How to Make a Book: 3 DIY Book Binds for Self-Publishing Authors

There’s something special about holding a real-life book in your hands, especially if that book is something you’ve written.

If you’re a self-published author and you dream of seeing your own work in print, you need to learn about bookbinding. Creating a book through the art of bookbinding takes fragmented pages and ideas and turns them into a single object that can be easily distributed and used to drive your brand forward and attract a fan base. 

How to Make a Book: Getting Started with DIY Book Binding

There are many different methods for making books, some of which can be accomplished with just a few special tools and a few hours of your time. However, if you want to scale your bookmaking, it might be better to work with a company that has the team and tools to create hardcover, softcover, or spiral-bound books. In this article, we’ll discuss how such a company could help you, in addition to reviewing three common methods for DIY bookbinding: perfect, spiral, and saddle stitch. 

What Is Book Binding?

Bookbinding is the art and craft of creating physical books by attaching individual pages together within a cover. Bound books are sturdier than loose bundles of paper and easier to share or sell. Bookbinding can be leveraged at scale for mass printings of popular books or attempted as a personal hobby.

Whether you want to create a book for fun or decoration, or you’re looking to print multiple copies of a piece of writing, this article is for you. 

DIY Book Binding Supplies You Will Need

When you’re setting out to DIY book binding by hand, there are a few standard instruments you’ll need to have around. Of course, not all DIY book binding tutorials require these items, and some tutorials might require more tools, but this list is an excellent place to start. 

  • Glue — Glue could be used to attach the cover of your book to the spine or create the cover itself. Either way, this is a good item to have before you start your bookbinding project. 
  • Ruler — Look at any book you own, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any part of it that isn’t precisely measured and cut. You can make sure your own homemade book looks just as precise by having a quality ruler that’s sturdy enough and long enough for your book project. 
  • X-Acto Knife — You’ll be cutting a lot of paper in nearly any bookbinding tutorial you find, and it’s helpful to have an X-Acto knife around to get accurate cuts. 
  • Cutting Mat — To save your tables and counters from damage, you’ll also want to invest in a cutting mat that’s made to protect anything it’s lying on top of. Self-healing cutting mats are helpful as they’re specifically designed to withstand lots of use. 
  • Pencil — A pencil is great to have on hand to indicate where you need to cut or create holes. 
  • Paper — You can’t make a book without paper, so you’ll need to have a good amount of it. If you’re creating a blank notebook, you can use just about any paper, even patterned varieties. If you’re binding your own work, you’ll need to have it in a printed format. 

3 DIY Book Binding Options

Making a book isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take some research and preparation. In this section, we’ll go over three popular bookbinding options and give you high-level instructions for making each type of book. 

Saddle-stitch binding, perfect binding, and spiral binding are all types of bookbinding you’ve probably seen in your day-to-day life. The saddle-stitch method is often favored for shorter pieces, such as magazines, comic books, and event calendars. Perfect, aka paperback, binding is likely what many of the books on your shelves use. Lastly, spiral binding is popular for notebooks, business reports, and company handbooks. We’ll walk through what each option is in more depth. 

Saddle Stitching

Counter to what you might be expecting from the name, most commercially made saddle-stitch books are assembled using staples—though our tutorial later on will show you a method that uses needle and thread. Saddle-stitched books are cost-effective and quick to make, though they don’t last as long as other book types. 

Perfect Binding

You’re likely more familiar with the look of perfect binding, which is another way of describing softcover books. Perfect-bound books are also relatively inexpensive and offer an attractive way to display your work. However, the spine and cover of perfect-bound books can be damaged.

Spiral Binding

Spiral-bound books are created by weaving a coiled plastic or metal wire through holes punched along the side of a sheaf of paper. This bookbinding method is easy and low-cost to print, even in small amounts. A potential downside is that you may not be able to release spiral-bound books through major distribution methods. 

DIY Book Binding Steps

Making books is a rewarding craft that can provide you with beautiful works of art for your own enjoyment or for gifting others. Below, we’ll describe what goes into creating each type of book. 

Saddle Stitching

For a saddle-stitched book, you’ll need most of the common items reviewed above, plus an awl or another tool for cutting holes, a needle and thread, binding clips, and wax. With your materials gathered, here is the general process: 

  1. Compile all the pages of your book into one bundle and top them with the cover. 
  2. After making sure the stack is neat, secure all the pages with the clips. 
  3. Next, mark the spine of the book right down the middle of the stack of paper. 
  4. With your pencil, create five marks on the line you just created and use your tool of choice to puncture holes on each of these marks. 
  5. Take thread that you’ve already waxed and insert it into your needle before sewing through the holes you created. You’ll use a saddle stitch for this step. 
  6. Finally, fold your book in half along the spine you created and sewed. Cut off any excess paper on your book if desired. 

