Be Your Own Bookbinder
Okay, so you’ve got an efficient digital print and finishing operation going. You’re able to produce short-run, softcover books with no problem. But … you’re still sending those hardcover orders out to a bindery that has lots of specialized equipment for hardcover.
Well … you can produce those short-run, hardcover orders in-house, and with great quality. In the last 10 years, a new generation of very short-run, hardcover systems have become available. The multiple finishing operations normally performed on large (and very expensive) bookbinding machines, have been incorporated into much smaller modules designed to tackle each step of hardcover production. Casemaking is the first step. And there are short-run casemakers available from On Demand Machinery, GP2, Schmedt, and others. One of the best things about this market is that both ODM and GP2 are domestic firms. Isn’t that a nice change?
The casemakers range from very low-cost, tabletop (and mostly manual) units, to more automated machines costing $100,000 or more. The next step in the process is building-in the book block to the case, and here there are also many options, from simple one-at-a-time units to more automated machines that will build-in the case, create the case joint, and smash (or press) the book at the same time.
In addition, the various vendors have been adding more automation over the years. GP2’s Cover-1 System uses a cover barcode to automatically cut and trim cover board material to the exact size needed for that particular book. The system then positions the board gluing jig to the dimensions of the cut board. This enables true “book-of-one” production, and eliminates the waste of board material. On Demand Machinery builds a short-run sewer that will sew book blocks up to one-inch-thick, enabling you to offer high-quality book sewing for on-demand production. Both ODM and GP2 also sell automated head-banding systems that speeds this often-manual process.
Photobooks are a big part of the hardcover market, and the vendors have not ignored this segment. ODM builds a complete lay-flat photobook system, as does Imaging Solutions AG of Switzerland. But on top of all of this new and glitzy machinery, the suppliers of bookbinding materials have also stepped up their game with new and innovative book binding materials specifically designed for high-quality, short-run bookbinding.
So if you’re printing short-run books, it might be time to consider bringing your hardcover orders “in-house.” The options are there for you to do so, and to do so with a customer-pleasing level of quality.