16 March 2015

Books and their binding...

Have you noticed that bookbinding is no longer the art it once was? I can understand it in paperback books but hard covers also prevent the opening of a page without it turning back to a closed position. Yes, tight bookbinding makes reading difficult at times.

It is so frustrating when an enthralling story is interrupted by a need to try and force the pages into an open position – a permanent one.  Having rheumy hands doesn’t help although they don’t present a problem at any other time.

The worst time is if I want to read in bed. I can’t read in a sitting position so I have to lie down and hold a book in front of me. Paperbacks are the best, unless I get one that is too tightly bound, in which case I spend half the time forcing the pages to defy the binding. Real problems come with hardbacks. They’re too heavy, you see, and they defy all attempts to keep pages open if the binding is too restrictive.

So, it’s paperbacks in bed and hardbacks in my chair in the lounge where I can use a lap tray to rest the book; this leaves both hands free, one to hold the book and tray steady and the other to stop the pages flipping over while I’m reading.

Book binding skills seem to have gone by the board. From what I can make out they are now glued solid into their covers instead of hand stitched, although I suspect valuable tomes are still bound the old way. Still, it’s only to be expected that cheap methods lead to cheaper products and larger sales. I just wish someone would tell the bookbinders about my hands! 


  1. "From what I can make out they are now glued solid into their covers instead of hand stitched, although I suspect valuable tomes are still bound the old way. "

    Valerie, I think you're exactly correct about that because in the past several years whenever I've purchased a hardback book, not only are they more difficult to open, but oftentimes the pages will fall out (especially after having the book for a few years). And that can only mean that they're glued instead of stitched.

    Yup, true bookbinding is a lost art. And it's probably due to the cost.

    Have a terrific Monday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe

  2. I agree, even though I don't read much anymore.

  3. OMG Ron, having pages drop out is AWFUL. I do remember, way back, having some loose pages in a book and my Dad explained that glue doesn't always 'hold'. Someone else told me that pages can 'pull' out of stitches. Whatever, you don't expect that when you buy a book.

  4. My Dad was in the printing trade and he would have had something to say about the way they're bound these days, too. He was such a perfectionist, a trait I have inherited and which is a mixed blessing.

    I know exactly what you mean. A while ago I was lent a paperback by someone who is fanatical about looking after books and not breaking the spine. That book was bound so tightly that it made my hands ache trying to read it without causing any creases to appear along the spine. I managed it, but it was not a comfortable experience.

    I love paper books, but I often read a Kindle in bed. It's lightweight, you can alter the size of the type, it has a dictionary on board (useful for when I'm reading in Italian) and there is no trouble with page turning or binding!

  5. I agree with Ron - having pages fall out is just terrible.

    But did you know there is a way to open books so that you don't crack the binding? Especially useful for those tightly bound volumes:

  6. I can't stand the books when all the pages seem to be glued in with bad glue and then drop out. Often old paperbacks. I believe it's called "perfect" binding although anything less perfect I cannot imagine!

  7. Hi Jay. Like you, I have suffered with aching hands trying to cope with tightly bound books. I just hope it doesn't put me off reading. I have a kindle but find it difficult to hold after a while - particularly if I want to read in bed. It's okay for reading just one chapter at a time. You have reminded me that I have unread books on the Kindle that I really must get down to reading.

  8. Jay, thanks for the link - I will check it out forthwith.

  9. ha. i am just the opposite...i love a tight binding as it keeps the book crisp and i hold the pages open...i hear you though....i do think that some publishers use poor glue though as i have had pages fall out of my paperback books...

  10. Brian, In my case when the binding is too tight I CAN'T hold the pages open ...smiles.

  11. I had to check out "how to open a new book". I'm proud to say that I knew that (learned it from a book binder, no less!!). I'm also echoing that it SUCKS when pages suddenly fall out. Too much gluing and not enough true book binding. Yes, cost and all that...boy....makes me appreciative of all those books in my collection that really are bound and not 100% glue. And I agree with kindle reading for bedtime. Honestly, I got tired of the struggle with trying to hold my book open one handed. *sigh*


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