View this full tutorial and learn how to do a saddle stitch on Bookbinding Workshops Singapore

Perfect Binding

You might not think of a paperback book as something you can make by hand, but it can be done. In addition to some of the common materials we’ve already talked about, you may need some bookbinding clips and a bone scorer or bone folder, which is a tool that helps you fold paper.

  1. The first thing you’ll do is assemble all your pages by folding a larger piece of paper in half and cutting them to make individual pages. This step is where you’ll use the bone scorer. 
  2. Once you have all your pages, you’ll secure them together with your clips. 
  3. Next, apply glue all over the side of your book that will be the spine. Spread multiple layers as needed and let dry completely.
  4. You can create the cover as the glue is drying. For a stiffer cover, use cardstock or another heavier paper. You will need a back, a front, and a thin piece of material to cover the spine. 
  5. You’ll use these pieces, along with more decorative paper and some blank endpapers, to make the whole cover.
  6. Once the cover is assembled, you’ll glue your book inside, placing it under something heavy as it dries. 

Spiral Binding

Spiral-binding books is easier with a machine, but it can be done by hand, as this tutorial shows. 

  1. First, make the cover out of cardboard cut to desired dimensions. Leave the cover bare or cover it with decorative paper. 
  2. Next, assemble your inner pages, keeping the total number to around 40 pages maximum for the best quality. 
  3. Using your ruler and pencil, indicate a line that you’ll use as a guide for punching holes. 
  4. Use a hole-punching tool to create closely-spaced holes along this line on all of your sheets of paper and the front and back covers. 
  5. Once your pages are all hole-punched, gather and align all the pieces and clip them firmly on all sides but the spine. 
  6. Create a spiral of wire by coiling it around a pen or another long, thin implement. 
  7. Lastly, weave your pages together with the wire and fold over the ends of the wire to secure it. 

For more detailed instructions, view this tutorial on wikiHow

How to Make a Book with the Help of Print Bind Ship

When you’re ready to scale your book production beyond just a few handmade items, you can reach out to a company such as Print Bind Ship to explore printing and bookbinding services. 

Print Bind Ship is an experienced third-party logistics provider (3PL) that offers businesses a range of services from printing and bookbinding to packaging solutions and global shipping. For self-published authors, in particular, Print Bind Ship can help to boost your brand, improve customer loyalty, and increase sales opportunities through hardcover and softcover book printing, custom packaging, subscription boxes, and more. 

Book Editing, Shipping, and More

Seeing your name and your ideas in print can be the experience of a lifetime for a budding author. With a company like Print Bind Ship, you can have a partner in the entire process of book creation, including formatting, printing, binding, and beyond.

The book creation starts with your completed, edited manuscript. While proper formatting is a best practice before you send your work to a printer, a company such as Print Bind Ship can assist with formatting and work with you to finalize the product before printing. When you move on to the printing step, especially if you’re new to this process, you should stay in contact with the printing company and over-communicate your needs, so you get the kind of results you’re expecting. 

You’ll have multiple options for binding your book, including some of the methods we’ve discussed in this article, but the company you work with to bind your book should be able to advise you on the best strategy for your project. 

If you work with a company that only does bookbinding, you may need to handle the distribution yourself. However, if you choose to work with a 3PL such as Print Bind Ship, books can be printed on demand and shipped globally.

Custom Packaging and Subscription Boxes

Think of famous authors and the branding of their book series. You’d recognize the Harry Potter branding a mile away—and the same goes for many other popular authors. This is just one reason it’s crucial for you as an author to have a solid brand that extends beyond just the covers of your books. Custom labels and packages that coordinate instead of clashing with your brand can make you stand out in a crowded marketplace. When people receive a package from you with custom printing on it, they’ll begin to associate your brand with an attractive design. Not only that, but your customer’s friends and neighbors will also notice and begin to recognize your branding. 

Print Bind Ship: Your Expert Resource for Bookbinding

Taking yourself seriously as a self-publishing author is a big step. Ultimately, becoming a self-publishing author means investing in products and partnerships that will further your personal brand. 

If you’re still wondering how to get started, Print Bind Ship has experts that can help. You can discuss your bookbinding and printing needs as well as other services that could advance your career. 

Take advantage of our free consultations and get in touch with one today. Happy publishing!