GRAPH EXPO 14 Tales, Part Two: Longevity
One of the terrific things about trade shows is that they act as a sort of annual reunion where you get to catch up with many of the contacts you have missed during the past year. You may only have a few minutes to shoot the breeze with each one, but you'd be surprised at the insights you can gain in a two-minute conversation.
And so it was when I ran into Gary Thompson at the show. Gary has spent the better part of 30 years in book finishing. He's probably forgotten more about it than I will ever know. Much of it was with Taylor Publishing, which is now Balfour. I have visited Gary's shop just outside of Dallas, where school yearbooks are born. Gary has a lot of book sewing machinery in the plant, and we got onto the topic of book longevity.
There are many in the industry who believe that adhesives provide a good long life for both soft- and hard-cover books, at the right manufacturing cost. I'm one of them. "Not so fast," said Gary. Even when using PUR on a book block, a heavily handled large-format product like a school yearbook might lose some pages after five years or so. Not so with book signature sewing. A sewn book block will truly withstand a lifetime of use, and is the "only way to go" for such products.
And as far as adhesive binding goes, Gary felt that lots of folks were simply doing it wrong. The majority of perfect binders out there are set to mill an eighth of an inch or so from the spine end of the book block. In theory, this exposes enough paper fiber to create a form bond between the book block and cover. But there is also a "notching" blade which can be used. This round milling blade uses a steel projection to create notches deep into the book block. Adhesive will fill these, resulting in a more durable bond with the cover, or spine cap than simply using a conventional milling blade.