Binding is the process of joining unfolded or folded printed sheets into finished products such as books, directories, folders, catalogs, and magazines. Bookbinders are trained workers that perform binding tasks by hand or using other equipment.
What does a bookbinder do?
Bookbinders bind a variety of materials using a variety of steps depending on the project. When working with books and magazines, bookbinders assemble large and flat printed sheets of paper and use machines to fold the sheets into sequential pages. They join them with perfect binding without stitches or using saddle stitches. They form covers separately and they are stitched, pasted, or glue to the bodies of the books. Bookbinders are also often involved in wrapping books in paper jackets and performing other finishing touches. Bookbinders also perform repairs on books by stitching, sewing, or gluing assembled printed sheets. They reshape and reinforce the books using machines and fabric strips. Some bookbinders work in hand binderies where they create original and special bindings for books that are limited editions. They also rebind or restore rare books.
What kind of training does a bookbinder need?
Bookbinders need at least a high school diploma and many complete training at vocational and technical schools. Some employers prefer applicants with associate degrees. Most bookbinders learn their skills through on the job training. They begin with simple tasks and then move on to more complex tasks as they gain experience. They learn basic binding skills, how to use machines, and the procedures of the employer. Some employers offer formal apprenticeships where new bookbinders gain experience and skills by participating in classroom instruction and working with experienced workers. Bookbinders must keep up to date on changing technology and employers often provide additional training.
What are the prospects for a career as a bookbinder?
Employment of bookbinders is expected to decline rapidly, decreasing 17% through 2016 (1). Technological advances and increased use of computers for binding has contributed to the job decline.
Despite the rapid employment decrease, job prospects should be favorable because many bookbinders are leaving the field through retirement, transfer, or for other reasons. Bookbinders with formal training and extensive experience will have the best prospects.
How much do bookbinders make?
As of this year, the average annual salary for bookbinders is $39,000; average annual bookbinder salaries vary greatly on education, experience, location, employer, and benefits (2).
A career as a bookbinder is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in assembling books. Bookbinders must pay close attention to detail and have good manual dexterity to count, insert, and fold printed pages. Good eyesight, patience, accuracy, and neatness are essential characteristics. Bookbinders must also have mechanical aptitude to operate advanced automated equipment. They must also have creativity and artistic ability when dealing with bookbinding by hand. Bookbinders must be able to work under pressure and stress to meet deadlines.
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