Commercial perfect binding is done using thermal glue. However, you can easily perfect bind a book in your own home or workshop. Think about a paperback book. A paperback is not held together with stitches or staples. The papers of the book are always flush with the binding. If a paperback book breaks, typically it is going to break in sections that still remain together. This is called perfect binding.
Perfect Binding a Book
One of the nice things about this type of binding is that it is relatively easy and you don't need a lot of perfect binding equipment. For example, it would be really nice to have a perfect book binder that you can use to hold your papers tightly in place. In fact, you can easily make one using scrap wood, nuts, screws and bolts. A book binder is simply a tray with a back and one partial side on it so that you can square your papers and a front with a piece of wood that you can use to screw down on the paper to hold it in place. Of course, you can always use a phone book and clamps instead.
Take all of the papers that are going to make up the interior of your book and tap them together for alignment. If you are using a book binder, square them in the binder and clamp them in place. If you are using a phone book, square the papers, flatten then with the phone book and clamp them in place.
Roughen the edges of the clamped papers a little using 200 or 300 grit sandpaper. Paper is made of fibers that are absorbent. Roughing the edges of the papers will help the paper glue together more strongly. Dab some contact cement or PVA glue along the spine. Then, spread the glue evenly along the spine using a brush or a cotton ball. Let the glue dry completely per the glue's instructions.
Many use heavy cover stock paper for their books' covers. While your book is drying, pre-fold your cover stock so that it will wrap around the book and the book's spine tightly. Add glue to the spine again and place the cover over the book snugly. Clamp everything back into place and let dry completely.
As you become more comfortable perfect binding your books, you will find yourself getting more creative. You might try decorating your covers or trying different materials for covering. Remember, if you use materials other than paper, make sure that you use the right kind of glue to bind your cover and papers together.