Binding Race Heats Up
Books-on-demand (BOD) systems have long promised a more convenient, responsive, and cost-effective way to get titles to readers, especially when dealing with short-runs or backlists.
Now one BOD system manufacturer, Powis Parker Inc., is saying its thermal binding technology is more productive, too. Powis Parker pitted its recently upgraded Fastback 15 binding system against Ibico's Ibimatic.
In an in-house test, Powis Parker officials say their thermal binding equipment performed five-times faster than Ibico's punch-and-bind system for meeting perfect binding requirements.
"As books get larger, it takes longer to bind them, and thus it costs more," says Kevin Parker, president of Powis Parker, in Berkeley, Calif. "For a 300-page book, it can take four or five minutes to punch pages and assemble the book using comb or spiral binding."
That's in contrast to Powis Parker's thermal binding technology, which company officials say can bind a 300-page book in just 25 seconds. While this output is impressive, the faceoff wasn't necessarily a fair fight, pitting punch-and-bind against the inherently faster thermal technology.
Ibico also offers a thermal binding solution, dubbed the Therm-A-Bind, which company literature says is "the world's fastest, easiest, most versatile desktop binding system." But the Therm-A-Bind's actual performance is not noted. Ibico officials had not responded to Booktech's inquiries at press time.
Cost and time savings might not be the only benefit of Powis Parker's thermal binding technology. Analysts say it makes BOD a good choice for extremely small press runs—those smaller than what's typically considered the norm for short runs.
"The Powis Parker device is one of the few that makes sense for production levels of a few dozen toner-printed books a day," says George Alexander, an analyst for Seybold Reports, Media, Pa.
That's because start-up costs are relatively low, and the books it produces are worthy of placement in retail shelves, Alexander says. The quality compares favorably to more costly hot-melt perfect binding systems, designed to work with offset printed books.
"[Hot melt systems] are efficient when doing several hundred identical books, but not so efficient for one-off production," Alexander says. "The investment is also much greater. Prices start at $8,000, and rise quickly."
Powis Parker's Fastback 15 starts at around $4,200. The company can be reached at Powis.com.
- Esther Schindler
Esther Schindler is a freelance writer based in , Ariz.