.  From $.99 to $9.99 if you want to retain 30% royalties, but that doesn’t include paperback copies. When the royalties are finally dished out, your looking at pennies on the dollar, your share. I ordered a couple of copies for a book signing I did. It was really cool seeing my name on the book, my title, my words, all in print. But I was really disappointed with the charges.  Then I thought, “I bet I could bind my own book!” And so I did!

I did a pretty darn good job of it too! I didn’t follow the popular method of binding. The packets of eight sheets stacked together thing. I didn’t like the look, so I went with my own idea.

You don’t have to be crafty, or have any special talent, well, be able to read and write a book would be a bonus. Otherwise it’s simple and fun! You get to pick the material you use. Your not limited except in your own creativity.  Let me show you how to bind your own book right here!

First we’ll bind your manuscript. Make sure you have this stuff on hand to bind it:

  • First and foremost, you’ll need your completed manuscript.
  • A good glue. I used Gorilla Wood Glue.
  • A sharp cutting instrument like a paper cutter (that can handle several sheets), or an exacto knife.
  • A piece of board. I had some old photo frames, and I took the board backing out of them to use. You can also purchase the boards.
  • Some sort of securing device like vice grips, or clamps.  The clamps pictured work very good. Once you set the grips, the trigger ratchets it down snug on your papers.
  • And a piece of cloth. Any swatch of cloth will do. It won’t be seen.

Step #1  Print your manuscript. It’s up to you what size you want to print your manuscript.  5″x 7″, 8″ x 10″, 12″ x 15″, what ever you like. The book cover will be made to fit your manuscript print size.

Step #2  Make certain the pages in your manuscript are in the order to which they belong.  Add an extra blank sheet to the beginning, and another at the end of your book.

Step #3  Tap the manuscript on a flat surface to make all the edges even and neat.  Now apply your clamping device right at the spine, yet not covering the spine.

Step #4  Using your glue, lay a strip of glue along the spine (I use a brush). The papers should be squeezed tight enough with your clamps that no glue seeps between the pages. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Step #5  Remove the clamps.  The pages should all stay in their position at the spine. If any pages are not secured to the glued spine, re-glue them in place and allow to dry.

Step #6  Take your swatch of cloth and cut it so it is the same height as the manuscript, and 3 times the page depth.  Lay a strip of glue down the center of the swatch of cloth and then lay the spine of your manuscript onto the glue strip. This will leave adhere the spine to the center of the swatch leaving wings of cloth on both sides of the spine.  These wings will be glued to the cover later. Set the manuscript on its spine so the swatch is pressed against the spine  for best adhesion. Allow to dry.

You have completed preparing your manuscript for binding! Take a break. Pat yourself on the back.  Coming up next…binding your book!

Now we are going to put your bound manuscript into its cover we are going to make.

Step #1  Choose the fabric you want for your book cover. It can be anything you like IE: leather, blue jean, old curtains, anything. Preferably use something that isn’t bulky.  The bulkier the fabric, the more it will stand out at the seams.

Step #2  Take a ruler, or straight edge, and using your utility knife, cut the pages straight on the edge (If you have an industrial paper cutter, that would work great).

You manuscript should be looking like the photo below. Edges all cut straight, spine has cloth glued to it. Ready for step 3.

Step #3 Lay your manuscript on the book cover board you chose with the spine against one of the straight edges.  Trace an outline around your manuscript onto the board adding a 1/2″ margin around it, then cut it out two times.  This will be the front and the back cover.  Cut another piece of board that is the height and the depth of the manuscript. This will be the spine.

Step #4  Lay the cut out board on your chosen cover fabric like so and cut the fabric 1″ larger than the book boards (Don’t forget to put the spine in between the two covers with a gap):

Step #5  Now that your material is cut; On the opposite face of the book boards lay out some glue.  Smear it around all the way to the edges. Leave no pools of glue. A brush works well here, or a piece of the book board you can use like a trowel to smooth the glue.  Lay the glued book board onto the fabric. Do the same with the spine and the other book board piece. It should look like the picture above but it has glue on the side touching the fabric.  Lay a heavy book on it.  Allow to dry with book on it.

Step #6  Once the boards are dry you are ready to do the inside seams. Cut a diagonal line on each corner like in the photo below. This will make a neat corner when it is folded in.

Step #7  Apply glue to the edge of the book boards.  Fold the fabric over the boards starting with the length side first, then the short side.  The corners will come together in a nice seam. You may need to touch-up your corner cut if they don’t. Place that heavy book back on it.  Allow to dry.

Step #8  Here’s where the magic happens! Your book cover is all dry, seams are glued down, and your ready to insert your bound manuscript!  Take your manuscript and apply glue only to the wings.  No glue on the spine or the book won’t open correct. Lay the spine of the manuscript on the spine of the book and press the wings down firmly.  Allow to dry.  See photo below:

Only apply glue to the wings!

Step #9  Now for the liner. Open the front cover.  You see all that messy edge and gluing?  We are going to cover that now.  Take a piece of paper, or material of your choice (something designer is nice) and cut it the size of the cover and the front page all together.  See photo below:

Measure here to here.

Step #10  Fold your liner about half way. You want the fold where it will fold when the book is closed normally. Apply glue to the inside cover and the first page. Then, lay the liner on the glue, matching the corners of the first page, and the edges of the book cover.  Place a sheet of paper or plastic between the manuscript pages and the first page so the manuscript won’t get glue on it.  Do the same thing to the back inside cover. Put a protective paper there as well. Lay a heavy book on it.  Allow to dry.

Insert a protective sheet so the manuscript won’t be glued as well.

Open your book carefully to remove the protective sheet from inside.  Making sure non of the manuscript pages are glued.

YOU ARE DONE! You did it!

Tada! Your book, Your way! And it looks great!

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