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Perfect Bound vs. Saddle Stitch; Which Book is Right for You?

Tue, Jul 9, 2019 @ 08:30 AM Amber Gauthier 0

Which book is right for you?

One of the most important decisions to make for your next book printing project is what type of binding option to choose. While saddle stitch binding is our most popular and cost efficient form of binding, if you have a high enough page count, perfect bound is also a top choice. In this blog, you will find some information and examples that will help you choose the best binding for your book.

Book Binding Characteristics


There are two main things to keep in mind when selecting your binding: (1) what is your final page count going to be?; and (2) do you have a budget?


What is your Page Count?

One big factor when choosing binding is the minimum and maximum page counts needed for both perfect bound and saddle stitch book binding. Saddle stitch binding works very well for smaller page counts, whereas perfect binding is great for larger page counts. If your book is between 8 and 92 pages, saddle stitch is the most cost-effective choice. If your book has over 28 pages, perfect binding becomes another option. 

Book Requirements

Perfect Binding: Learn More
Saddle Stitch Binding: Learn More


For saddle stitch binding, the higher the page count gets, the more you have to keep in mind about page creep. This is when the inner pages stick out farther than the pages closer to the outer cover. This usually happens when there is a large number of pages or when a thicker paper is being used.

Page Creep in Saddle Stitch binding


A saddle stitch book with fewer pages will most likely not have to worry about creep because trimming may not be as noticeable as with higher page counts. So, if you have a book with a higher page count, perfect binding might be the best option.


Customer Example: Pittsburgh Moto Magazine (84-page Perfect Bound)

Since the majority of magazines you see on store shelves are perfect bound, Pittsburgh Moto, an 84-page publication, chose perfect binding to give their magazine that high quality look and feel you see with other widely circulated magazines. Since perfect binding is superior to the other binding types, it may help increase your return on investment because you can resell these perfect bound books to subscribers at a higher cost.

Perfect Bound Book Printing example

Another cool characteristic perfect binding offers is that you can put text on the spine if your book is thick enough. Since Pittsburgh Moto prints 3 to 4 issues a year, this binding option allows them to add in their magazine name, year and issue number down the spine, as you see with other magazines.

Magazine Printing


Are You on a Budget?

Though perfect bound book binding is more expensive than saddle stitch, it offers a highly professional appearance at a fairly low cost. If you plan on reselling your books, choosing perfect binding can help you sell them at a higher cost because of the higher quality and durability it offers. If you’re on a budget and perfect binding is a little out of your price range, saddle stitch is still an excellent alternative (and is still our most popular binding option). Whether you choose perfect binding or saddle stitch, the quality we provide will still give your printed book a sharp and appealing, professional look.


Customer Example: Dedicated Magazine (60-page Saddle Stitched)

Saddle Stitch Printing Example

Dedicated Magazine is a low-budget, hobby publication for scale model car enthusiasts. Many of these types of magazines (also known as Zines), choose saddle stitch binding because it has a lower cost than perfect bound but still maintains the elegance of other printed publications.

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Instant Perfect Bound Pricing: Learn More
Instant Saddle Stitch Pricing: Learn More

How Much Does It Cost To Print A Book?




At PrintingCenterUSA, we feel that the combination of digital and offset complement each other when it comes to the final price to print a book. We utilize the strengths of each to offer our customers the best of both worlds for quality, price, service and turnaround times.


Digital Printer


With digital printing, there is no make ready.  All work is done to set up a press for printing and the setup is easier, thus lowering labor costs. No printing plates are needed and the file goes directly to press and prints directly from computer to paper. The first copy is up to color. Costs remain constant over all run lengths.


Traditional Offset Printer

Traditional offset printers have much higher nonproductive up-front costs due to longer make ready and set up times. Printing plates need to be made, and there are more setup costs and maintenance associated with making ready. It usually takes about 200 sheets to get your project up to color and ready to be produced. As run lengths increase, costs decline. Short runs under 5,000 are more expensive with most offset printers.


Our state of the art combination of digital and offset printing presses allow us to have lower-cost setup so that short-run booklet jobs don't have the overhead that big offset printing shops have, which means we can do the smaller jobs of 10 to 5,000 booklets and 10 to 15,000 brochures for less.  


We feel that the combination of digital and offset complement each other. Our state of the art set-up and processes allows us to live in the “Area of Best Value” and come through for our customers when quantities vary or are unknown.


Short run digital printing companies only offer quantities up to 500 or 1,000 sheets or booklets. Short run printing jobs under 5,000 sheets or booklets are generally more expensive with most digital and offset printers. At PrintingCenterUSA our offset press fills the gap between 1,000 and 5,000 sheets and booklets. This gives you the best printing costs and the quality of both worlds.




