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     Understanding What's Available and What's Best for You.

     By Brandon Rasch, Vice President

     Bookbinding...Literally the term may be defined, from a historical
     viewpoint, as "a process of joining together a number of leaves or
     folios within covers to form a codex or book," (as opposed to a roll or
     scroll). Many well-known works have been gathered in sections to form a
     book=D0The Bible and the Koran to name a few.

     Over thousands of years, this process has evolved to meet ever-changing
     needs of writers, publishers, printers, binders and, most of all, the
     public. From early times bookbinding was a highly respected art form.
     Ancient editions of The Bible represent some extremely ornate
     decorations and have become valuable as collectors' items. The gamut
     therefore ranges from the very valuable to the ten cent novel.

     Actually the ten cent novel is the bookbinding industry's answer to the
     proliferation of books at an economical price. In fairly large
     quantities, some book products can be gathered, bound(glued together)
     and trimmed for approximately ten cents. This form of bookbinding is
     generically known a perfect binding. In reality, perfect binding is one
     of many forms of adhesive binding. According to Webster, adhesion is
     "the act or state of being united." It is "molecular force exerted
     across the surface of contact between unlike liquids and solids which
     resist their separation." Simply put, it means clinging, sticking

     In adhesive binding, the signatures (a group of pages printed on one
     sheet) are gathered in proper sequence; the spine or "backbone" of the
     book receives a "grind" so the adhesive can penetrate into the paper; a
     coating of adhesive material is applied to permanently bond the leaves
     together within the cover.

     The first mention of adhesive binding, as the term is used, appeared in
     a patent issue in 1887 in the United States to Horace L. Arnold. After
     100 years we are now confronted with terms such as Otabind, PUR, EVA,
     Perfect Binding, Lay Flat, Burst Binding, RepKover, Falberg and terms
     so numerous it would be impossible to name them all.

     As a purchaser or seller of these products how do you know what to but
     or sell, when to buy or sell it, and how much should it cost? In the
     following paragraphs I will attempt to concisely explain the answers to
     these questions.

     As mentioned earlier, adhesive binding is a generic term that can be
     used to describe only in general terms the form of a final finished
     product. Within the term "adhesive binding" one would find only four
     major categories of binding: Cold Emulsion, Perfect Binding, PUR
     Binding, and Otabinding (or RepKover).

     Perfect Binding provides page pulls and flex characteristics equal to
     cold emulsion. The few disadvantages can all be overcome through proper
     planning at the design stage. The most important advantage of perfect
     binding is its high speed and relative low cost.

     Cold Emulsion adhesive binding uses a polyvinyl acetate commonly
     dispersed in the form of solid resins and water. The water in the glue
     itself makes it near impossible to bind and trim in-line at high speed,
     even with high frequency dryers. However, as a result of the water base
     of both the glue and the paper, superior flex and pull strength
     characteristics make cold emulsion the most durable method of adhesive

     Perfect Binding is a hot melt adhesive binding. The term itself was
     developed by the Sheridan Bookbinding machinery company in 1911 when it
     attempted to overcome the disadvantages of cold emulsion while
     retaining the desirable characteristics of pull strength and

     The results achieved over the past 80 years have permanently elevated
     perfect binding to its place of prominence. Advances in plastic hot
     melts have driven the market-place to refer to all adhesive binding as
     perfect binding, rather than ranking it simply as part of the adhesive
     binding family.

     Perfect binding with higher end EVA (hot melt) glues provide page pulls
     and flex characteristics equal to cold emulsion. The few disadvantages
     can all be overcome through proper planning at the design stage. The
     most important advantage of perfect binding is its high speed and
     relative low cost.

     PUR Binding is a new term as it refers to bookbinding. Actually, PUR is
     a hot melt adhesive similar to EVA hot melts, but the adhesive is
     manufactured with polyurethane resins (PUR). When the adhesive product
     dries, a natural chemical reaction occurs creating a bond that is
     superior to ordinary hot melts, sometimes as much as two times the
     strength. However, one great disadvantage of PUR is that the books may
     not be tested for strength for 24 hours. Plus, the application
     equipment and adhesives (compared to typical EVA products) are very
     expensive, and the cost may not be recoverable.

     Otabind is a process of binding patented originally by Otavia
     Publishing in 1981 and now licensed by Gerard Hexpoor. Basically, the
     books are gathered; glue is applied to the spine; then, the book block
     is capped covering only the glue. Next, the capping is side-glued, and
     a cover is applied--adhering only to the side glue, detached from the

     This process has been very successfully marketed as a "lay flat
     binding." By having the cover detached from the spine, the books have
     somewhat of a tendency to lay flatter, due to the lack of resistance of
     the cover glued to the spine of the book.

     The disadvantages of Otabind are that the binding equipment is very
     expensive, that the process requires the producer to purchase a license
     from the patent holder, and that generally it is compared to the pull
     and flex tests of perfect binding. The greatest disadvantage is cost.

     We'll take this topic into greater depth in upcoming issues. If you
     have any questions in the meantime, just give me a call. I'd be happy
     to visit with you by telephone.


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>>Drink and be merry, for our time is short and death lasts forever<<

Peter D. Verheyen                                   <wk> 315.443.9937
Conservation Librarian                             <fax> 315.443.9510
Syracuse University Library          <email> pdverhey@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Syracuse University               <www> http://web.syr.edu/~pdverhey/
Syracuse, NY 13244             <listmgr> Book_Arts-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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