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Silver Spring, MD
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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Book Design Decisions for Your Memoir or Family History

Nan Barnes

Book design is a subject that many authors don’t give much thought. If they are sending their book off to a commercial publisher someone else will design the book that is eventually produced. But self-publishing authors will need to make some important decisions on the design of their books.

The first question is, what kind of binding to use. It begins with the choice of hardcover or softcover. A hardcover is more durable. It’s rigid cardboard is covered with leather, cloth or more recently a plasticized material called Imagewrap. The pages and covers are sewn together in one of two processes:

  • Oversewing, in which small holes are drilled in single pages which are sewn together with lock stitches. This is a very secure binding, but margins are reduced and pages won’t lie flat.

  • Sewing through the fold, in which two pages are folded and stitched through the fold then sewed or glued to the cover producing a binding somewhat less secure than oversewing.

A third process has begun to appear as a binding for hardbacks. The result is referred to in the trade as a Cardboard Article. It’s really a hybrid combining featured of hardback and paperback created using thermal processing and double-fan glue to bind the pages.

Soft or paperbacks are also thermally bound. A thermal binding uses a one-piece cover with glue down the spine which is placed in a heated machine. When it cools, the pages have adhered to the cover. Perfect binding is a newer process using a heavier paper cover with sections of pages glued together at the spine. Rough cut edges of the pages allow them to absorb the glue.

So, which ones is best for you? A lot of that depends on your publishing goals. Cost is always an issue. If you are producing an heirloom book with a very limited distribution its best to use the highest quality possible. Good hardback binding with leather covers are top of the line. But if you are seeking wider or commercial distribution a well-made paperback may be what you are looking for.

NOTE: If you read yesterday’s post on truth and speculation in memoirs and family history you may find a post by a family historian in Arizona interesting. She says, “I know there is a price to be paid for deciding to include this history in a memoir, but I do not regard many memoirs as honest that were written without any intent to reveal all. History was whitewashed, but what can we learn from a history that has been altered from the truth to a fantasy that will be more pleasing to the world.” If you are struggling with the question of how much truth to tell, you may find her rationale useful to think about. Click here to visit her blog.