Hardcover Books: Case Bound Versus Case Wrapped

David Rogers

We introduced the two primary hardcover book binding options — case bound and case wrapped — in our previous article on types of bindings. But when deciding which of the two is best for your project, there are quite a few additional details you’ll want to consider.

Here at Advanced Print & Finishing, we’re often asked about the difference between the two types of hard cover books, and this is something you’ll want to understand before you print your book, as the two will result in extremely different looks. To get a better idea of how the two types of hardback books are different, you’ll want to start by understanding how they are the same.


The main similarities in the two types are in the overall way the books are assembled. The “case” in the name of both refers to the entirety of the cover, which consists of three pieces of book board — a type of cardboard — glued and wrapped in a cover material. It’s the choice of that cover material that distinguishes between the two types of hardcover books.

The inside pages of the book are then stacked and glued together to form a book block, and that block is held inside the cover by the end sheets, which will be discussed in further detail in a moment. The book block also can be Smyth sewn for added durability.

Case Bound: A Classic Look

A hardcover, case bound book

A case bound book with a book board wrapped in genuine leather. A custom foil stamped design creates the image on the cover.

Case bound books are most often wrapped in book cloth or leather. But within those two options, you can choose from different colors, types of cloth and grades of leather. Sometimes you’ll see these types of books include a dust jacket, so you get the both the classic look of a cloth or leather book and custom artwork printed on the dust jacket.

Though you cannot print directly on a case bound book, you can choose from a couple options to personalize the cover to your project:

Foil Stamping

With this method, your text is stamped onto your cover with a special foil, often gold or silver in color. We most often use Hot Stamp — or Galley Type — foil stamping for the cover of books, and this is included in your quote.

However, it should be noted that Hot Stamp is limited to text, and has limited font and size options. If you need additional text style options — or if you would like a foil stamped design — we also provide custom die services.


Alternatively, you also can choose to have the text of your book embossed to create a unique look and feel for your cover. As with a custom foil, the size, position, complexity and cover material all affect price; please call or email us if you are interested in these options.

Case Wrapped: Completely Customizable

A hardcover case wrapped book

A case wrapped book with a photo on the cover.

Case wrapped books give you the most design options for a hardcover book, as the cover is printed before it is applied to the book. One source of occasional confusion is that this printed cover is not separate from the cover, but rather applied permanently to the book board in the same manner as the cloth or leather of case bound books.

Of course, since your design is printed, you can choose any design for your cover. After printing, your cover will be laminated, and we offer both matte and gloss laminate options. Your choice will come down to your preferences for the particular project.

Other Options

Smyth Sewn

As mentioned previously, you also can have your hardcover book Smyth sewn. This option is available for both types of hardback books, and increases the strength of the already durable binding.

When a book is Smyth sewn, the book block is arranged as a stack of folded “signatures” — large sheets folded into sections that typically consist of 16-24 pages each. All of these signatures are then sewn together. Not only does this create a durable book, it also allows it to lay more flat when open for easier reading (or writing).

End Sheets

The end sheet of a hard cover book

An end sheet – also known as a fly leaf – is not part of the book block but instead glues the block into the cover of the book for case bound and case wrapped books. End sheets are a specially made, thicker paper that are durable enough to secure the block permanently into the cover. Standard end sheets are white and contain no printing, though custom colors and print options are also available.


You’ll often see multicolored ribbons on the top and bottom of the book spine of both types of hardcover books; these are the endbands. While these bands can add a unique element to the look of your book, it should be noted that they are purely aesthetic and serve no functional purpose.

A smyth sewn book with end bands

A Smyth Sewn case wrapped book with endbands. You can see where the folded signatures have been stacked together to form the book block. The black and white piece next to the spine is the endband.


Shrinkwrapping covers the entire book in a clear film. This also allows you to apply stickers to the outside of the book without damaging the dust jacket. It helps protect the book during the shipping and delivery process and is recommended for all hardcover (case bound and case wrapped) books.

If you have any additional questions or want to further explore custom printing options, please give us a call at 888-664-8166.