There is a gap in small quantity printing jobs between 1,000 and 5,000 sheets or booklets. Both traditional digital and offset printers are generally more expensive. 


 You can see in the above graph how the combination of our digital presses and printing partners offer the best value for short-run quantities of 10 to 5,000 sheets and books and makes low-volume printing affordable, where with traditional printing methods the per-copy cost would be too high to be practical.


The graph represents a real-life example between four companies. This will help you better break down your job on a per-book basis and get the whole picture.



Binding Options for your Budget

Just like page count and quantity the other crucial pricing aspect to consider when book printing will be the binding option you choose.  You can learn more about our bindery options here. When it comes to price, let’s take a quick look at our two most common bookbinding types: perfect bound and saddle-stitch.  

In the below graph you will see RED (saddle-stitch) and BLUE (perfect bound) lines indicating perfect bound and saddle-stitch binding options.  The specs were set up to the same specs as the perfect bound example above.  Notice the price of saddle-stitch binding will usually be the most affordable option when it comes time to choose a binding.


 The reason for this minor price difference when comparing perfect bound and saddle stitch binding options circles back to time and process.  Perfect binding requires more materials and longer production time. That production time includes roughing up the edges of the book to allow more surface area for the hot glue to adhere to the pages better, and then cure for an extended period of time. This creates a more professional presentation compared to saddle stitch but adds to the cost.  Whereas saddle stitch books do not need the added time to cure (from the glue) because they are simply stapled together.




Saddle Stitch uses two staples for binding.


Perfect Binding allows spine printing.


Also, when comparing the two binding options you have to consider the pages once again to determine if you meet the minimum or maximum page count.  Saddle stitch books are an excellent choice for lower page count projects but can’t exceed 92 pages.  Perfect bound books need a minimum of 28 pages and even then that might not be enough to add the illustrious look you’re going after.  Perfect bound books reach a maximum height of 2 inches so be mindful of your page count.  Once you start adding more pages with the perfect bound option, it allows you to add even more professional qualities to your book like spine printing!


Remember, price shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind when choosing a binding option and it’s important you consider how you want to display your work.  Brush up on some aspects of saddle-stitch here and perfect bound here.



 PDF File Checklist


Pricing Calculator

Using our Pricing Calculator, we took a look (see charts below) at some of our most common average order sizes and formats to give you a better idea of pricing books for your next project.  Whether you’re printing a perfect bound children’s book or deciding how to best showcase your photography to potential buyers, the cost will undoubtedly play a deciding role.




When pricing a book, using our free pricing calculator will help you better accomplish your budgetary goals.  Take what you learned in the above sections regarding binding, page count and quantity and play around with our pricing calculator to get the price you're looking for.  Maybe you need a color cover but only have text on the inside, be sure to change that in the calculator. Explore the printing options that best fit your book printing needs.



Pricing a book doesn’t have to be a complicated process and here at PrintingCenterUSA, we’re here to help.  We offer personable customer service with book pricing experts that can assist you in meeting your financial goals.  Remember when pricing a book for print to weigh the options discussed in this article around quantity, pages and binding variations; these are the cornerstones of nailing down the cost of printing a book.


Online Design Tool


Fundraising Campaign for Kids Dance Outreach Successfully Wraps Up

Fri, Jun 7, 2019 @ 10:30 AM Matt Fey 0 fundraising

KDO_Adaptive Dance2

Committed to making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities, PrintingCenterUSA leveraged the power of its national customer base to fundraise for Indianapolis-based Kids Dance Outreach’s (KDO) Adaptive Dance program. During the month of May, PrintingCenterUSA donated a portion of the proceeds from select products to the nonprofit — raising a total of $5,025 for child dancers with disabilities.  


The proceeds from the fundraising campaign will go towards summer programs KDO is hosting, including a course specifically for dancers with Down Syndrome under its Adaptive Dance program.


“With school out, kids often become isolated in the summer months — more so for children with disabilities who are too often left out,” said KDO Founding Director Michael Johnson. “As an inclusive organization, when we bring kids of all abilities together our communities are stronger because of it. We are extremely grateful to PrintingCenterUSA for helping to provide further opportunities to dancers with disabilities.”


Last December, PrintingCenterUSA broke a record in rallying its customer base to make the largest donation ever by a company to the Special Olympics of Montana. The success of that campaign inspired us to continue to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities across the nation.


We are humbled to be able to help KDO carry out its mission of empowering children with disabilities through the power of performance art, thanks to the charitable giving of our customers.


