Book binding advice

I would like to create a book of about 40 self printed photos, probably in a 12x12 inch format. One possibility is using a screw post portfolio book, but I would really like a bound book. Does anybody know of a person or company that will create a bound book for me? I realize a run of “one” might limit the possibilities. Or a kit to bind your own book. Or anything else. Thanks!

Hi Tony. I think it depends a lot on what you want it for. If it’s just for yourself, spiral binding is very cheap and easy (any of the shipping/copy stores has the equipment or you can buy it fairly inexpensively. I’ve never considered hardcover binding, though I know lots of people take classes in it and every once in awhile I see books in used book stores that have obviously been rebound.

Thanks for the comments. It’s just a book for me and my family. I don’t want spiral binding…I would like something that looks like a coffee table book.

Bay Photo offers several “models” that are worth considering. A couple of years ago I did a hardcover book of favorites of our granddaughter’s first 6 years, with copies for her, her parents, the grandparents and her doting auntie. I found their layup template a bit confusing but after getting needed clarification the result was very nice. I was very pleased with the quality of the binding, the cover and the gift boxes.

Thanks for the suggestion, but my reading of their site is they make the prints…I’m hoping to print my own photos. Therein lies the problem…

I misread – yes, you’re correct. Somewhere back in the last century (way back…) I purchased a binding of the sort you describe, and now I’m trying to remember where. It clamped the pages with a generous gutter on the left, but it was very clumsy to turn the pages with quality paper. You would want to find a good traditional bookbinder. I assume you have done an internet search – there should be artisans that offer such services.

If you find one, others here might be interested.

I did a quick search in Seattle Washington (the nearest big city) and there were quite a number of professional bookbinders, including one in my immediate area. I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble finding one.

Tony, check with Shutterfly. They will give you templates and walk you through the process. If you “think” about it for a while they tend to start offering some good discounts. A professional single run edition would cost you around $200 or so. My wife does typography for several clients.

Thanks. Again, I was hoping to print my own photos and have them bound, not have Shutterfly print them. I think I am giving up on this project and will just make some prints and put them in a nice portfolio box.

Just an idea - I’m living in Austria but I guess a similar service is available in your neck of the woods. We have bookbinders here who would bind people’s theses. I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t bind prints. So these are not book producers who print your stuff but just bookbinders.

Thanks @Dennis_Plank, @Diane_Miller, @Astrid_Preisz , and @Ed_Williams for your advice. I’ve contacted several book binders in San Francisco and haven’t heard back from them…I’m guessing this kind of thing is not their cup of tea. I started another thread on high quality online books, which you can read if you are interested.

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Hi. Just rejoined NPN so maybe too late to the party. If you want to print your own images I realistically see 4 options.

  1. Learn how to bind the paper into a book.
  2. Maybe a print shop may help in this regard. They are used to producing a variety products and I don’t think a photographic producer will provide what you are after.
  3. Use the screw mount system. Hahnemühle have a leather option which I have and is excellent.
  4. Brooks Jensen of LensWork Magazine uses a folio system. This is where you have individual prints bound by a cardboard envelope for want of a better word. Trouble is that this is restricted to no more than 15-20 prints maximum I would say. Most of his are 10-12 prints.

With a traditional bound book, the pages need to be flexible at the gutter. Fine art papers won’t work for that. You would likely need to go to offset lithographic printing, which has a limited color gamut. But… that’s how they do the fine art coffee table books by all the well-known photographers. And these are meant to be run in a large production to offset the setup expenses. They are just not comparable to prints on fine art papers.

Frustrating indeed, that with all the wonderful cameras and processing we have these days that there is not a better way to present our work.

Thanks @mark28 and @Diane_Miller for the comments. I have given up a traditional bound book and am making a 12x12 screw post portfolio book using adhesive hinge strips. High quality is still quite expensive. But I am having great fun printing 40 or so photos. I’m soft proofing and testing on 8.5x11 paper and will make the final prints on the more expensive 12x12 paper from Red River. I’m getting to where I nail the soft proof prints about 80% of the time on the first go around. That’s progress!

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That sounds excellent! There is nothing comparable to a fine print!