1 the act of becoming stiff; "stiffening his shoulders, he prepared to advance"
- An item, material or feature that makes something stiffer than it would be without it.
- present participle of stiffen
In bookbinding, stiffening is a process whereby paperback books are reinforced for use in libraries, without change to their fundamental binding structure. It is in use at several academic libraries in the United States, including those at Cornell University and Johns Hopkins University.
During the stiffening process, a cloth or Tyvek strip is glued down on the inside joints of a paperback to reinforce the attachment of the book's covers. A thin but stiff board is then glued to the inside of both the front and back cover of the book, and the entire book is trimmed slightly on the head, tail, and fore edge, often with an electric guillotine.
Stiffening provides an in-house, inexpensive alternative to commercial library binding for paperbacks. While it does not involve (re-)sewing a book as in a library binding, stiffening does significantly prolong the usable life of a paperback, and allows paperbacks to stand upright on library shelves. The stiffening process was invented in 1974 by John Dean, who was Head of Preservation at Johns Hopkins at the time.