Basic book binding: making advance reader copies more shelf-stable


Bookbinding is a true craft and in no way is this post a reflection of its true breadth and depth. However, over the last several years I have added reviewing, mostly children’s books, to my repertoire. Frequently publishers send advance reading copies out for reviews, meaning that they may be unbound, not through final proof, printed on different paper etc. This format does not affect my reviews, but for books that my little and I really enjoy or think others might like to read, I will do a quick rudimentary binding. Loose page children’s books are basically a disaster and meltdown waiting to happen and I already have enough items to pick up I don’t need book pages every where. Here is my quick solution, involving a sewing machine and hot glue gun, because besides duct tape, this can fix just about anything.

  • Sort your pages into the correct order, noting which full pages are folded into each other.


  • Select a folded section.
  • Open the pages up, finding the middle or folded portion. This is where you will sew.
  • Stack pages neatly, lining up the edges, as best you can. ARC can be cut unevenly too. I use a clip to hold them.
  • Adjust your stitch length to be a little longer (e.g. 3 or 3.5) and loosen up your tension just a little bit.
  • Stitch a straight line down the center fold.


  • Repeat steps 3 through 6, until all pages are sewn together. You will have several groups of sewing pages depending on the length of story. Put them into sequence.


  • Now its time to hot glue! Taking the cover identify where the spine of the book would be. I like to crease the spine so its easier to see.


  • Run a line of hot glue down the spine and place the first sewn folded page section into the glue. Hold upright until glue dries. Repeat this with each sewn section until all the page sections are glued to the cover.


Enjoy! It is certainly not perfect nor pretty but just tossing an ARC feels/is wasteful and if your books are anything like ours, they take a beating anyway.  Reading to myself and my son is one of my favorite activities, especially after a long day. I am pretty passionate about reading and as such we also started a guild for our little one, called Bee is for Books. Reviewing books is just another activity we can do together and now my little one is starting to also share his literary opinions.  I also enjoy how it exposes myself/us to many different books that we might not have otherwise discovered.  I post some of the reviews on this site, as Reach and Read (here is a favorite) and collate many on this image bookshelf page, many on other review or publisher sites and then of course there are all sorts of books we read and love that just don’t get a review as there are just not enough hours in the day. (note: I have a Goodreads account but have let it go fallow.) Maybe a goal for the year end will be to once again graph my reading, but the number of times I have read Big Red Barn and Little Blue Truck are TNTC…. and this is a great problem to have.


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