Library Binding vs Hardcover – Which Is the Best?

When selling or buying books, one of your first decisions will be to choose the right type of cover or binding. You can use a variety of binding techniques to ensure that the book is protected and kept together. There are many binding options available: hardback, paperback, trade bindings and library bindings. You also have the option to choose between sewn, stapled, stapled, bound books, glued, binder, or binder books. 

Library binding and hardcover, out of all of the different types of binding available, are among the most tough and durable. How do these different binding methods differ? 

We compare library binding and hardcover guides so that you can choose which type of book to buy. 

Library Binding and Hardcover

It is important to properly bind a book. This can have a significant impact on how comfortable you are reading it, its durability, and overall appearance. When you shop for books, or want to have a book that you created printed out, you will find the best binding options available.

Let’s take a closer look at the main differences between these book binding methods So you can choose which one. 

What does Library Binding mean?

The library binding is an extremely durable type of binding. It is for books meant to be used in libraries. This binding is durable and strong enough to withstand years of repeated use by many readers.

The most robust form of binding is library bound. This binding gives the book a hard, durable exterior with a slight rough texture. The bookends are firmly attached, which creates an indentation along the edges. You can choose to have library binding with a hard cover and book marking on the bookend or with decorative full-color photos all over. 

Library binding can also be used to create books. In some instances, donated books are rebound and then covered with a library-bound book cover. This is an excellent way to strengthen paperbacks or repair damaged ones. 

This form of binding might be intended for library settings but is often used for other types of applications such as children’s books. 

Different types of library binding

books in library

Two types of library binding are available: after-market binding and original binding.

Original Library Binding

This type of binding is for books originally printed for library purposes. Many times, library bindings are used to create a limited number of books. The books made for commercial use will have a different appearance. Original library bindings are more durable and can be used more often than books intended for commercial purposes.

After-Market Librarian Binding

When books are reprinted for library use in after-market binding, they can be made from paperback or hardcover prints. This binding is often requested by libraries to improve the durability and strength of books so that many people can read them without causing damage. 

Library Binding Materials

Although there are many options for covering library binding materials, most libraries use buckram. Buckram is made from 100% cotton and is often coated with acrylic – a type of coating that is UV resistant, water resistant, mold resistant, and insect resistant. 

Buckram is usually fixed to binder’s board. Although this board is dense, some library-bound book can be bound with either four-drinier or laminated boarding.

Library binding methods

Different methods can be used to bind library books together so they won’t fall out over time. Let’s take a look at some of the options for library binding.

The Fold: Sewing through the Fold

Sewing Through the Fold Binding

This binding allows you to print a number of pages and fold them in half. The folds of the signature (the group of paper sheets) are then sewn together – often by hand. To make a firm, bound book from all the signatures in the book, they are put together again and stitched by machine. The book will lay flat on your desk when it is opened, making them desirable.


This is a common method for old books that need to be restored. It can either be done by hand, or by machine. Sewn at the bottom of each page are the loose pages. This binding is strong but won’t allow the book to lay flat on a table.

Side sewing

All pages can be side-sewn by stacking them together. The machine then makes holes in the book along its margins or edges. These pages can also be sewn together using the machine. The binding is firm, but books won’t lay flat on a desk. 

What is Hardcover Binding and How Does It Work?

hardcover binding

The binding that you will find on books sold in stores is called hardcover. Hardcover protects interior pages with a thick cover. The binding of a hardcover book is usually done by stitching pages together, and then gluing them to the spine. You can choose to cover your book with leather-covered or fabric-covered cardboard. Hardcover books’ interior pages are usually thicker than those in paperback. This gives the book more durability and strength, and it is often a hallmark of higher-quality books.

Dust jackets are common for hardcover books. A dust jacket, which is usually removable, often features the cover design. The dust covers often have writer biographies and a teaser about the book. This dust cover helps protect your hardcover, so that it lasts longer. 

Hardcover binding materials

A high-density binderboard is used to create hardcover books. The binder board can then be layered with gloss boards, leather, buckram or heavy paper. This gives the material a beautiful look and is very long-lasting. 

Techniques for Hardcover Binding

There are many ways to keep the pages together in these books, just like library binding. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular methods.

Case Binding

This is the most commonly used form of hardcover binding. This involves the printing of pages in an order that forms signatures. These can then be folded down and sewn along this line. The individual signatures of the signatories are then joined together to create a book. When the book is opened, it will lie flat on any surface.

Binding with Double-Fan Adhesive

Polyvinyl acetate glue This binding is made with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). To keep the pages together, the pages are lined up. A small amount of glue is placed around the edges to hold them together. This binding can cause pages to start falling apart over time, but it will still lay flat when the book is opened.

Sew More

The sides of the pages are sewn together as with library binding to hold all pages together. This method forms a solid bind but the book won’t stay open when laid on a desk.

Smyth Sewing

This is often used for library binding. The machine can be used to stitch all pages at the same edge. These pages can be opened flat unlike library books. The margins are much wider than those of library books. 

The Final Thoughts on Library Binding and Hardcover

This guide on library binding and hardcover will assist you in choosing the correct binding option to ensure your books last decades.

Ultimately we feel that library binding can be the most durable binding method and is ideal for books that endure frequent wear and tear, but this form of binding doesn’t offer the same luxury feel as hardcover books. Hardcover books can be a lot more beautiful since the hardcover can be made from a wide range of materials, but they won’t hold up quite as long. 

Bos Mag also has many other guides to help with book shopping and for advice. Our guides will help you find the best books and give you the best advice to improve your reading experience.