Perfect-Bound Book Spines 101

Book spines

When books are stacked up on a shelf, what’s on the spine is the only visible information about the book. In a book store, the details on the spine are what initially attract attention.

Creating a book spine is a critical aspect of the book design process. Whether hardcover or softcover, all perfect bound books require a book spine. But all too often spine measurements are overlooked during the design phase, and you end up with problems. Too thick of a spine, and your book closes with a tent-like gap. Too thin, and your book won’t close at all.

When you’re building your files, the width of the spine must be calculated and that measurement must be built into your cover art.  Yes, there is some math involved, but it’s not difficult and after a few tries, you’ll get the hang of it.  Of course, with all math problems, there is an equation:

spine width

In short, take the number of text pages and divide by the PPI.

What’s PPI?  It stands for Pounds Per Inch.  All papers have a PPI;  you can ask your printer for the PPI for your paper stock.  The chart below lists some PPI’s for papers on our floor.

PPI's for book weights

Here’s an example: Say you have a 500 page book and you choose a 70# Natural uncoated paper for the text pages.  Using the chart above, the PPI is 385.  Your equation is: 500 divided by 385 equals 1.29870.”  Rounded up, your spine width is 1.30.”   Simple, right?

There are some tools and templates on the PG website Resources page to help you calculate spines:  http://www.pubgraphics.com/resource-center.htm

Lastly, keep in mind these important considerations:

  • for hardbound books, add an additional 0.14 to the width (to accommodate the boards)
  • The minimum width of a hardcover spine is .0375
  • Max spine width is 21/4″ or 1200 pages
  • Avoid imagery/copy in the gutter– keep it 2mm away–  as glue won’t adhere to the spine

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: