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A Closer Look at Perfect Bound Zines: Design, Binding Techniques, and Tips

Posted on 1 June 2023
Perfect Bound Zine

When it comes to zine production, the binding method you choose can significantly impact the final product’s look and feel. One popular method for binding zines, particularly those with a higher page count, is perfect binding. This method offers a neat, professional finish that can elevate your zine’s aesthetic which can command a higher cover price and allow you scope for more content within. In this post, we’ll delve into the world of perfect bound zines, exploring the design considerations, binding process, and technical tips you need to know.

Understanding Perfect Binding

Perfect binding is a method commonly used in Bookazine printing and for zines with 36 pages or more. This method involves trimming the inside pages into a text block, roughening up the left-hand edges, applying glue, and then wrapping a continuous cover around the text block. The result is a neat, professional-looking zine with a flat spine.

Why Choose Perfect Binding for Your Zine?

Perfect binding offers several advantages that make it an appealing choice for zine creators. You’ve all seen Little White Lies, Shooter and Moof, they are all perfect bound. Firstly, it provides a more high-end, professional look compared to other binding methods. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re creating a zine for a professional context or if you’re aiming for a more polished aesthetic.

Secondly, perfect binding allows for more illustrations, photography and poetry self-publishing and creative writing to be packed in. While wire stitching is suitable for zines with up to 40 pages, perfect binding can accommodate monster zines with up to 300-400 pages. This makes it an excellent choice for more substantial zines or Bookazines.

Finally, perfect binding creates a neat bind, with less bounce and curling on the inside pages compared to wire stitching. This can enhance the reader’s experience, making your zine easier and more enjoyable to read. If your spine is 4mm or thicker there’s even room to add your title, issue number and attention grabbing call to action.

Perfect Bound Zine Binding

Design Considerations for Perfect Bound Zines

When designing a perfect bound zine, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. One of the most important is the page count. Perfect binding is best suited to zines with a minimum of 36 pages. This ensures that there is enough thickness in the text pages for the glue to hold effectively. Attempting to perfect bind a zine with fewer than 36 pages can result in the pages pulling out, as there is not enough glue to hold them in place.

Another crucial consideration is the cover weight. Because of the amount of glue used in perfect binding, the cover needs to be resilient. We recommend a minimum of 200gsm for the cover. Anything thinner, and the glue may seep through, compromising the binding’s effectiveness.

When you come to create your perfect bound zine cover file, check out our dedicated page with super helpful video and illustrated guides plus downloadable InDesign templates to save you some head-scratching.

A Closer Look at Perfect Bound Zines: Design, Binding Techniques, and Tips Ex Why Zed

Finally, it’s important to allow for a 6-8mm hinge on the front and back cover. This ensures that the cover opens neatly and falls flat again. You’ll also need to allow for 6-8mm being lost on the inside front cover and the inside back cover, as well as the first 6-8mm on the spine side of your first and last text page. This area will be obscured by the glue, so it’s important to keep any important content at least 10-12mm away from this side of the page.

You can actually see on our example here that the text starts too close to the 6-8mm area and it is very nearly hidden.

To give you an idea on how big your spine will be, here is a list of spine sizes for common page counts and inside paper types:

Text pages onto 120gsm Uncoated
36pp to 44pp Text = 3mm spine
(ie: if you have 40 pages then you need a 3mm spine)
48pp to 60pp Text = 4mm spine
64pp to 72pp Text = 5mm spine
76pp to 88pp Text = 6mm spine
92pp to 100pp Text = 7mm spine
104pp to 116pp Text = 8mm spine
120pp to 132pp Text = 9mm spine
200pp Text = 14mm spine

Text pages onto 130gsm Silk
36pp to 40pp Text = 2mm spine
44pp to 56pp Text = 3mm spine
60pp to 76pp Text = 4mm spine
80pp to 92pp Text = 5mm spine
96pp to 112pp Text = 6mm spine
116pp to 128pp Text = 7mm spine
200pp Text = 11mm spine

Spine Size for Perfect Bound Zines
Spine gutter on perfect bound zine

When you come to set up the inside pages, lets keep the key information at least 5mm from the trim edges of the page. On the spine side of the page, 2-3mm tends to be slightly obscured unless the reader really force the pages flat. This isn’t a user friendly way to read a book so best to start content on the spine side of the pages at least 8-10mm in. Our image here shows the spine gutter area and you can see the central section is tough to fully read.

This is an example of a superb page layout for a perfect bound book. The text is neatly organised into columns which sit well within the constraints of the page’s parameters. The reader does not have to work hard to read the article and it is punctuated with awesome graphics and subtle page numbers in the bottom, outer corners.

Page Count in Perfect Bound Zines

Perfect Binding: A Recipe for Creativity

Perfect binding offers a world of possibilities for zine creators. This binding method allows for a wide range of designs and layouts, providing a canvas for your creativity and imagination. Whether you’re creating a personal zine or a professional publication, perfect binding can help bring your vision to life.

For more information on perfect binding and other binding options, check out our Perfect Binding Setup Guide and our Binding Options page on our website. These resources provide detailed instructions and illustrated guides to help you prepare your zine for perfect binding.

Perfect Binding in Action: Video Guides

For a visual guide to perfect bound zines, check out our YouTube videos:

FAQs

What is the best binding for a zine?

The best binding for a zine depends on several factors, including the page count, the aesthetic you’re aiming for, and your budget. Perfect binding is a great option for zines with a higher page count and a more professional aesthetic.

What is perfect bound binding?

Perfect bound binding is a method that involves trimming the inside pages into a text block, roughening up the left-hand edges, applying glue, and then wrapping a continuous cover around the text block. The result is a neat, professional-looking zine with a flat spine.

How do you make a perfect bound zine?

You will upload your print ready pdfs to Ex Why Zed. One for the cover spreads and one for the inside pages. We will then give your artwork a preflight check and report back any issues to be ironed out. We strive for perfection in the artwork before we eve consider printing.

What are the reasons that make the perfect binding preferable for binding zines?

When it comes to binding zines, perfect binding emerges as the superior choice. This method bestows your publication with a polished, professional appearance that sets it apart from the rest. It not only accommodates a larger number of pages but also imparts a sturdy bind that stands up to the test of time and use. In contrast to other binding techniques, perfect binding presents a more refined, sophisticated aesthetic, elevating your zine to a higher level of professionalism.

Page Styling in Perfect Bound Zines
Design Considerations for Perfect Bound Zines

What are the characteristics of perfect binding?

Perfect binding is characterised by its neat, flat spine, its resilience and its professional, high-end appearance. This method is also recognised for its capacity to hold a greater number of pages than alternative binding techniques.

What are the features of perfect binding?

Features of perfect binding include a flat spine, a continuous cover that wraps around the text block, and a 6-8mm hinge on the front and back cover. This binding method also requires a minimum of 40 pages and a cover weight of at least 170gsm.

What are the two types of binding a zine?

The two main types of binding for a zine are wire stitching and perfect binding. Wire stitching, also known as stapling, is suitable for zines with up to 40 pages. Perfect binding, on the other hand, is best for zines with a higher page count.

Conclusion

Perfect binding offers a world of possibilities for zine creators, providing a canvas for your creativity and imagination. Whether you’re creating a personal zine or a professional publication, perfect binding can help bring your vision to life. With its neat, professional finish and ability to accommodate a higher page count, perfect binding is an excellent choice for your next zine project.

For more information on perfect binding and other zine printing options, don’t hesitate to contact us at Ex Why Zed. We’re always here to help you bring your creative projects to life.

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