Where to Start?

Parts-of-a-BookDo you know the difference between a French groove and an American groove? Well, I’m not talking about dance styles, they are actually parts of a hardback book!

Bookbinding today covers a whole range of activities from craft to fine art. You can bind your own work for pleasure, repair your favourite books, and produce works of art for both commercial trade and competitions.

But how do you learn what all the specialised terms mean when all you want to do is repair a favourite book?

Here are a few basic ones to get you started:

Endpapers – are the first and last few pages of a book;

Flyleaf – a blank page in the front or the back of a book;

Frontispiece – an illustration that faces or immediately precedes the title page of a book;

Full title – the page at the beginning of a volume that indicates the title, author’s or editor’s name, and the┬ápublication information, usually the publisher and the place and date of publication.

Signatures – a letter, number, or symbol placed at the bottom of the first page on each sheet of printed pages of a book as a guide to the proper sequence of the sheets in binding;

Quarter binding – an economical covering method in which the spine and part of the sides are covered in one material and a cheaper one is used on the remainder

Foredge -the front edge of the book; so called because originally this edge faced outwards from the shelves and titles were painted, inked or scorched on the leaves (rather than the spine)

French groove – library style book binding suitable for heavy, constant use where where the board is set away from the joint instead of flush to enable thick leather to be used at the hinge

American groove – similar to the French groove but more often used with cloth covers

Kettle stitch – a catch stitch or knot made at the end of each section to join it on to the preceding one

Overcasting – reinforcing a section or joining a number of single sheets together by sewing through the back margin

This gives you a quick reference guide to the terms you’ll see in our instructions here. I have also included definitions in other posts where it is appropriate. There is a full glossary of terms here.