September 23, 2021

When it comes to binding styles there are numerous options for your next book but what do they each mean? One of the more complex bindery methods- Smyth Sewing- is often considered as the premier choice, noted as ‘library quality’ due to its enhanced durability and lay-flat properties. 

How Does Smyth Sewing Work?

The concept of machine sewn books dates back to 1871 when David McConnel Smyth obtained his first patent; however, in 1882 the Smyth Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut began production of the first sewing machines- changing bookbinding technology forever. The process to bind smyth sewn books begins with ‘signatures’, these signatures are large sheets of printed paper which are then folded into groups of anywhere from 8 to 32 pages. Signatures are then individually stitched together using a cotton covered nylon thread, with each folded signature sewn to the next by multiple needle and thread stitches down the length of the signature. These sewn signatures create a complete book block which is then glued into a paper cover or a hardcover case. Due to the high levels of automation in processes, machinery senses if a signature is missed or if a thread or needle is broken- leaving very little room for error and ensuring a high quality result.

Benefits of Smyth Sewing

Smyth sewing has numerous benefits compared to other binding styles, with the most commonly cited being its durability. Because the pages are stitched together they are able to withstand years of wear and tear, unlike adhesive bound books where glue may begin to deteriorate after repeated use. Another important benefit of smyth sewing is the flexibility and strength of the bind. Smyth sewn books lay flat when opened, making them perfect for cookbooks, sketchbooks and notebooks; additionally, this binding style is designed to display the entire page when opened, ideal for music, art, and architectural books.

While many may think of Smyth Sewing as an expensive option it can actually assist in reducing certain costs associated with materials and labor. Digitally printed sheets can be turned into signatures and then into Smyth sewn book blocks at high speed, made possible by Superior’s Universe Sewing Machine. This machine will feed single sheets, score, fold, nest, gather and then stitch, eliminating multiple steps.  While predominantly used on short runs, Smyth sewn digital print jobs generate several hidden benefits.  Because grain direction is less critical with Smyth sewn books, sometimes it is possible to get a better imposition with cross-grain paper- reducing the cost of a job compared to adhesive binding. Lastly, because books finish Smyth sewing as separated units, Superior does not require slip sheets or hand sorting of loose sheets. 

Incorporate Smyth Sewing On Your Next Project

Superior Packaging and Finishing has operated in the bindery space for over 30 years, developing and executing projects for thousands of organizations, publishers, and authors. Our state of the art, master Smyth Sewing technologies from Meccanotecnica increase productivity while ensuring the highest degree of quality and craftsmanship. Superior’s advanced equipment and high levels of automation make Smyth sewing surprisingly affordable, be sure to talk to a Superior Bindery specialist and consider Smyth sewing for your next book project!


July 13, 2021

With over 30 years of experience in the bindery space, Superior continuously identifies the latest and greatest trends to make your next bound project stand out. Our binding experts are the most knowledgeable in the North East, assisting our customers in pinpointing the perfect binding style for their unique project. As things ramp up and we enter peak season we have identified a number of trends in the bindery space over the past year for bookmakers, publishers, and other customers to consider.


Often bound with spiral, wire-o, or adhesive- notebooks have seen a resurgence over recent years with a number of practical applications. Primarily used as journals, planners, logbooks and diaries they allow the user to maintain detailed accounts of both personal and work life. Journals can also be beneficial for mental health as they assist users in gaining more control over their emotions, allowing them to track thoughts and feelings. Many companies have added journals to their product line as a way to increase average customer value due to their ease of production and low warehousing costs. Innovative printers like Superior also have the capabilities to personalize notebooks, further facilitating a connection with the end user. 

Unique One-Off Projects:

Innovative companies and their marketing departments often turn to printers for unique binding projects catered to a new product launch or to introduce a new product line. The same can be said for books released for an art show or to commemorate an event. These unique projects are designed to exude an emotion, feeling, or look that is associated with a brand or event. Utilizing specialized printing and binding techniques gives an identity to your brand or product that customers will instantly recognize. 

Jeep Wrangler Book
Jeep Wrangler Book


The print and binding market is dynamic and as such print and bindery operations must respond quickly and efficiently to changes in customer buying habits. One glaring shift in these markets is the shift towards personalized, print on-demand products. Photo books, gift books, and stories can all be personalized to the end users exact specifications with print on demand, leaving them with a much more meaningful, custom product. Available in nearly any binding style these personalized products not only command a higher price point, but also leave customers with an enhanced sense of loyalty to the brand- increasing customer value and loyalty. These user focused and designed keepsakes are often cherished for a lifetime so it is important to consider a binding style with durability that can withstand the test of time.

Sewn Binding:

Sewn binding has withstood the test of time both literally and figuratively. One of the oldest binding methods, sewn binding offers durability and a recognizable look that screams quality compared to adhesive binding. Whether it is smyth sewn, singer sewn or hand sewn, this binding method emanates hand-made quality due to the nature of the bind making it the perfect choice for creatives. Sewn binding is becoming more and more popular for use in lookbooks, catalogs, and event booklets.