"Education in the Bindery World"
[Column #53, 5/99]

In many of my past articles, I have discussed the ongoing problems that trade binders face simply because designers and printers do not have a good working knowledge of basic binding and finishing techniques. Binding and finishing has traditionally been viewed as the least important step in a long process (and the final step in what is usually a rush job), with little emphasis on educating people in the field.

While I’m used to the stigma of working at the nonglamorous end of the food chain, I find it maddening that what we do is so misunderstood. The inability to communicate critical information to your postpress finishing house costs time, aggravation, and money-commodities none of us can afford to waste. Planning ahead for the binding and finishing portion of a job should be automatic.

The graphic arts industry spends comparatively little time instructing students in postpress issues. This is ironic because the binding and/or finishing portion of any project can easily make or break a job. Let’s face it, marketing is everything and even the most well-written copy and the most beautifully printed product are lost in a shoddy-looking finished piece. Conversely, a trashy manuscript or a poorly printed piece in a beautifully bound cover with added finishing is likely to be plucked off a shelf much quicker. In Europe, the postpress portion of a job is recognized as the most critical portion of the printing and binding process. In the United States, the opposite is true. (Maybe I chose the wrong place to start my business!)

With that said, I am heartened to report that this attitude is slowly changing and in recent years an increasing number of designers and printers have recognized the need to educate themselves in this field. They are eager to learn, but often find it difficult to fill this need because of the lack of both classroom time and materials. There aren’t many books out there dedicated solely to binding and finishing so printers are often scrambling for bits of information pulled from their postpress house, the Internet, and the brief sections of their printing manuals dedicated to the subject.

A few weeks ago, I was pleased and surprised when someone handed me a copy of a newly published book entitled Binding, Finishing, & Mailing: The Final Word. This book, which provides an in-depth and updated overview of basic binding, finishing, and mailing techniques was written and edited by T.J. Tedesco in conjunction with 12 experts in the postpress industry. It is a compilation of industry trade articles (such as this one) formatted in an easy-to-read textbook style complete with photographs and diagrams. The book was published by GATF and is being used in the classrooms of vocational schools and other companies and associations in the graphic arts industry.

Among the many worthy contributors to this compilation are Jack Rickard of Rickard Bindery in Chicago, Illinois; Ken Boone of Direct Marketing Associates, Inc. (DMA), in Baltimore, Maryland; and Jerry Nocar of Advantage Book Binding, Inc., in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Binding, Finishing, & Mailing: The Final Word has six sections that take you from the planning process through the sales and marketing function of a job.

The first section, entitled Before the Bindery, covers the importance of postpress knowledge, the state of the industry and the changing technology, how to plan and communicate properly with your postpress house, preflight, and other pertinent topics.

The second section offers an overview of the basic binding techniques including folding, perfect binding, lay-flat binding, glues and testing, saddle stitching, on-demand booklet binding, mechanical binding, case binding, remoistenable glue, and looseleaf binders.

The third section covers finishing and provides a look at UV and press-applied coatings, diecutting, embossing, debossing, foil stamping, laminating, tabs and indexes, point-of-purchase displays, polybagging, and transit marking.

The fourth section (and one that is definitely a first for the industry) deals with mailing issues. It covers issues such as data management, inkjet printing, laser printing, commingling, drop shipping, and fulfillment. All these things have improved dramatically in recent years and have become an integral part of the postpress industry.

The fifth section provides an overview of important issues facing the binding and finishing industry today. Among them are quality control and ISO 9002 certification, expansion issues, growth management in small companies, vertical integration, speeding up the outsourcing process, finding and keeping good employees, dealing with your own mistakes, relocating a business, and changing a corporate identity.

The final section is a discussion of graphic arts sales and marketing techniques including customer nurture programs, sales tips to win top-of-mind positioning, low-cost “shot-gun” and “rifle” marketing vehicles, and avoidance of seasonal sales slumps. In addition, there is a glossary of industry terms for the reader to use as a reference guide.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book is the vast collection of knowledge and experience it offers through its many contributors whose hearts and souls are consumed with the business. It’s nice to know that some of these articles I’ve written might actually be read-and used to educate!

This book is only one means of introducing the printing community to the binding and finishing world. Both binders and printers must accept responsibility for the teaching process by working together and sharing information via newsletters, seminars, plant tours, and other helpful educational programs. At Bindagraphics, we offer a popular one-day seminar called Binda University that provides a complete overview of all the basic binding and finishing techniques as well as a hands-on look at each of the processes in action.

To order Binding, Finishing, and Mailing: The Final Word, contact Peter Oresick of GATF at 1-800-910-GATF. For more specific information about the book, contact the author, T.J. Tedesco, by telephone (301-294-9900); or e-mail tedesco@erols.com.