Cloth is a fabric produced by weaving cotton, linen, or wool yarn into a thread that can be used for clothing, upholstery, and household purposes such as book-covering material. Cloth has historically been an economical solution when applied as covering material to books for publication purposes.
Cloth-bound books feature covers made of cloth with intricate decorations printed or embossed onto them, usually sewn or glued directly onto each page of the book. Cloth-bound books cost more than their paper-bound counterparts but last longer and are more durable overall.
Some publishers use cloth as an elegant alternative to paper for the covers of their flagship titles, like Penguin Random House with their Penguin Classics line of literary classics. Cloth-bound books also remain highly desirable among collectors.
Though cloth-bound books are most frequently seen in hardcover format, they also exist as softcover (also referred to as paperback) books or digital formats such as Google’s and Microsoft’s digitization efforts of major libraries’ collections of cloth-bound books.
Cloth has long been considered an indispensable material in book production. Not only is it used to cover hardcover books with cloth covers and serve as binding material, but it is also considered elegant as it gives books their signature luxurious aesthetic and feel. Cloth has proven durable against wear-and-tear wear while simultaneously creating elegant books.
Cloth book construction is more than aesthetic. Publishers also prefer this material due to its strength and longevity – hardcover books bound with cloth can last many years of use by libraries and individual book collectors.
While cloth has historically been the go-to material for bookbinding, other options exist, such as paper or plastic; nonetheless, cloth remains popular due to its beauty, durability, and practicality.