Custom Greeting Cards: What You Need to Know

Custom greeting cards are a popular practice for sending personalized thoughts and best wishes to your friends, family, and colleagues. At PrintingCenterUSA, we make designing and printing your short-run and bulk greeting card orders a breeze. We offer three different sizes (5 x 7, 5.5 x 8.5, and 4.25 x 5.5), multiple paper stock options, multiple versioning, and two design resources (templates and an easy-to-use online design tool). 

Greeting Card Design Tool FAQ: Learn More


Custom greeting cards are perfect for amateur and professional photographers, artists and designers. Just upload your photos or artwork for any occasion. Artists love how our superb print quality and extra features such as creasing and UV coating ensure a professional showcasing of their artwork. Greeting Cards are a great way to keep your illustrations, paintings, or photographs in focus while simultaneously maintaining and developing important relationships. Order as many lots or versions as you want, though we require a minimum of 25 cards per lot or version. Order flat or folded.


Instant Greeting Card Pricing: Learn More

Free Greeting Card Sample Packet: Learn More



Our printing company sells top commercial quality printing at discount printing prices! We guarantee our quality is anything but cheap. We asked Colin Hayes from Cobenali Creations what made him decide to use PrintingCenterUSA for his greeting card line and he said “I researched several online printing companies and tried limited runs with a few of them. PrintingCenterUSA offered very competitive prices, so I gave them a LOT of my business." After printing literally thousands of greeting cards for his business, he always comes back to us for his next purchase.



A major perk of printing your greeting cards with PrintingCenterUSA is the ease of ordering multiple versions by selecting your quantity and number of versions on our pricing tool. This is perfect for showcasing an entire artistic series. You can have up to 50 versions in one order with as few as 25 of each version.

GC_Versions copy

Cards above by Colin Hayes 

GC_shrinkwrapped-1When you order multiple versions at one time, it's more efficient for us and more economical for you. How we do this is by gang running your versions onto a sheet of paper, drastically minimizing product waste.  When asked about the ease of ordering multiple versions for his custom greeting cards, Colin replied “I ordered 100 each of about 36 different cards, along with 500 catalogs, and they were very organized and [PrintingCenterUSA] kept me up to date on the status of each order. They have always been very prompt at answering my questions.”


4 Greeting Card Tips for Businesses: Learn More

Building Relationships Using Personalized Greeting Cards: Learn More



At PrintingCenterUSA, we offer three sizes of greeting cards: 5 x 7, 5.5 x 8.5, and 4.25 x 5.5. Our most popular size is 5x7. These can be printed either landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical). Another way to base your size decision is by the dimensions of your photograph. If you choose to order multiple versions, then it is most economical for all versions to be the same size.  




Online Design Tool 



Once you pick your size, you need to pick out your paper stock. Out of 6 premium paper stock options, we highly recommend 12pt C1S (coated 1 side) for your custom greeting card project. The thick card has a gleaming gloss finish on the front and no coating on the back. The uncoated finish on the inside of the card is perfect for writing—meaning the ink won’t smudge and dries quickly. To further protect your greeting card from scratches and finger prints, try adding a UV Coating!

Greeting Card Examples: Learn More



When ordering your greeting card at PrintingCenterUSA, you’re getting a sharp, professional crease. Creasing is a process that prepares the paper for folding by creating two parallel folding points. Done correctly, you end up with a channel line that creates two distinct sides of a card—One side has a recess or indentation, the other side has a bump or raise.

There are a few major benefits to creasing as opposed to roll-scoring.


Top: Roll-Score; Bottom: Crease


Example of ink cracking with roll-score

  1. Cards fold evenly: When your greeting card is roll-scored, there tends to be imperfections in the folding. The two halves won’t square up right. With the crease PrintingCenterUSA provides, your cards will fold perfectly every time whether we fold them or you do.
  2. Less cracking: A traditional roll-score only creates one stress point for the paper to fold. This causes cracking of the ink at the edge. With creasing, the printed image of on your card will be far less likely to have any cracked ink.
  3. Professional Appearance: Getting your cards creased is a more professional option. The squared edge is consistent and provides that extra finish to your custom greeting card.

You can either have your cards creased and left flat or go ahead and have us fold them for you. Don’t forget to add envelopes to your order! 

PDF File Checklist



Most other printing companies don’t let you know if you are missing out on a good deal. Their philosophy for bulk printing is “the more you print, the cheaper the per piece price.” PrintingCenterUSA  offers the best quality and price for both digital and offset products. We are able to do this because of our top-ranking equipment and press operators. Running our short-run orders on our digital presses allows us to maintain a low per piece price, because of a lower production cost. So whether you need a set of 25 greeting cards, or 2,000 with 10 versions, the price per piece is unbeatable.

