In the durable oversewn method, small groups of pages are close stitched, then stitched to the next small grouping. When all pages have been stitched, the raw book is then glued and reinforced with woven fabric. The hardbound ALA book also meets or exceeds the Library Binding Institute standards for a Class A library binding. That said, each author and book project have different needs and every bindery used produces fine books, whether they are oversewn, sewn in a different method, or primarily utilize adhesive (glue).
Recommended Project Specifications for this type of hard cover
Minimum size (HxW) 5.5x8.5"
Maximum size (HxW) 11x14x3"
For many years, oversewing has been widely recognized as the cornerstone of library binding. Traditional oversewing provides an extremely strong, durable, and relatively economical method of binding. Many library binders have chosen oversewing as their preferred method of leaf (page) attachment. Oversewing is an excellent method of leaf attachment, as long as the paper condition is good and the inner margin is adequate. Because of the foundation and guiding goals of Library Oversewn/Class A binding, it is and also excellent choice for re-binding.
Machine oversewing was first introduced in 1920 and has since become the primary method of leaf attachment used by library binders. This method, whether utilized by hand or machine, requires that each book be divided into small sections of individual pages or leaves.
With rebinds, this is often accomplished by milling or cutting the spine of each book to remove the glue and/or original sewing. In some cases, a binder may elect to take a book apart by hand with a knife. This operation accomplishes the task of dividing the book into small sections (approximately 8-20 pages each) without loss of inner margins and generally results in an extra charge. Books receiving normal spine preparation on a milling machine lose up to 1/8 inch of their inner margin. Precautions must be taken to insure that all books designated for oversewing have remaining inner margins (after spine milling) which have a minimum of ½ inch. After spine preparation, the books are ready for the machine oversewing process.
Sections of the book are placed into the machine at a 45 degree angle and are then clamped. Vertical punches (spaced 1 inch apart) punch holes through the pages of each section. Threaded needles pass through the punched holes, enter through the spine, and exit the section approximately 3/16 inch in from the back edge of the page. Horizontal shuttle needles then pass through each of the separately formed thread loops and complete the stitch. The process is repeated to form successive lock stitches up the spine of the book and combined with the hard cover case.
Major Advantages of Oversewing:
Versatility - any book
size between 5.5x8.5" and 11x14", and up to three inch thickness
can be machine oversewn with some machinary (Gregath suggests no more
than 400 pages/200 sheets per book).
Strength - lock stitch sewing provides exceptional strength and maximum flexibility.
All cover services are available as part of a complete publishing package, POD (small quantity charges may apply), and binding only.
Sources for this section:
Methods of Affixing Leaves: Options and Implications, Paul Parisi
ANSI/NISO/LBI Standard for Library Binding
American Library Association (ALA)
Basic Gregath Search
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