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Superior Bindery - Universe, automatic book sewing machine for digital printing

Case study
Mike Hill, Senior Vice President of Superior Bindery
22 Mar 2021

Superior Bindery addresses the changing demand of the book industry with digital printing and high-end book finishing capability

Superior Bindery is a family-owned business founded over 30 years ago as a trade bindery and finishing house for the graphic industry. Since then the company, located just outside of Boston, has grown. It now has a team of 160 employees, working in a 9,000 square-meter  facility, to serve the printing industry with a wide range of binding, packaging, and finishing services.

Over the years, Superior Bindery has continuously invested in retooling the company by operating high-performance bookbinding machinery, increasing productivity and efficiency, as well as offering new services.

As a trade binder, Superior Bindery offers complete finishing solutions, especially for hard-cover books. They produce about 4.6 million offset hard bound books per year, of which 2.2 millions are thread-sewn, and 2.1 million Print-on-Demand (POD) hard covers in 2020.

Superior is known for its commitment to excellence and ability to always provide the highest quality.

Recently the company invested in a brand new asterPRO book-sewing machine to replace an older Aster™. Thanks to the many automatic features of the new model, which significantly reduces make-readies, Superior now produces a large quantity of high-end art books as well as trade books.

An important milestone for the future of Superior Bindery was the major investment made to address the changing demand of the book publishing market. With the creation of the digital division, Superior offers printing and finishing capability in short runs, leverages the POD business model, and offers Variable Data Printing (VDP) that enables the creation of personalized books in runs as few as a single copy.

We are seeing a big growth in the world of self-publishers,” says Mike Hill, Senior Vice President of Superior Bindery. “Through our portal, we are receiving many orders from people who want to print their own books in short runs of 100 copies or less.”

SELF PUBLISHING

Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of a publisher. Although not a new phenomenon, used in the past by renowned authors such as Jane Austen, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Marcel Proust, to name a few, book binding technology has radically changed and is now accessible by anyone who desires to publish their own manuscripts.

NEW PUBLISHING BUSINESS MODELS

In recent years, many publishers have adopted new business models to save money by reducing the cost of the book in its entire life cycle. By using the Print-on-Demand (POD) business model, publishers print books in short runs, address the market demand more accurately, and avoid letting books sit on bookshelves or warehouses.

POD can be useful for publishers in managing backlist titles or niche publications such as specialized academic works. The sales of small-run titles, taken individually may be irrelevant, but cumulative sales can be significant. By printing small batches at a time, Publishers minimize the risk of demand forecasting, avoid inadvertently printing many more copies than necessary, and therefore reduce the cost of warehousing and pulping.

CHALLENGE

With the investment in digital printing, Superior Bindery needed a finishing solution to produce high-quality thread-sewn books.

Some of the jobs, usually produced in offset, had to be printed in lower runs” said Mike Hill. “We were witness to a transition where in the past we would produce 5,000 copies starting from conventionally printed signatures, we are now seeing requests from customers who want high-end digitally printed books in runs ranging from 50 to 250 copies.

SOLUTION

The UNIVERSE™ book- sewing machine in the double feeding configuration proved to meet Superior Bindery’s new needs. The versatility of use and the ability to be fed with both digitally printed flat sheets and conventionally printed signatures were decisive in the choice.

EXCLUSIVE DOUBLE FEEDING FEATURE

The “double feeding” Universe™ features an automatic signature feeder to combine sheets from digital with offset signatures, opening new opportunities for printers. Alternatively, the unit may also run as a traditional book sewing machine.

RESULTS

With the UNIVERSE book-sewer we now have the ability to produce higher-end books digitally printed,” says Mike Hill. “The advantage of using thread-sewing instead of other binding methods is that it allows you to bind images in double-page spread, with pictures extending across the binding without losing part of the content in the center of the book, thanks to its intrinsic lay-flat properties.”

The UNIVERSE also features the GigaLynx™ digital camera that verifies, by reading barcodes or images, the correct sequence of the book that is being produced avoiding returns or out-of-collation-order claims.

Right after the installation, the book-sewer also helped Superior Bindery to produce conventionally-printed books thanks to the double feeding capability. In this capacity, it functions as a backup for a brand new asterPRO that was recently added to manage an increase in demand.

BUSINESS BENEFITS

  • Highly reliable binding (thread sewing)
  • Revenue increase (more productivity)
  • Versatility, flexibility and quality
  • Ease-of-use (Universe machine)
  • Proven reliability

BOOK AUTOMATION, INC.

Established in 1975, Book Automation Inc. is the first branch of the Meccanotecnica Group. From the New Milford office in Connecticut, the company directly follows and supports the US and Canadian market to guarantee maximum customer satisfaction.

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