The designation "case binding" or "casebound" indicates that the cover has two distinct characteristics: it is made separately from the book, and it consists of rigid or flexible boards covered with cloth, paper, leather substitutes, and, upon occasion, leather or other materials, in such a manner that the covered material surrounds the outside as well as the edges of the boards.
The major distinguishing characteristic of edition binding is the extensive use of semi-automatic and automatic equipment, some of which operates at very high speeds. This equipment is capable of processing thousands of books in a relatively short time, primarily because all of the books processed in one run are of identical size and format. Because a large, modern edition bindery uses as much automatic (and expensive) equipment as possible, edition runs smaller than about 1,500 copies are not ordinarily handled by edition binderies but by job binders and sometimes even library binders.
The equipment commonly found in a large edition bindery includes:
Blocking presses Board cutters Book jacketing machines Bundling presses Case-making machines Casing-in machines Cloth slitting machines Cutter-perforating machines Endpaper-signature stripping machines Endpaper tipping machines Folding machines Gathering machines Glueing-off machines Nipping presses Rounding and backing machines Saddle-stitching machines Sewing machines Three-knife trimmers Tipping machines Triple liner and headbanding machines Wrapping machines (book jacketing machines).
The progression of modern edition binding from purely handwork to a high degree of mechanization followed a course which may be divided into four fairly distinct phases: 1) all processes performed by hand or hand-manipulated tools—about 1780 to 1830; 2) a simplifying and speeding up of the processes while the work is still performed largely with hand tools, a change which was due largely to the pressures exerted by the increased speed of printing presses to 1870; 3) progressive introduction of machines to handle certain manipulations, e.g., folding, gathering, sewing, etc., with the balance of the processes still being done largely by hand to 1910; and 4) the present state in which the great majority of the processes are performed by machines, a phase which marks the complete breaking away of the modern industry from the parent craft of hand bookbinding—about 1950 to the present. (58 , 89 , 299 , 314 , 320 , 339 )