Case binding, or as it is commonly called, hard cover, is the most common type of binding found in both fine, and commercial books. Commercial paperback books use perfect binding, where individual sheets are held together with glue and a paper spine. Binding a case bound book first requires the gathering and sewing of signatures with either binding tape or cord. The signatures are then placed into the case. The case is constructed of binding board that is wrapped in leather, cloth, paper or a combination of one or more of these materials. There are different methods for decorating the book; gold tooling, stamping, inlay, beading, fore-edge painting and other extremely creative methods employed by bookbinders.
Binding is an art, and the work of master binders belongs in art museums. I believe the best way to learn about and appreciate fine binding is well… to view it. Follow this link for a virtual tour of binding. The first two rooms (middle/top) in the museum explain the basics of bookbinding. Please visit them first, for they will help in understanding the specialty rooms to follow. Do you recognize the floor plan? Enjoy!