I have a hardcover from Everyman's Library whose fore-edge is a concave crescent. (See first picture.) Is there a word for this effect? Second, and more importantly, how might I achieve this effect in manual bookbinding?

Edit: I have added three pictures of a book I am currently working on, which is bound using a French link stitch (and kettle stitch). Is it at too late a stage to attain the desired effect?

Chris H's comment helped me realize that the French link stitch is loose enough to push the pages back to form something like the desired effect. It then becomes a question of, first, doing something at the spine to secure this shape; and second, rounding out the sort of plateaux formed at the fore-edge by so pushing an already square-cut fore-edge into a crescent shape (see fourth picture). As regards the first question, is there a way to do this without covering the parts of the spine where stitching is apparent?

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  • 1
    Have you already chosen a type of binding (if so what) or could you select one to help achieve the effect?
    – Chris H
    Jul 2, 2023 at 17:07
  • 1
    @ChrisH Your comment helped me realize that the relevant terms are 'fore-edge,' 'rounding,' and 'backing.' I have renovated my question and added pictures. I will look into rounding and backing.
    – Noah J
    Jul 2, 2023 at 17:47
  • I know very little about bookbinding but I don't believe that the crescent is put into the book from the beginning. All pages are cut the same size so it could be that humidity over time has caused the adhesive to expand/contract to create the crescent. If you take a look at a similarly bound book that is brand new, it will not have the crescent.
    – agarza
    Jul 3, 2023 at 13:18
  • @agarza Thank you for your comment. 54 seconds into this video youtube.com/watch?v=kgCCevCsE1A is a good example of a book made to have a concave fore-edge. (Despite the fact that I am aware of this instructional video I have not yet worked my way through it closely enough or discovered whether it is practicable to implement the advice in the video for the particular book I am working on --- nor do I know at all how to achieve such smoothness in the fore-edge as the book at 0:54 has. So my question still stands.)
    – Noah J
    Jul 3, 2023 at 17:07
  • @NoahJ I learned something new. I see how the crescent can be shaped. Thank you for enlightening me.
    – agarza
    Jul 3, 2023 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


There are two main methods to achieve this output:

  1. Case binding with rounded spine: The standards case binding style where the text block is sewn and adhered to cloth or board covers. The spine is rounded rather than flat for a cleaner aesthetic.
  2. German case binding: A variation of case binding where the spine and joint area are rounded and reinforced with cloth for extra strength and flexibility, which is commonly used for heavy books.

More details

  1. In rounded spin (first method) the book pages are sewn and then rounded using a process called backing. After backing the cover is attached usually by gluing it to spine. this method is commonly used in all paperback and some hardcover books.

  2. In German binding (case binding, hardcover binding), the book block (the sewn-together pages) are attached to the cover by means of endpapers and a lining material.

    • Endpapers: folded sheets that connect the book block to the cover
    • Lining material: Such as cloth or paper, is used to reinforce the connection between the book block and the cover.

Graphic of 'Spine Linings' showing Japanese paper; Clothe spine linings; and Slips, tapes, or frayed-out cords

Your questions

Is there a word for this effect?

Yes, German Binding (Case Binding, Hardcover Binding)

How might I achieve this effect in manual bookbinding?

  1. Prepare the book block
  2. Prepare the cover
  3. Attach endpaper
  4. Attach the book block
  5. Create the spine lining
  6. Finish the cover

You may also find German Case (Bradel) Binding useful.

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