Frequently Asked Questions

How are you able to provide such a fast turnaround with this style of thesis and dissertation binding while other binders take weeks or months?

We give our top priority to thesis binding. Other binders consider thesis customers as one-time difficult transactions. We have been binding theses for 50 years and often bind Senior, Masters and Ph.D. degrees for the same person, and their spouse as well. At Smith-Shattuck Bookbinding, the thesis customer is as highly regarded as a commercial one. We have always enjoyed the personal interaction with our customers and their expressions of appreciation for the finished books.

How do your binding methods differ from services offered by copy shops? 
The hard cover binding offered by the copy shops generally fall into two categories: Velobind or clamp binding. It is important to note that neither of these methods is permanent or archival. Velobind consists of a binding created with plastic fingers. Your pages are held in the vinyl cover with adhesive foam tape. With clamp binding, the pages are pushed into a U-shaped spring steel form that is glued into the book cover.

My university has different stamping requirements. Can you meet them? 
Over the years we have bound dissertations and theses for almost every major American and British university and college. Let us know what you need from your school and we’ll make it to match the proper specifications. That includes matching material color, spine stamping requirements, stamping color and size, as well as meeting archival requirements.

Does my book have to look like the ones shown on your site? 
No, our bindery adapts quickly to custom orders, and we are able to change almost every aspect of the final binding: the color of cover materials, placement, color, size and type of stamping, as well as size of binding. (A4, 11×17, 11×14, 6×9, 51/2 x 81/2 or any size in between).

Is laser printing my pages okay?
Yes, laser printing is okay. Please make sure your paper is laser compatible. This will help your paper from curling or coming out very wavy.

What is the best type of paper to use?
The best results are achieved with a 25 percent cotton paper, as it sews well and has good flexibility and copying qualities. Heavy paper such as 28lb or 32lb are too stiff and not well suited to oversewing but can be used if necessary. Our favorite brands are Permalife, Permadur, Strathmore, Fox River, Southworth, Neenah and Crane’s, except for Crane’s Thesis paper.

Are there other covering materials available?
We offer other fabrics, particularly with a linen finish as well as pigskin and cowhide leathers. There are three ways to view these covering materials: (1) in-person, (2) samples via mail, or (3) scanned samples via e-mail.

What is machine oversewing?
Machine oversewing is a technique in which books are divided into small sections of individual pages. The needles pass obliquely through pre-punched holes in the section itself, forming a lock stitch with each separate section and independent lock stitches all along the back. This strong and flexible binding process is unequaled by any other binding process.

What is buckram?
This is a poly-cotton covering material with an environmentally conscious 8.5pH level, dyed without heavy metals, and sealed with an aqueous acrylic clear top coating. The result is an exceptionally durable, archival-grade material.

What is binder board?
It is a heavy archival board made from 100 percent post-consumer waste paper including newspaper and office paper. This board is manufactured using a “wet laid” process, which builds up and presses wet fibers to form a solid sheet. This is what we use to create the covers of our books.

Does binding with archival materials make a difference?
Yes, it makes a huge difference. Have you ever picked up an old copy of a newspaper or an old family bible? The paper is often brittle, yellow and tears or crumbles when you turn the pages. Newspaper and old books were often made with non-archival paper and materials. The same sort of crumbling, yellowing and tearing will happen over time to almost all paper products created with a low pH level (high acidity) or a non-archival process. Our cloth, board, string and glue meet the highest archival standards available. This means that your book will still be intact, easily read and handled without worry for many generations to come.

Besides universities, who are your other bookbinding clients?
Our past and present clients include: Institute for Advanced Study, The Hillier Group, Educational Testing Service, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Print Mail Systems, Matrix Development Systems, Medical Center at Princeton, McCarter Theater, George Street Playhouse, Michael Graves Architects, Taylor Photo, Presbytery of New Brunswick, The Peddie School, Princeton Alumni Weekly, University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ, Hermitage Press, The Lawrenceville School and Nassau Presbyterian Church. We have also worked on limited editions and custom binding projects for many private individuals.

I have a book, but I need help designing the pages of the book before I can do the bookbinding. Can you recommend someone to help me with this process?
For graphic design help, production assistance, scanning entire books, collections of documents, or photo albums, professional archiving services are available through our daughter Cyndi Shattuck. Coordination of your project can be done through our bindery in Princeton or the studio in Manhattan.

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