Why Lay-Flat binding?

We’re championing Lay-Flat binding at WowBooks, and in this blog, we’ll explain why.

If your aim is to give your customers the best possible user experience, Lay-Flat binding is by far the best option

What is Lay-Flat binding?

Lay-Flat binding is an alternative to perfect binding.

It has three clear advantages over perfect binding:

1. Lay-Flat books open completely flat across the centre fold. This means that images can be run across both halves of the spread, interrupted by only a subtle fold line down the middle. This gives some exciting design options, including landscape formats that open to display panoramas.

2. The pages are double thickness, creating a premium product.

3. Lay-Flat books are much easier to use – they lay flat on each page rather than trying to spring back closed as perfect bound books have a tendency to do.

The images below show the difference. The top one is perfect bound, the bottom one is Lay-Flat. See how it opens completely flat.

How does it work?

It starts with single-sided printed pages that are folded in half with the print inside. Then one blank side is glued to the opposing blank side of the next spread in the sequence. And so on until all the spreads are attached to form a block.

If it’s that good, why isn’t everyone doing it?

Until now, producers have been reluctant to recommend Lay-Flat binding as a finishing option because it is a slower process than standard perfect binding. They’ve also been wary of the additional complications of gluing pages together throughout a book. And of course, you also need to invest in specialist equipment. A standard Lay-Flat machine costs over €100,000

How can you make it accessible?

By having plenty of capacity, and by getting very good at it. By offering a 48-hour production time from receipt of artwork to dispatch of books we’re matching lead times for standard perfect bound books.

What about the price?

There is a perception that the additional cost of Lay-flat binding makes it unfeasible for everyday photobooks and storybooks. Not true! Whilst Lay-Flat binding is more expensive than perfect binding, it is only marginally so.

For example:
Booklet 130x150mm 24 pages + cover:
Perfect bound: £1.75 per book
Lay-Flat bound: £2.50 per book

A similar case study

Back in the late 1990s, WowBooks founder Andrew Balcombe headed up the UK’s largest print finishing company. In the binding division, a large proportion of the books produced were financial reports, in particular, Annual Reports for many leading FTSE100 companies. These were often long runs of over 50,000 copies. The books were high quality with a lot of ink coverage and printed on heavy papers. They were unsuitable for perfect binding because of the risks of the books falling apart. The folded sections, therefore, had to be thread sewn prior to binding, a hugely expensive and time-consuming process.

As the business grew, the sewing became such a bottleneck in the binding department that the machines were often booked up months in advance in peak periods. So a solution had to be found to help speed up the process. Andrew worked with global glue and equipment manufacturers and became the first UK Company to install industrial PUR gluing systems. PUR glue is much stronger than standard perfect binding. This enabled them to offer customers an option to thread sewing that dramatically reduced lead times and reduced finishing costs by over 50%, with no loss of quality.

The moral of the story – just because Lay-Flat binding isn’t mainstream yet, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be in the future! We’re always amazed and delighted by the response we get from customers when they see a Lay-Flat book . Seeing is believing – go and check out for yourself what a Lay-Flat book looks like, or ask us for some samples.

Drop me a message on the chat box or email me at abalcombe@wowbooks.com