Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: LBS binding standard

LBS binding standard

From: Pete Jermann <pjermann>
Date: Wednesday, May 1, 1991
   In the last distlist Richard Frieder addressed the problem of having
books bound commercially without the bottom square.  Eliminating the
bottom square represents a change in procedures, particularly sizing and
fitting the case. As long as these procedures remain novel (less than
10% of the workflow) the binder will add an extra charge.  Part of the
problem here is that we're modifying a traditional binding style in a
non- traditional manner.  The squares on the standard cased binding
actually give the binder a slight margin for error when fitting the case
to the textblock.  Fitting the case without the bottom square requires a
higher degree of precision.  If the case and the bottom of the textblock
are not exactly aligned you either have the edge of the pages extending
beyond the case or your still have a square (although a small one - and
smaller is better).

    Alternate binding styles exist that solve this problem while also
producing a more economical binding.   At St. Bonaventure University we
have adopted as our standard periodical binding a double fan adhesive,
tight backed binding trimmed flush on three sides (no squares anywhere).
In adopting such a binding we are following in a tradition already
established at John Hopkins University (by John Dean) and Cornell (by
John Dean).  Our commercial binder (Ridley's Bindery in Ithaca, NY)
refers to this binding as a quarter binding.  I've also seen this
referred to as a storage binding.  For convenience I will use the term
"quarter binding" for the purposes of this discussion.

   The process of quarter binding a book is more akin to paperback
binding than traditional case binding.  Case binding breaks binding down
into two distinct parallel, processes - preparation of the textblock and
preparation of the case.  These two processes are basically independent
and merge when the case and textblock are assembled at the last step in
the binding process.  All boards, liners, and covering materials must be
custom cut to dimensions determined by the size of the trimmed

   Quarter binding is a linear process in which the cover is built onto
the textblock (standard procedure in the earlier days of bookbinding).
The textblock is milled or trimmed on the spine edge, fan glued with
endsheets added and lined with a cloth.  The boards are then glued onto
the textblock and a F grade buckram (already hot stamped with title and
volume information) is glued onto the spine and overlapping the boards
by about a quarter of their width (hence quarter binding).  Only at the
end of this process is the book trimmed, cover and textblock, in a
single operation.  This process allows the binder to work from stocks of
pre-cut materials as all materials can be put on the book slightly
oversized and then trimmed flush in the final operation.  The result is
a book with no squares and perfect alignment of board and textblock.
Because the process is easily standardized and requires less custom
cutting of materials, quarter bindings are about 1/3 cheaper than
standard library bindings.

   The final product is a book with superior openability, a strongly
reinforced spine (lining cloth and f grade buckram - no paper), and
superior shelvability (no squares).  It is also frightfully ugly (in
traditional terms) as most of the binder's board (depressing gray)
remains exposed and overall the new book resembles a large, unfinished
paperback book.  Aesthetics aside, quarter bindings have served us very
well at St. Bonaventure.  Problems do exist. Periodicals receiving heavy
use (a very small percentage) tend to suffer delamination where the
buckram overlaps onto the board.  These delaminations are easily tacked
back down. Quarter bound books made of floppy, coated papers (Time,
Newsweek, etc.) tend to be slightly floppier on the shelves then their
cased-in counterparts and require good shelving supports (easily
accomplished) and shelving practices (I'd rather not talk about it) to
ensure they remain upright.

   The advantages, however, outweigh the minor disadvantages.  Assuming
it is properly shelved (perpendicular to the shelf and adequately
supported) the quarter bound book is at rest regardless of which edge it
is placed on.  Whether the book is placed on its bottom edge (stressful
for a case binding) or on its foredge (disastrous for a case binding)
makes little difference.  There is no headcap with which the book can be
pulled from the shelf, meaning there is no headcap with which the case
spine can be torn away from the boards.  Quarter bound books open easily
and readily submit to the photocopy machine without damage. Finally, the
price differential allows us to bind more volumes with our fixed amount
of binding dollars.

   Quarter binding represents a significant change from the approved
standard for library binding.  I would certainly be interested in an
open discussion on the Conservation Distlist on the pros and cons of the
library binding standards as established by the Library Binding Service.
Let me offer the first "con" by asserting that the standards seem to
have isolated the binding of the book from its end use.  Its standard
library binding appears to be based on the assumption that all library
books receive heavy and perpetual use and exist in a harsh environment.
Such is frequently not the case and binding all titles on such a basis
represents an unnecessary expense.

     I look forward to your input. Thanks.

Pete Jermann
Preservation Officer
Friedsam Memorial Library
St. Bonaventure University
pjermann [at] sbu__edu

                  Conservation DistList Instance 4:57
                   Distributed: Saturday, May 4, 1991
                        Message Id: cdl-4-57-005
Received on Wednesday, 1 May, 1991

[Search all CoOL documents]