Request a Quote: Learn More

Speak to a Specialist: Learn More 



Although greeting cards lend themselves to a more casual communication style, it is still important to ensure that you aren’t missing an opportunity to add recognizability to your brand or current body of work. Add your name, website, logo, and contact information to the back of each card. It also helps to keep a consistent color scheme, font, type of imagery amongst your greeting card versions. For example, a photographer might select his set of greeting cards based solely on color scheme or subject matter.



Free Online Greeting Card Designer

With our online design tool, it is easier than ever to design your greeting cards! No matter how many versions.
Online Design Tool

Predesigned Book Template Downloads

If you have the Adobe design software (Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator) then you can choose between one of our many free greeting card template downloads to help jump start your design!


If you are starting a greeting card project and would like to speak with an expert, feel free to give us a call at 800-995-1555. Ready to place your next greeting card order? Visit our website to get started!

Book Layout: 9 Easy Steps for Designing the Perfect Layout


At PrintingCenterUSA, we take it upon ourselves to make the entire process of designing, ordering, and printing your projects as simple as possible. This includes providing templates and content that help you create a print-ready PDF file. If you take advantage of our multitude of design resources, then we will be able to take your cook book, children’s book, memory book, photo book, business book, etc and deliver a stunning, professional product right to your door.

Creating the layout for your book can be a daunting task, however. You have already done the extensive legwork of creating the content for your magazine, catalog, or program and now it’s time to piece it together into a user-friendly visual package. We have laid out some easy steps and tips for you to follow to finish your project. Pair these tips with our downloadable templates and online design tool, and you will be 100% ready to self-publish your book.


Instant Book Pricing: Learn More

Free Book Sample Packet: Learn More



Each book is unique and deserves its own special treatment. Map out your project outline, set up some ground rules, then plug and go! Consistency in book layout treatment is key to instilling authority, legibility, and nuance. The solution needs to be so natural and well-executed that the reader doesn’t even think about the layout. The point is to showcase your content to the reader/viewer as clearly as possible—nothing should take away from your work.


First, you need to understand what type of project you’re working with. What are the dimensions for your layout? PrintingCenterUSA offers custom layout sizes, but that can make the cost go up. You may want to consider some of our standard sizes: 8.5x11, 6x9, 4.25x11, 6x6 and 8x8, although custom sizes are available. As an added bonus, when it comes time to upload your files, you can upload your individual pages into your book designer tool to help you visualize the entire project.

Online Design Tool 


Another important consideration for your book is what type of durable soft-cover binding you will be utilizing. PrintingCenterUSA offers saddle stitch, perfect bound, spiral, and wire-o binding. Selecting the binding that is right for the feel of your project is crucial! And it’s good to keep this in mind throughout the entire book layout process. To learn more about our binding options, click here.


Saddle Stitch Perfect Bound Spiral Wire-O

Bindery Options:
Learn More



I’m sure your project already has some sort of structure. Now take that structure and thumbnail out your project! This will help you gain perspective on the entire layout. You may see things that you didn’t notice when you were in the weeds of preparing the content of your book. Think of it as a puzzle and outline the home of any written content, images, captions, table of contents, footnotes, page numbers, blank pages, etc. If you’re outlining a picture book, for example, you may want to select the format you are going to present your images in. Are they full page bleeds, tiled out, single images in the middle of the page? ImageSpread_01_BookLayout



Now that you understand the dimensions of your book and where your images, spreads, and bleeding images are, you can prepare your document template.

  • Margins: We’re here to tell you that minimizing your margins is not recommended. It creates a poor user experience for the reader. For pages that are all text, you should consider how much your reader can handle. A combination of leading (the space between lines) and margins will help ensure you aren't making every page feel like an encyclopedia. We recommend a .5 in margin on the outer three sides and a .8 in margin for the binding edges.

  • Bleeds: If your book will contain images or graphics that bleed off the page, then you should set up your template with bleeds from the very beginning of the designing stage. This way you’re not having to go back in at the end to adjust your images. Our recommended bleed setting is .125 in.

bleed-trim-safety_300x650 copy

PDF File Checklist



Another way to make designing your book extremely easy is to select your fonts and the font size hierarchy at the beginning.

