What’s With Perfect Binding?

Why would anyone go to all the bother of doing a section-sewn hardback when POD services all over the planet will do you a “perfect bound” book at a fraction of the cost?

POD is ultimately about economy and convenience; it’s fantastically cheap and that’s a great thing. But POD books are typically “perfect bound”, which means the individual leaves are glued to the spine. This is fine for many books but repeated use will cause the glue to crack and split, and eventually the pages will separate from the spine. For this reason perfect binding is less suitable for reference books.

My latest copy of Delving Deeper (a perfect bound POD booklet from Lulu.com) is no exception:

Perfect Bound Spine Splitting.
Perfect Bound Spine Beginning to Split.

In all I own own four copies of the Delving Deeper Ref Rules Compendium. One of them is sitting on my shelf in virtually untouched condition. The other three copies are work-horses in various states of disrepair due to regular, but hardly unreasonable, use.  

My original copy is about nine months old and is just about ready to be binned: 

Ref Rules Compendium V4 in a Sorry State.
Ref Rules Compendium V4 in a Sorry State.

On the other hand, I have a shelf load of AD&D hardbacks printed throughout the 1980s that are still going strong.  Of course these more durable books have sewn binding techniques, not perfect binding!