What is a case bound book?

Case bound book produces a hard backed book that is strong and durable such as a commemorative book or a register. Cased-in books are made of grey board and covered with printed and laminated paper. They can also be covered with material such as PVC coated paper, book cloth, leather cloth or real leather.

Case bound book and books printing is the ideal book style of many people pursuing collections of exquisite books. It has also become the promoting way of many merchants who utilizes the qualities of case bound book printing technology, such as its collection value, visual beauty and so on, to promote their own products.

Case bound book have many names – hardbound, hardcover, hardback, bound book ,edition bound book– but they all share the same meaning: quality presentation.

case bound book printing

Most often, a case bound book has five distinctives:

  1. Cover is hard or stiff
  2. Covers are “wrapped”
  3. Smythe sewn sections
  4. Two end papers (inside the covers)
  5. Divided by the spine forms, there are square spine and round spineround spine hardcover book

There are two exceptions:

  • Pages are perfect bound rather than Smythe sewn and then bound into a hard cover
  • Some covers—but very few—may be flexible rather than hard

Anatomy of a case bound book:

case binding book

The image above is a diagram of a case bound book. These are the basic elements of a case bound book:

Headbands are the ribbon that is inserted in the spine and shows at the top and bottom of the spine in the finished book
Headbands are purely decorative (no function) but may lend a vintage or design element to the finished book
Some case bound books have no headbands
About 30% of case bound books have no headband; of those which do, 70% have two headbands and 30% have one headband

End papers, until recently, were always white
Most end papers in case bound books, that we bind, are now coloured
30% of the books, that we bind, are wrapped with printed litho sheets, rather than wrapped in cloth
Over 90% of the case bound books we bind are square-backed rather than round-backed spines

Dust jackets: case wrapped books that are only stamped can look very bland with dust jackets. Dust jackets give the book an esthetic or artistic appeal. The dust jacket sets the mood or tone of the book, positions it within its genre, or provides hard-hitting sales copy.

How a case bound book is made:

A case bound book is laid out digitally page by page using a special layout program. This procedure is called “Imposing the pages,” which produce large sheets that contain 6 or 8 pages per side.These days, this layout is the basis for “etching” the 4 color plates that are used to produce full color printing.For each side of a large press sheet four large metal plates are produced, one for each of the 4 colors used for full color printing: C – Cyan, M – Magenta, Y – Yellow, K – Black. These plates are fitted onto four cylinders which are inked from trays of ink at the top of the cylinder. These are now frequently fitted automatically, but only a few years ago, and still at some printing plants, these sheets were fitted by hand.

The large sheets of paper, called forms, are fed through rollers which are opposite the plates. The rollers press against the plates and transfer the ink which is sitting in the etched pits in the plates, to the paper. Four colors of ink are laid on top of each other as the sheets pass through the press which has 4 sets of rollers and plates .case binding book

End of the press

At the other end of the press the sheets fall into a stack, and a pressman is there watching to make sure the sheets are printing correctly. If the color is not looking correct, they slow down the presses and make the correct color adjustments. Some dust may have gotten onto the press sheets, and the pressmen find it, remove it, and move on. Then once both sides of the forms are printed and the ink is dry, the sheets are folded so that the pages become little booklets 12 or 16 pages long, called “signatures”.

When you look at a press sheet some of the pages will be upside down, some will be right side up, and most of them do not seem to be in the expected order. That’s because they still need to be folded. To get an idea of what this looks like, take a piece of xerox paper and fold it in half starting with it in a horizontal format, then fold the longest side again, and then again.

You now have 16 pages. Put the folded long side on the left. Cut the folds off the other edges. Now draw a little triangle with the pointy end up on the lower outer edge of each page, and inside the triangle put the page number in sequence starting at one, going through 16.

When you unfold the “booklet” you will find some interesting things out about book layout. Notice which pages are right side up and upside down. You will notice some double page spreads are together, most are not. As you study this sheet you will understand a lot more about book production. Every designer should do this exercise!

casebound bookcase bound book

Case Bound Book Design and Layout Services:

Our experienced team also offers high quality layout and design services. We set up your manuscript into a professional format before printing. And our graphics team can also create book cover designs based on your ideas. We also print marketing collateral to promote your book including poster and flyers.


Much wider range of materials to wrap cases
Designers are colour-matching end papers, head bands and ribbons
More unusual sizes are available
More high-end ‘coffee-table’ books are being produced locally rather than in China. Even though delivery time lines from China are shrinking, the increasing demand for even quicker turnaround times, designers’ creative input and last-minute changes account for the move away from use of offshore suppliers.
More add-ons such as various colours of thread in one book; metal corners; fold-outs; step-cutting; box sleeves; edge-staining; foil gilding are available from our firm.