  • Fonts: Typically, your main header font is the only font you want to use a creative/artistic font for. BEWARE of Papyrus and Comic Sans! For your main copy, a clean font is recommended. For a more graphic and contemporary look, stick with a san serif like Arial, Helvetica, Avenir Next, or IBM Plex Sans. For a more legible body copy, don’t stray from the classics like Garamond, Georgia, and Sabon Next. If you’re clever, you’ll pick a font family that has a variety of weights (Bold, italic, thin, etc.) This will help with consistency. Another tip is to limit your use of font types/weights within one project to 3 or 5. For a larger book this may be more difficult—but rules are meant to be broken sometimes. Just remember to not get carried away! And to break rules with intention.

  • Font Sizes: One tip I tend to follow myself is to set font size rules at the beginning. Similarly to the three font type rule listed above, try to stick to a 5 font size rule.
    • Large Headers (30 pt or above): these are excellent for adding a more graphic feel to your project while simultaneously helping your reader/viewer follow along the outline.
    • Primary Headers (16-24 pt): these help separate sections within your copy and help with navigation.
    • Sub Headers (12 pt bold): these help distinguish sections even further and break up the text.
    • Body Copy (10-12 pt regular): this is your primary body copy. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking 12 pt is too small—It is not. 
    • Footnote/Page Count (8 pt): For lesser information or page navigation, keep it small. These need to feel like they’re in the background of the rest of the book.


Request a Quote: Learn More

Speak to a Specialist: Learn More 



This blog is not about giving you writing tips. But, hey, body copy deserves to be pretty, too!

  • Leading: This is very important! Leading is the height between two lines of type. Set your leading to have some breathing room. Nothing makes it harder to read than single-spaced body copy.

  • Widows & Orphans: A widow is a short line, usually one word that is “widowed” to its own line at the bottom of a paragraph. This creates an uneasy break in the copy. Orphans are similar, except the short line is “orphaned” to the next page. Stay away!

  • Rags: A rag refers to the shape your paragraph makes. You don’t want the shape of the paragraph to be distracting, so insert manual page breaks if need be. Another option, especially for a multi-columned layout, is to justify the paragraph. Be wary though, because this can create its own iffy spacing between words and characters (kerning and tracking…but that’s for another day).


When designing for print, it is absolutely crucial to have images and graphics of high quality.

PerfectBound_03_resize PerfectBound_04_Brighter


  • DPI:image-res_490x330 The image will ideally be 300 dpi at the appropriate dimensions, but 200 dpi at the lowest. Web images are recommended to be saved at 72 dpi to load quickly, so be careful when saving images from the internet for a print project.

  • Vector: When using graphics, do your best to utilize a vector graphic (scalable) versus a raster graphic. This keeps the sharpness of your graphics top-notch and admirable by even the most nitpicky designer. If a vector isn’t possible, then follow the same rules explained above for images.




Make sure your project is navigable. Tips 1-6 will absolutely help this, but here are a few more to make sure your reader isn’t getting lost.

  • Page Numbers
  • Chapter/Section Titles at the top of the page
  • Table of Contents




Composition is extremely tricky. Consistency built by using all tips up to this point will help solve the problem for you, but some creative solutions will still be necessary. One thing I do to help my composition seem fully cohesive is abide by the 12 inch 12 foot rule. What I mean by this is when you’ve been staring at and obsessing at one page of your layout for a long time, you must remember to take a step back, zoom out, to see the entire layout, and evaluate how that page fits within the whole. Doing this regularly will keep you from merely designing individual pages and help lead to a cohesive book with an excellent user experience. If you zoom out and see that everything is kind of blending together, here are some extra tips to spice up your overall composition.

  • Add in a full spread! These can provide a nice break for your reader.

  • Don’t be afraid of color. In fact, make an entire page one solid color. A good place for these is for at the beginning of a chapter/section. A nice solid page with some larger scale navigational copy (i.e. chapter number and name) can give your composition exactly what it needs.

  • Color scheme! Consistent color schemes or patterns help the composition of the book as well. You should have your main colors, but also have your accent colors! When your text is getting boring, add in a pop of something colorful. If it’s within your color scheme and you place it with intention, then it won’t seem out of place. A good tip for picking your color scheme is to sample from your cover image or a primary image from the text. And as always, be sure you’re working in cmyk ;).




Free Online Book Designer

With our online design tool, it is easier than ever to design your saddle stitch, perfect bound, spiral, or wire-o book.

Online Design Tool

 Predesigned Book Template Downloads

If you have the Adobe design software (Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator) then you can choose between one of our many free book template grid downloads to help jump start your design!


If you are starting a calendar project and would like to speak with an expert, feel free to give us a call at 800-995-1555. Ready to place your next calendar order? Visit our website to get started!