The Appeal of Unusual Bindings
Reinhard Gugler's collection of bindings provides an antidote to
run-of-the-mill designs, with the added benefit that it is also a
clever business idea. In an interview, the junior manager from
gugler cross media in Melk, Austria, looks at the latest trends and
explains why it makes sense not only to know about unusual types of
bindings, but also to use them.
Mr. Gugler, your collection comprises around 25 types of
binding, including a few unusual ones like Japanese binding. Are
these simply high fashion ideas like the clothing seen on a fashion
runway, or do they reflect a current market trend?
Reinhard Gugler: Unfortunately, everyday life is dominated
by run-of-the-mill concepts. Almost 90 percent of bindings are
traditional soft and hard cover designs with adhesive binding or
thread stitching. Orders for back stitched, open spine and Swiss
brochure are few and far between.
Why is demand so one-sided?
Gugler: Many companies are put off by the higher costs and
the greater risk involved. The situation is exacerbated by the fact
that many graphic designers are not so familiar the with different
types of binding and therefore tend to fall back on standard
techniques. When print shops receive the finished print data, it is
often already too late to make any changes. This must be done
during the design phase.
What factors must be taken into account when choosing a binding?
Gugler: Economic factors, such as production costs or the
opportunity to rationalize the manufacturing process, play a key
role in the choice of binding method. However, esthetic criteria,
such as opening properties, durability of the binding, and the look
of the product itself, are also important. Ideally, the binding
should support or strengthen the impact of the print product.
Is it likely that unusual bindings will soon disappear from the
Gugler: No, at our company at least they are gaining
ground. This is because we are gearing our products towards premium
customers. This enables us to set ourselves apart from the growing
competition arising from online print shops, which often offer only
standard binding techniques such as adhesive binding or saddle
stitching. We prefer to steer clear of "off-the-shelf" products and
focus instead on concepts that call for intensive consulting
services, such as art or fashion catalogs.
Where is this market segment headed?
Gugler: At gugler cross media, we are currently turning
our attention away from voluminous, flashy, and standard styles
towards a sense of understatement, which is where open thread
sewing comes in. In many cases, the observer's attention is
caught by the production process itself, which can appear to have
an unfinished look to it. Sometimes, we also combine several
unusual techniques. For example, we might integrate the open thread
sewing in a book cover to create a style similar to that of Swiss
brochure. This results in exciting creations that are very pleasant
to the touch but that are not found in any textbooks.
Binding Collection - a great success.
Where do you learn these things?
Gugler: It's a passion of mine. I learned all the
"traditional" binding techniques during my studies at the
"Höhere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt" in
Vienna. I'm constantly seeking to expand my repertoire and am
always on the look-out for beautiful print products. I collect any
unusual examples that I find.
How do you rate your prospects for the future?
Gugler: We are currently winning new customers and
establishing long-term partnerships with them by bucking the
current trends and managing unusual, complex projects. Our
customers never go directly to the book bindery. They contact us if
they want to find out about their production options. This means
that I have to know this segment inside out and understand how a
book sewing machine or book production line works, for example.
This is the only way I can offer my customers professional
consulting services and ensure that they return time and again. We
have two clients from New York, for example, who commission us
every season to produce their lookbooks. Both are brochures backed
with lining strip , one with hand-made paper laminated on the cover
and screen printing on the spine. The transport costs alone are
considerable, but the customer puts his heart and soul into his
collections and is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure he has
the perfect platform on which to present them.
How has your binding collection been received?
Gugler: It has been a great success. The demand profile
has changed. We now have more customers who come to us saying:
"I've seen this design from your company and I'd like to
have it, too." A printer at a different company even told me that
one of his customers asked for a binding from our collection.