Sunday, March 25, 2018

Converting an adhesive bound paperback to a sewn hardcover

I taught an interesting workshop this weekend. A few of my regular students had asked me about this technique in the past, so we decided to offer a workshop on it. The goal was to convert a glued paperback to a sewn binding with a hardcover. This technique is not meant for small pocket paperbacks but more for larger, heavier books like trade paperback editions, cookbooks, dictionaries and some textbooks where the softcover, adhesive binding has a tendency to crack and break. This is a typical example of what happens to these heavy glued bindings:

We started by taking our books apart and removing as much of the old glue as possible and the pages have to be grouped into sections for sewing. We sewed our textblocks onto flat linen sewing supports as per so many other binding methods. The main difference was the extra whip-stitching used to bind each section of pages. It is not a pretty sewing.

That was the hard stuff. Then it was just a matter of rounding and backing, constructing a case and casing-in like any other case binding. Most of the students in my class had some bookbinding experience but one of the students had never bound a book before and hers turned out beautifully, as did all the others! Most were quarter cloth with marbled paper, and one was bound in full cloth. The blue book in the next photo is the one made by the first-time binder. Pretty impressive. And she marbled that paper herself too!

These ones even got the titles on the spine, which is a nice touch.

And here's the full cloth version, and another of the quarter cloth with marbled paper.

Very impressed with all their finished books!


Scott Thomas said...

I've been looking for a method to convert perfect-bound paperbacks to a sewn hard-cover for some time, and this blog post (about the workshop) was pretty much the only thing I can find. Between the pandemic and the distance, this is not something I could likely attend as a workshop, but I'd be quite happy to pay for a video or printed instruction for this. (I'm familiar with commercial bookbinding processes and many different constructions of books, but have never hand-bound a book.) Is this something you might have available? Much thanks!

MyHandboundBooks said...

Hi there, thanks for your interest in this! Can you email me?

OLEF641 said...

I'm curious about the sewing technique you mention above. Are there details about how to do this? I can't really see enough detail in the photo to see how it's done.