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Book binding

Traditional binding workshop(A 16th-century traditional binding workshop in the West (engraving by Jost Amman, 1568).)

Book binding is the production operation of the book taking place just after the printing work. It covers all the steps from assembling the pages or notebooks to the installation of the cover material. Binding is opposed to ‘broaching’, a modern technique that is characterized by a thick paper cover directly glued or sewn to the back of the book.

The manual book binding consists of about fifty steps, which are technically reduced to sewing the notebooks, attaching plates (rigid or flexible) to the body of the work, and laying a covering material.

In the seventeenth century, the term “binding” took on the meaning of “the way a book is bound” according to its history, technical and decorative developments, geographical origins, and styles, often related to the reputation of bookbinders.

There are several major types of binding:

  • the traditional western (“French-style”) or oriental binding (evolving since the fourth century);
  • the nested western montage called “Bradel montage” (from the end of the 18th century);
  • industrial binding (as early as the 19th century);
  • contemporary or artist binding (20th century and 21st century).

Types of binding

Decorative book binding(Decorative binding with figurehead of the 12th century manuscript Liber Landavensis)

Traditional binding

Western binding

The traditional Western binding, called “French”, is the classic binding technique, used since the Middle Ages and which reached its peak in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

It is differentiated from other techniques by a traditional sewing of notebooks around leather straps or hemp strings, which are then passed through wooden or cardboard plates. This structure is particularly strong.

Oriental binding

Oriental bindings include the so-called “Chinese” bindings and Arabic and Islamic bindings.


A book montage is said to be “Bradel-style” when it comes in the form of a junction with a groove at the jaws to make it easier to open. This faster assembly takes its name from its inventor, the bookbinder François-Paul Bradel, active between 1770 and 17953. Unlike a traditional binding, the ribbons on which the notebooks are sewn are not “cardboard” but cut flush. The body of the book and the cover of the book are secured in the final stage by a simple counter-gluing of the first pages of the cover.

Industrial and office binding

By means of a series of machines developed as early as the first decades of the nineteenth century, such as the press or the pendulum, it is possible to connect books in very large series.

Contemporary binding

Common book design(Scheme of common book design: 1. Belly band 2. Flap 3. Endpaper 4. Book cover 5. Head 6. Fore edge 7. Tail 8. Right page, recto 9. Left page, verso 10. Gutter)

Contemporary binding is a binding made to obtain original and creative aesthetic effects (cross structures, exposed seam, “reported” dishes, etc.). It often adapts to new techniques and exceptional or unusual formats, reinvesting historical techniques and conducting original and personal research on the materials used, whether traditional or modern.

Includes texts translated and adapted from Wikipedia

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