All hail coil-bound gaming books

More RPGs and supplements should be coil-bound, or offer a coil-bound version. Coil-bound books lay flat and stay open, making them a joy to use at the gaming table.

Away from the table, I prefer perfect-bound (traditional softcover) or hardcover for reading, and hardcover for bigger table-use books (large-diameter coils suck, and a big hardcover will generally stay open pretty well). For modules, I prefer saddle-stitched binding, which lays flat but can also be held by the base of the spine to keep my players from seeing any spoilers (assuming a relatively short module, of course).

But for table use, for most books, coil binding is king.

Here’s my coil-bound copy of Savage Worlds (paid link), which sits next to me at every session. It gets far more use than my second copy, which is just a regular softcover.

Note that SW doesn’t come coil-bound, but for just a few bucks any office store with a printing/binding section will chop off the spine and coil-bind a book for you. Given that the core book for SW retails for under $9 shipped on Amazon, even coil-bound it’s cheaper than most gaming books.

I didn’t come up with this genius idea: Kurt Schneider, Gnome Stew emeritus and all around awesome dude, showed me his coil-bound SW rulebook a few years ago at Gen Con. I’m grateful to Kurt for turning me on to the beauty of coil binding.

One of the only publishers I’m aware of who consistently offers alternate binding options, including coil, is Chris Gonnerman. Check out his Lulu spotlight for Basic Fantasy RPG, and you’ll see coil and saddle-stiched versions of the books for which those bindings make sense. It’s awesome.

If you’ve never tried a coil-bound gaming book, give it a shot.

10 thoughts on “All hail coil-bound gaming books”


    Awesome! I agree wholeheartedly… Coil bound books are great at the game table. Years ago (during my AD&D2e days) my
    Tome of Magic book fell apart, and a friend
    helped me get it coil bound. It worked like
    a charm!

    1. Martin Ralya

      That was one of my favorite 2e books. It almost didn’t fit with the other stuff TSR was putting out around the same time — more disruptive, more creative in a lot of ways.

  2. I tried to do this through Lulu a month ago, and they denied the service to me saying it was a breach of copyright. Not sure if I f’d it up somehow or not, but really disheartening. May go the office max route if that works for you all.

    1. Martin Ralya

      I think they’re obligated to do that depending on the nature of the file, but I could be wrong. Chopping a print copy in-store should work, though.

      1. Roxysteve

        I had one lady refuse to do it in a Staples on the grounds that cutting out the spine was breach of copyright, but I think the actual rule is that you can’t put a non-transparent/replacement cover on the finished article. Provided the original press and author info are still discernible it can’t be breach of copyright, surely?

  3. Roxysteve

    I coil bind all my “explorer” sized books, including every Savage Worlds EE style book I own, Fiasco! and Wonkhammer 401k.

    I invented this idea myself and absolutely did not steal it from a Martin Ralya stewed gnome article of years ago.

    Everyone I meet thinks it’s a great idea, especially the Deadllands GM I gamed with on Sunday who’s Player Handbook was falling apart.

    These days, away from the table I’m increasingly using pdf format rather than print.

  4. Roxysteve

    I also recommend going for an oversized coil when you have this done, so clods stand less chance of tearing the pages out as they flip them.

    1. Martin Ralya

      Huh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that option. Interesting tip, though!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top