Just like wood, paper has a grain direction. In bookbinding this direction is vitally important. Imagine a sheet of corrugated cardboard – it bends very easily in one direction and not the other. The same applies to a sheet of paper. The two terms used are Long Grain and Short Grain.
In a book the grain must run from top to bottom for it to function properly. If the grain is wrong all sorts of horrible things will happen: the book will not open very well; the paper will crease and buckle; great strain and stress is put on the stitching and could even break it; and the general ‘feel’ of the book will never feel right.
Many printing firms do not care about grain direction or even know about it. They ‘cut for economy’. If you are buying paper or having printing done always check that the grain direction runs from top to bottom, parallel to the spine of the book.
Footnote: If you have already had your printing done and discover that it is ‘wrong grain’ we can still bind it for you, but you won’t be happy with it and we certainly won’t.