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Perfect Bound Books

While every binding method has its strong points, perfect bound books are the only option that give you a professional softcover-style booklet like you find in bookstores. Perfect binding is the method of choice for self publishers who want their books to convey the same authority and professionalism as their pro-published colleagues. They're also the only binding option that allows you to print on the spine, which makes it simple to shelve and display your books for home or retail.

NEW: Mail Books in Padded Envelopes
  1. Price out the printing as normal
  2. Select Bulk Mailing - Ship in Padded Envelopes
  3. Upload your Excel or CSV file with your artwork
Compared to hardcover books, perfect bound booklets have very little setup and material cost. This means you get way more book for your buck and a wider margin to markup your booklets for resale.

What is Perfect Binding?

Perfect bound booklets are created with a strong glue that holds your inside pages into the spine:

  • Inside pages are printed on your choice of paper while the covers print on a heavy cardstock.
  • Printed sheets are loaded into the perfect binding machine.
  • Covers are scored and folded to create the spine, and the inside pages are bonded firmly with a heavy-duty, fast-hardening binding glue.
The edges are then trimmed to create a "perfect" book, where the inside pages and cover meet in a clean, square angle.

Designing a Perfect Cover

Setting up the cover sheet for a perfect bound booklet can be an arduous task for non-design professionals. Fear not! This tutorial addresses thebasic setup of the cover as well as how to determine the spine width and print area. Please be aware that some books are not thick enough to print on the spine. This depends on your page count as well as the thickness/weight of your paper.

Perfect Bound Booklets: Cover Setup Help

Perfect Bound Books: How They're Made

Watch a short video on how we assemble perfect bound books:

"The perfect bound books look great and I appreciate how easy it is to do business with Docucopies. I like being able to make an order in the middle of the night and not have to talk to anyone, or wait for the business to open in the morning. The shipping feature on the website is also clear about when I can expect to receive the books. You are my favorite printing company!"Sarai J. - CA

"I have been using DocuCopies for almost a year now. Love it...this last project was a book for my church. They could not believe the sharpness of the colors and the pictures. All the members loved it. It was for the 75th Church Anniversary and it was certainly a HIT! Kudos to you all. This has made publishing so much easier for JCB Printing and Design. Glad I found you."Daisy W. - NC

"Recently, I submitted a huge order for "perfect binding" books to you all after having a bad experience with my normal printer. I was extremely nervous having never used Docucopies before but I took a HUGE gamble and went for it. I'm so glad I did. From start to finish, I was beyond pleased with the service. My customer service rep, Annie, went above and beyond to make sure my book was perfect. She even noticed some subtle mistakes, made sure I was aware of them and directed me in correcting them. The digital booklet is what really won me over. Being able to see the book exactly as it would be printed put my mind at ease. You all have a new, faithful customer. Thanks for making my experience and my order pleasant and perfect."Kimberly W. - LA

"Being in charge of the yearbook each year is very stressful because I want them to be perfect for everyone. Your staff is always patient with my hysteria and I am always pleased with the end result. I appreciate talking to live support staff with any questions or concerns that I have. Thank you again!"Kim F. - ME

"My friend Carolyn (owns MATINE) referred me to you. I trust her completely, so I didn't really shop around! My catalog came out better than I thought and I look forward to using you every year when I need a new catalog."Meredith A. - DC

See all testimonials
Perfect Binding Margin

Binding Margin

To avoid compromising the spine / glue we recommend you have a minimum .50"-.75" binding margin depending on the number of pages in your book. If you have less margin than this, then you may have to press the book more flatter to see all the contents of the page which may damage the binding.

If you are worried how the margins on your book will look, we recommend ordering a hard copy proof so you can see a physical copy and make any necessary changes before we print all of your books.

Cover / Spine Setup

All perfect bound books can have printed spines, but the number of pages in the book determines if you can have text printed on the spine. To see how thick your spine should be or if you can have text on it, visit our perfect book cover setup page.

Perfect Book Cover Tutorial

Page Numbers

If you have page numbers in your file and are printing double sided, it is recommended to have alternating page numbers so they stay on the outer edges of the book. If you have your page numbers all on the left or right side of your pages, then half of the page numbers will be in the gutter of the book making it hard to navigate. For a professional look when printing double sided, alternate the location of the page numbers.

Why should I print perfect bound booklets?

There are many benefits to choosing perfect binding for book projects. They look incredibly professional yet cost a fraction of hardcover binding. If you want to sell your books retail, this is usually the best option since you can print on the spine (if it's wide enough), which makes it easy to index and display your perfect bound books on shelves.

Perfect binding creates a professional, softcover-style book, which is ideal for books which are read for pleasure (novels, memoirs, etc.). Hobby readers don't need to worry about books laying flat on a surface or being resistant to water and grease.

However if you're publishing technical training books, yearbooks, cookbooks, or any project that requires flat-surface reading or additional protection (laminated covers, vinyl backings, etc.), you should consider one of our other book binding options:
View All Book Types

How do I design covers and spines for perfect binding?

Perfect bound books require special setup for the covers, since the front and back cover (and spine, when applicable) are all part of the same sheet.

Please refer to this page to get more information about calculating your spine width and setting up perfect bound booklet covers:
Perfect Bound Cover Setup

How many pages can a perfect bound booklet contain?

In our experience, very thin perfect bound books may not look or feel as good, or be as durable, as thicker books because there is not enough of a surface area to glue the pages into the spine. Our order form will allow perfect bound booklets as small as 10 sheets, but we recommend you consider other binding options first if you're in that range.

On the other end, 446 is the maximum number of 20/50# Bond sheets we can fit into a perfect book. As you go up in paper thickness, that threshold will go down incrementally. The cost calculator will let you know if your book is too thick.

How do I avoid show-through to the backside of my pages?

For 100% opacity and virtually no show-through, we recommend the 32/80# Text Smooth/Gloss or higher.

For books where most of the content is text, most people are happy with 28/70# Text Smooth. This is a mid-weight paper and has minimal show-through, which is much less noticeable with text-oriented pages where the text is more or less aligned back-to-back.

Will I receive a digital proof before you print my perfect booklets?

In most cases, we do not automatically send a digital proof, so make sure to request this in the notes if you want one.

But there are some cases in which we must send a proof and receive approval before we can print:

  • Files which are not JPG, PNG or PDF
  • Any time you request file edits
  • If we happen to notice something that doesn't look right

Can you mail my perfect bound books?

Yes we can. On the order form, click Bulk Mailing and choose "Mail in Padded Envelopes." Upload your mailing list (Excel or CSV) with your print files at checkout. We will print and bind each book, insert them individually in protective envelopes and mail them out typically in 3-5 business days. The exact USPS service used will depend on each book's weight. Please note that this service may not include tracking information.

Quote / Order
Printing Specs
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Choose the next paper size up above and enter your custom width and height.

We will contact you if there are any issues with your size request.

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Click here for help choosing your paper

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You have multiple pages. Single or double sided?
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* Special file setup is needed. View

Covers Remove
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* Special file setup is needed. View

Finishing Options

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These specs = shrink wrapped sets.

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