What’s the Difference Between Leather Bound And Bonded Leather?

Leather bound and bonded leather. Sounds pretty similar right? But are they?

Yes, it creates massive confusion for novices when they research leathercraft or generally want to purchase a leather product.

Truth be told, these two terms are nothing alike. A leather-bound is a book bound with leather mostly for decorative purposes whereas bonded leather is a cheap form of leather used as an alternative to real leather.

That being said, there’s no catch whatsoever. Bonded leather can be used to bind books which cause mass confusion.

And that shall be all if you are a neophyte. However, there’s more to these terms. So if you want to dig a little more into these terms you have an entire article to read!

What Is Leather-Bound?

Ever since the Romans first invented the process of folding and binding stacks of papers together back in the 1st century CE, bookbinding has been extremely popular all over Europe. By the 2nd century, these types of codex were preferred by all early Christians.

Soon after, Julius Caesar used vellum- a traditional writing surface of thin animal skin-  to bind his book pugillares membranei. Leather-bound books have been extremely popular in the bookbinding tradition ever since.

Later on, decorative designs were added to the surface of the leather-bound books which earned it more success and popularity and were used in many important books throughout history including The Bible.

Later by the 4th century, these leather-bound books were available in libraries like Nag Hammadi Library.

Types of Leather Used for Leather Bound      

Leather bounds can be made from a variety of different types of leather. It often varies with the price, quality, and durability of the leather. Here are some varieties.

Vellum: It is a fine type of leather derived from young calves and lambs. It is smoothly grained making it able to shrink which makes it finely fitted and tightly covering when stretched over boards. The British Parliament records its laws on vellum for its durability.

Calfskin: This is the top-grained leather extracted from calves. It is smooth, light brown leather but often dyed to give a very distinct final product

Morocco: This popularly traded leather from Morocco is a goatskin, distinguished by its beautiful pebble grains.

Roan: It is a cheaper alternative to the Morocco leather derived from sheepskin and dyed.

Skiver:  A cheap alternative of outer grain sheep or goat used more popularly in spine labels.

Bonded Leather: This is another cheap alternative to real, genuine leather. This is formed from leather fibers merged with other materials, making it barely leather and non-durable.

Decorative Techniques on Leather Bound

Decorating leather surfaces were naturally invented ages ago due to the versatility of leather. Several methods are used to this day to craft the art of decorating leather bound.

  • Gold tooling: It is the art of covering the leather with gold leaf.
  • Embossed: It is the most commonly practiced in leather designing where the leather is pushed down to form designs.
  • Blind tooling: This technique involves engraving designs on leather bound and leaving them uncolored to match the surrounding material.
  • Dentelle: This is a simple form of design achieved by running along borders on the edges of the book.

Leather Bound Techniques

Leather can be bound using different techniques.

  • The Half Leatherbound:  It covers the spine and borders with leather and the remaining parts are covered with thick paper or cloth.
  • Quarter Leatherbound: It covers only the spine and the front and back are mostly covered with thick paper or cloth.
  • The three-quarter leatherbound:  This covers the spine and borders but it covers greater areas with leather, approximately ¾ of the outer surface as the name suggests.

What Is Bonded Leather?

When you fancy a nice leather product you ever wonder how the prices could be so cheap! If so you should know all leather is not the same! There are a thousand varieties of leather available on the market that often confuses us.

Bonded leather is one of them. This type of leather gives the feel of real leather but just contains about 10-20% of genuine real leather. The production of bonded leather is somewhat similar to that of papers. The shredded leather scraps are mixed with bonding materials and extruded onto a cloth. Then dye is added which comes in a variety of different colors which high-end leather wouldn’t generally have.

For the final touch, it is coated with polyurethane to add to the nice sheen, and designs are added to maximize imitation real leather.

This type of leather is used as a cheaper, more economical alternative to real leather. Bonded leather gives the feel and touch of almost all real leather, however, they are non-durable but can save you quite some cash!.

What Is Bonded Leather Used For?

Bonded leather can be used in any application as an alternative to real leather but is less durable. However, many people prefer bonded leather over real leather as it is more environmentally friendly it uses leftovers, and does not require additional farming.

Bonded leather is soft and pliable thus giving it a smooth surface. Therefore it can be used for sofas and chairs making them comfortable and cheap.

It can also be used for bookbinding and adds more to the designs as it has more colors and textures of the surfaces. Many cheap brands also used bonded leather to manufacture fashion accessories as it is more economical and has a wide range of design choices. Cheap diaries, pocket pads, various desk accessories all use bonded leather for a cheap price.

Overall, bonded leather can be used in almost anything as real leather. It has more designs and textures, is cheap, environment-friendly, easy to clean, and many more features which make it affordable and usable.

Characteristics of Bonded Leather

Before making your bonded leather purchase there are a couple of attributes of bonded leather that you should know so you know what to expect.

  • They come in a variety of different colors.
  • They are cheaper than real leather.
  • It has an unexpectedly smooth texture, unlike real leather.
  • They smell like real leather but are inconsistent.
  • They can be made into large sheets to cover large materials like furniture.

Similarities Between Bonded Leather and Leather Bound

Bonded leather and Leather bound are two different things and don’t have many practical similarities. However, there are some basic similarities between them.

-They both use animal skin and raw materials.

-They both can be designed.

-They are tanned after use.

Differences Between Leather Bound and Bonded Leather

Like I mentioned many times leather-bound and bonded leather are a far cry from each other. There are tons of differences between them as they are two different things, Here are some:

Leather BoundBonded Leather
Can be expensiveRelatively cheaper than real leather
It is traditional bookbinding but using leather for the cover.It is a cheap alternative to leather
There is a variety of leather that can be used for leather-bound: vellum, calfskin, etc.It is a cheap form of leather.
Decoration of different techniques can be applied: blind tooling, dentelle, embossed, etc.Only Applique decoration can be applied for bonded leather.

Is Bonded Leather As Good As Real Leather?                 

Is bonded leather as good as “real” leather? The answers to the question. No!

That being said, the price also plays a huge role. Bonded leather is relatively cheaper, affordable, and economical than real leather.

But in terms of durability and feel real leather buries bonded leather.

So it narrows down to what you want and not which is better.

If you want a quick, fashionable affordable leather application go for bonded leather. However, if you want a classy, good quality, and long durable genuine leather you pick with eyes closed.

How long will Bonded Leather last?                 

Bonded leather is not durable but a quick affordable product.

With proper care, bonded leather can last 2-3 years without any issues. After that, they generally peel off and crack within five years. It becomes unserviceable soon after and the only place you can place it then in the basement.


With all that said, it is pretty clear that bonded leather and leather-bound are two distinct terms. I hope that the confusion is all clear because these two terms conflict with each other to form huge confusion to people thinking they mean the same.

Leather bound is a book bonded with leather and bonded leather is a cheap alternative to real leather and can be used for bookbinding. 

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