pster wrote:This is a sewn book. The problem is not in the inner pages but rather a crack between the front cover and the first page. The quality seems quite high although I can't speak to the other specifics you list. When I received it, I was very impressed with how solid it seemed. Indeed, I would have rated it the sturdiest book I had ever seen. But unfortunately, it cracked in the first week. It seemed to be bound too tightly. If books were athletes, I would say this one was on steroids, and so eventually snapped.
It's difficult to say what the cause is without seeing the book, but generally when you get separation between the book block and the cover at the inner joint as you describe it is because the material (usually an open-weave cloth) that is stuck to the spine and then carried across beneath the paste-downs is either not strong enough, not wide enough, or not properly stuck down. I had an atlas once that was 24 inches high, weighed 5 kg, but had no reinforcement at the joint at all and whose boards were effectively held on only by the endpapers. The binding broke down very quickly indeed.
The tightness at the joint you describe is a common fault in case-bound books, (all mainstream hardbacks are case-bindings), but normally the cloth reinforcement will withstand the forces of board-opening for some time before the joint fails.
Paul Derouda wrote:Can even expensive hardback books be just glued together nowadays? That's outrageous.
Yes, it's sadly all too common nowadays. Firstly publishers make an initial cost-saving (a trifling saving per book, but significant when spread over the whole print-run) by adhesive-binding rather than machine-sewing their books, and secondly the books, being less durable, are removed by natural wastage relatively rapidly from circulation on the second-hand market, so creating a greater perennial demand for new copies, the continued sale of which gives the publisher his all-important cut.
Paul Derouda wrote: I took it to a bookbinder, which cost 30 e if I remember correctly, and after the repair it was almost like new.
Yes, do patronise your local craft bookbinder. Ask him or her to explain the advantages of a hand-bound book over a machine-made one. I had a full-sized Liddell and Scott in its original publisher's case-binding, and it survived about six months of daily use. 20 years ago it was re-sewn on linen tapes and re-bound in double-warp buckram round laminated boards. It has lasted to this day with no signs of structural weakness having yet become apparent.