To bind or not to bind

Knitters and book lovers out there, I’d love your feedback/comments on this, thanks! : )

Some of you may already be aware about a binding service Kinkos (or Office Max, Office Depot, etc) offers: for a small fee, they’ll cut the spine off a book and re-bind it. If you haven’t seen this before, here are a couple of examples: this person chose comb binding for her books, and another went with spiral. Also, this topic has shown up now and then on forums/lists, here’s one at Knittyboard.

One part of me can see the advantage of this. The pages will be easier to photocopy when you want to work on a project, or be easier to lay flat while you work.

But the other part winces at the idea of intentionally ‘damaging’ a book. What if the book became useless because of an error or a badly performed job?

If you have done this before or are considering it, what is your criteria for choosing a book to be bound? Would you take any book, or just one that you use often? What if the book were out-of-print or hard-to-find, would that make any difference? Are thinner books ideal, or are thicker books like the Walker Treasuries doable?

I’m also curious whether you would buy a copy that has had its binding altered? I haven’t noticed any for sale or swap, but I’m sure it happens. Would you avoid purchasing (or swapping for) a ‘converted’ copy?

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17 Responses to “To bind or not to bind”

  1. Anna Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I used to have all of my opera scores spiral bound in my last life. They also can but a piece of clear plastic over the front cover and heavier black plastic in the back. I would only go with the real “spiral binding” – not that funky black plastic binding. I’m all for it & think it’s a brilliant idea for softbound knitting books! Why didn’t I think about that?

  2. trek Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 7:51 am

    I like the comb binding and would not think that rebinding is ruining the book at all. I probably would consider rebinding if I was going to use a particular book a lot or if I really needed it to lay open for any length of time (as opposed to just cracking it open periodically to check something).

  3. trek Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 7:54 am

    PS – If the book was ruined by the copy shop staff, they must have a policy in place to replace your book I should think.

  4. Chris Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 8:09 am

    I wouldn’t buy a “modified” book, nor would I do this to a book. My printer also copies, so I simply copy the bits I need and work from those… Or hold the book open in a book holder, if it doesn’t seem worth making a copy.

  5. Rina Rahardjo Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I just make copies of the patterns I want to work on. They are good ideas, but … changing the originality of the book seems kind of… sad.

  6. hege Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 9:28 am

    I would probably buy a book that had been altered this way. I do love the spiral bound books that lie flat. I have also seen somebody (Nicole on All Buttoned Up) do their Barbara Walker books. I usually try to buy the hardcover version of a thick book like Barbara Walker because it does open up flatter (these are still available as used books). And I always photo copy the pattern I am working on anyway, because I don’t like to carry the whole book around with me.

  7. Jeanne Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 10:38 am

    It irritates me when pattern books don’t lay flat…makes me wonder what the author/publisher was thinking. However, I make copies rather than alter the book.

  8. Guinifer Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Depends on whether or not I bought the book for the “pretty” or for the “performance”. If I meant it to be used pretty heavily in my knitting – it is awful nice to be able to flop that book open flat – and frankly I am so tough on those books anyway, that it’s a question of how much I would damage the spine of the book as I used it. My Sensational Knitted Socks books would be much more useful if they were spiral bound.

  9. deb Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Oooh, interesting topic.I’d probably do it on a case by case basis. I know I have some books where I just wouldn’t be able to work from a copy that I wouldn’t mind having them re-bound.

  10. Christy Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    not a fan of the comb binding. I’ve had too many training manuals/course books/church fundraiser recipe books with those bindings where they start to unhook (is that the word I want?) themselves.

    I’m thinking of having it done to SKS (like so many others have) and possibly Yarns to Dye For (cuz it was driving me nuts while trying to reference it while dyeing). I’m unsure about the Walkers (it’d be a good idea, but they’re so thick!).

    on the thought of thick books, I wonder if my HTML bible is too thick. the binding on that is long since dead, I’m lucky I haven’t lost any pages yet. (if any of my knitting books get to that stage, they’re getting re-bound)

  11. mrspao Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I’ve not heard of that before. I tend to photocopy so my pattern books stay nice :)

  12. lisa Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I do what mrspao does…or just use the book. I prefer a comb binding over a spiral. But I think if I was purchasing a used book, I would prefer the original binding…unless the comb bound was significantly cheaper, esp. if the book was hard to find. I think I wouldn’t change the binding on a rarish book though. Good luck!

  13. beth Says:
    April 27th, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    I did spiral binding on my folk socks book. Interestingly enough, I bought the book and took it straight to kinkos. I guess that since I wasn’t super expensive I wasn’t worried about damaging the book. I would do it again, but not with a thick book or a very expensive one.

  14. Nicole Says:
    May 1st, 2007 at 7:26 am

    I did this once on a cookbook that was falling apart because it got so much use. It was great! They cut a thin line off the edge, which removed the cracking glue, and made the inside pretty clean. To this day, I’m still glad I did it. Could I do it again? Only if the book was falling apart and if the pages were thick and glossy. Otherwise, I’m not sure if it would hold up as well.

  15. Carrie K Says:
    May 5th, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I did this to a number of my stitch pattern books. I do tend to copy the pattern so I can lug it around with me (impractical carrying the whole book) but the alteration has been great. If you copy the book enough times, you’re not doing the original binding any favors. I use spiral binding mostly because I just don’t like the look of comb binding.

    I would a whole lot rather see this done to a book and it continues its use as a book than see the book hollowed out, glued and made into some kitschy box.

  16. Frarochvia Says:
    May 6th, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Hmmmmm I’m tempted to spiral bind my books now! Hmph.

  17. moirae Says:
    May 14th, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    I’m a fan of just making copies. Who needs to lug around/lose an entire book? The books are great for looking at or keeping out on a coffee table during a knitting party!

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