Pedro came to me with the problem that he wanted to publish books relating to art, in an archival manner. He had printing equiptment, but lacked a way to bind the books in a satisfactory manner - he had found that the glue on perfect bound books often fell apart within a few years.

Sewing signatures by hand seemed one alternative, as buying a machine to do this seemed out of the question, but the amount of time required kept this from being cost effective.

Many pulp paperbacks at the turn of the century were printed in signatures, but stapled, through the center margin of all the pages, very close to the spine, with some sort of machine, using staples very similar to those used in staple guns. They staples were closed on the back, and very light cardstock cover (of the sort used on a paperback) was glued on.

The staples on these books rusted a little, and they ultimately fell apart, mostly because of the high acid content of the paper.

Though not the ideal binding method, this seems like a reasonable way to bind a book in a more stable way than a perfect binding, without the cost of a sewn binding. One must use at least three staples (three points determine a plane) Well, not quite. As ariels was kind enough to suggest, "but only if not on the same line ! In the binding, they are (well,if *I* did it they wouldn't be, but I'm sure YOU do it the right way...). I think 2 staples don't work well just because it tends to "gap" between them." For smaller books, two staples will work well. But for larger books, 3 or perhaps even four staples will be necessary. Also, the book should be made with acid free paper (otherwise the paper will deteriorate, and break when one opens the book). And this is not a truly archival method... but with stainless steel staples, it would be. Find me stainless steel staples for a staple gun, and I will love you forever.

Note: for a shorter pamplet, one could use regular staples, provided that they were long reach. And if you are going to use regular staples, spend the little extra and go with stainless steel staples - they are available at most decent retailers of archival supplies.

The Method

First, the pages that are to be the book block, unmarred: (just imagine that it is a stack of pages, mmmkay?)

                    ___________________________
                   /                          /|
                  /                          / |
                 /                          /  |
                /                          /   /
               /                          /   /
              /                          /   /
             /                          /   /
            /                          /   /
           /                          /   /
          /                          /   /
         /                          /   /
        /                          /   /
       /                          /   /
      /                          /   /
     /                          /   /
    /                          /   /
   /                          /   /
  /                          /   /
 /__________________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/

Then mark the spots where the staples will go (three shown here, the minimum, five would also work well. Staple about 1/4 inch from the spine, and a half inch from the top or bottom. Center the middle staple, well, in the center. If you are using five (or more) staples, center those between the three existing ones.
                    ___________________________
                   /                          /|
                  / X                        / |
                 /                          /  |
                /                          /   /
               /                          /   /
              /                          /   /
             /                          /   /
            /                          /   /
           /                          /   /
          / X                        /   /
         /                          /   /
        /                          /   /
       /                          /   /
      /                          /   /
     /                          /   /
    /                          /   /
   /                          /   /
  / X                        /   /
 /__________________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/

Have fun with that staple gun! BAM! BAM! BAM! The best way to do this would be on a board with a tiny slit in it for the staples to go into, aligned so that the staples would go through the pages and the ends go into the slit, not the board. This way, the book block would be supported, but the staples would not be stuck in it.

(oooh! book block with staples! surprisingly similar to previous!)
                    ___________________________
                   /                          /|
                  / /                        / |
                 / /                        /  |
                /                          /   /
               /                          /   /
              /                          /   /
             /                          /   /
            /                          /   /
           / /                        /   /
          / /                        /   /
         /                          /   /
        /                          /   /
       /                          /   /
      /                          /   /
     /                          /   /
    /                          /   /
   / /                        /   /
  / /                        /   /
 /__________________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/
On the back of the book, the staples will be sticking out. Fold them over, just like a regular stapler would, using pliers or a hammer. The optimal length for staples is so that the ends barely touch when folded closed.
                    ___________________________
                   /                          /|
                  / |                        / |
                 / |                        /  |
                /                          /   /
               /                          /   /
              /                          /   /
             /                          /   /
            /                          /   /
           / |                        /   /
          / |                        /   /
         /                          /   /
        /                          /   /
       /                          /   /
      /                          /   /
     /                          /   /
    /                          /   /
   / |                        /   /
  / |                        /   /
 /__________________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/
With the staples folded down, the bottom of the book block will look a lot like the top:
                    ___________________________
                   /                          /|
                  / /                        / |
                 / /                        /  |
                /                          /   /
               /                          /   /
              /                          /   /
             /                          /   /
            /                          /   /
           / /                        /   /
          / /                        /   /
         /                          /   /
        /                          /   /
       /                          /   /
      /                          /   /
     /                          /   /
    /                          /   /
   / /                        /   /
  / /                        /   /
 /__________________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/

Now attach a cover of some sort, either by folding a sheet of paper (or light cardstock) in the same way as a dust jacket is folded on a hardcover book, or by folding something like the wraps on a softcover book and gluing it on. If you are going to go the route of a dust jacket, it would be preferable to use cardstock, folded just to the right (on top, and left on the bottom), of the line of staples, to give the dj something to hang on to.

It is not as archival as a sewn binding, but it will be reasonably good, and relatively easy to take apart should someone ever choose to rebind it.


And then a little addition, due to another question!:
How to keep the staples from showing so much?

One solution (the one that I will illustrate here) requires the use of a medium weight wraps type cover, preferably using some sort of two ply card or board. (The board need not be heavy, just two ply.) Cut the cover so that it fits on the book, folding it in a total of five places - the two edges of the spine - fold these using a ruler and a bone folder. The other two folds are along the exact line that the staples make, or even a tiny bit past them. These folds should be done without a bone folder, so that the line is not so crisp, and so, hopefully, the outer ply separates a bit there - creating a crease and masking the staples.

The cover should then be glued on with either wheat paste or neutral pH PVA - not just gluing the spine, but also the ends of the book block, up to the point that the covers cover the staples. Thus, the cover is glued over the staples, covering them.

This shows what the book would look like with the cover open, vertical:

                     /|
                    / |
                   /  |
                  /   |
                 /    |
                /     |
               /      |
              /       |
             /        |
            /         |
           /          |
          /           |
         /            |
        /             |
       /              |
      /               |
     /                |_________________________
    |                 /                       /|
    |                /                       / |
    |               /                       /  |
    |              /                       /   /
    |             /                       /   /
    |            /                       /   /
    |           /                       /   /
    |          /                       /   /
    |         /                       /   /
    |        /                       /   /
    |       /                       /   /
    |      /                       /   /
    |     /                       /   /
    |    /                       /   /
    |   /                       /   /
    |  /                       /   /
   /| /                       /   /
  / |/                       /   /
 /__/_______________________/   /
|                           |  /
|                           | / 
|___________________________|/

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