Commercial Book Bindings…

I’ve been really curious about different types of book bindings. I have gathered some wonderful information and a few photos pertaining to several different types of commercial book bindings. 

Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It also usually involves attaching covers to the resulting text-block. 


A mass market paperback (MMP or MMPB) is a small, usually non-illustrated, and inexpensive bookbinding format. They are commonly released after the hardback edition, and often sold in non-traditional bookselling locations such as airports, drug stores, and supermarkets, as well as in traditional bookstores. Many titles, especially in the area of genre fiction, are first editions in paperback and never receive a hardcover printing. This is particularly true of first novels by new authors. Mass market paperbacks (pulp paperbacks) are small (16mo size), cheaply made and often fall apart after much handling or several years. 

A trade paperback (TPB), sometimes referred to as a trade paper edition, is a standard-sized or large-sized paperback book. If it is a softcover edition of a previous hardcover edition, and, if published by the same publishing house as the hardcover, the text pages are normally identical to the text pages in the hardcover edition, and the book is usually the same size as the hardcover edition. The only difference is the soft binding; the quality of the paper is usually higher than that of a mass market paperback. Trade paperbacks are more sturdily made, usually larger, and more expensive. 


A hardcover, hardback, or hardbound is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). They may have flexible sewn spines which allow the book to lie flat on a surface when opened, although most modern commercial hardcover books have glued spines. 

Thermal Binding uses a one piece cover with glue down the spine to quickly and easily bind documents without the need for punching. Individuals usually purchase “thermal covers” or “therm-a-bind covers” which are usually made to fit a standard letter size sheet of paper and come with a glue channel down the spine. The paper is placed in the cover, heated in a machine (basically a griddle), and when the glue cools, it adheres the paper to the spine. Thermal glue strips can also be purchased separately for individuals that wish to use customized/original covers. However creating documents using thermal binding glue strips can be a tedious process which requires a scoring device and a large format printer. 


Library binding refers to the hardcover binding of serials and paperback books intended for the rigors of library use. Though many publishers have started to provide “library binding” editions, many libraries elect to purchase paperbacks and have them rebound as hardcover books, resulting in longer life for the material. 


An advance review copy, also known as an advance reading copy or ARC, is a copy of a book released by its publisher before the book has gone to press for a complete printing. ARCs generally do not have the final dust jacket, formatting or binding of the finished product; the text of an ARC may also differ from that of the published book if the book is edited after the ARC is produced.
Publishers also produce uncorrected bound proofs, also known as galley proofs, in advance of publication. Galley proofs were historically only used in the editing and proof-reading process, but publishers have recently begun to use them as ARCs. These galley proofs may have bindings and illustrations similar to that of the final copy, unlike old-style galley proofs which were usually bound in plain paper covers and without illustrations. Galley proofs differ from ARCs in that ARCs are printed in full colour and in the same format as a published book, while galley proofs are generally printed in black and white and are significantly larger in size than most books.

Hand Binding (below) 



If you found this post helpful, I’d love to hear from you! 

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy 


Sources: please see below


10 thoughts on “Commercial Book Bindings…

  1. Hi Kathy (bermudaonion),

    Thanks. I know, I feel the same way, but I read so many romance novels that I can’t seem to avoid the mass market paperbacks. I’m as gentle with the MMP’s as I can be and they have lasted fairly well so far.
    I love the perfect paperbacks the best (as far as paperbacks go)…but I couldn’t find much information on them.

  2. Hi NotNessie,

    I’m glad that you found this post interesting. It’s amazing really; all the different options for binding books and I only covered some of the basics in this post.
    Wouldn’t you just love to have your personal library all bound in Library Bindings? I know that I would! :-)

  3. This was very interesting! Thanks for posting about this. I can see why MPB’s aren’t as durable and why I prefer the Trade Paperbacks. It was also interesting to read of the differences between the ARC’s and Galley Copies.

  4. Hi Allison,

    I’m glad you liked it.
    It’s incredible really, how many different binding options are available. There is a big difference in the quality and therefore the life of the books.

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