Digital Book Printing + Smyth Sewing -- Can It Be Done Well?


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I am a small publisher/designer of coffee table-type books, but can only juggle so many 500+ offset projects. I am also intent on Smyth sewn binding because you can't make a 4/4 hardcover look high-end without it.

A guy with an old Smyth (8?) machine who worked for a company with an Indigo 12000 convinced me it could be done and in the end I lost a lot of money.

I've been reconsidering it for another book (8.5 x 11" hardcover 4/4 text) with a different printer, but it turns out they are running an Indigo 7500 and a Muller Martini Diamant MC Digital. Though my knowledge of printing equipment is limited, from what I understand, an Indigo 7500 doesn't print signatures and the Diamant MC Digital is not a Smyth sewing machine. My general questions are:

1) Is this combination worth pursuing?
2) Is there a tested machine that can make a digital book look like an offset book binding-wise?
3) Should I just forget about this as a cheat for cheaper books with an offset look and feel?

Thanks for your time, and any feedback is appreciated.

P.S. Is there a forum for publishers like Print Planet?


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Well-known member
What about the printing process was making it so you could not do the sewn binding? I would think the pages could be printed via any method the binding is being done separately from the printing. Is it because a certain paper is required that doesn't run well on digital? Is it the look of the printing?

Just from looking at the website the Muller Martini Diamant MC Digital looks to be glue bound and not stitched, have you gotten a sample of a book from that binder? Maybe even if it's not stitched it would have the look you are wanting.


Well-known member
We've done quite a few case bound books on the Indigo.
We do a section sewn imposition using 4pp signatures precollated into 16, 24 or 32pp signatures for sewing. It really makes no difference whether you're printing in 4's on a digital press or 8's or 16's on offset, the principal is the same, you precollate the sewn sections, stack them into a book block, print endpapers, trim the book block, apply the endpapers, case it in, then apply head & tail bands, ribbons, dust jacket etc.

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