Ask any manufacturer or reseller of spiral wire or plastic coil binding equipment about the advantages of their finishing equipment, and they’ll go for hours. The same is true for the perfect bound guys. That may be because we’re all a little weird that way, but each of us believes in our system.
On the one hand, the perfect bound folks want to talk about style and high-end finishing. It looks nice, it stacks well, and how many real books have you seen with a big wire running through its spine?
On the other hand, the spiral/coil binding people aren’t concerned with that. They understand that perfect binding is good for some things. They’ve even got real books in their house. But they’re more interested in things like cookbooks, technical manuals, reports, atlases and travel guides are ideal for spiral binding.
“Imagine trying to open a perfect-bound atlas and the one spot you need to find is buried inside the binding,” the spiral/coil guys will say. “Now, if you had a spiral or coil atlas, you can open the book all the way up without damaging the spine or losing anything in the binding process.”
Spiral and coil finishes allow you to lay a book flat, or open it 360 degrees. Let’s see you do that with a perfect bound book.
Plastic spiral binding is also the only method that can be done by hand. We actually sell machines that will punch the holes into your pages, insert the binding coils, and let you place the pages. Sure, you don’t want to do this when you have a few thousand books to do — you’re better off sending it to a professional bindery if you’ve got more than 500 to do. But it’s a nice piece of equipment to keep around the office if you’re just doing 1 – 10 books at a time every few days, or a short run of 250 books especially if you have to do individualized pages for client proposals, project specs, or even just updating and creating new versions of pages on a regular basis.
That’s because plastic spiral binding is also the only method (of two) that you can take apart, change pages, and put back together again. (We’ve got another hot glue method that we’ll discuss in a future post.)
While we like the look of perfect binding, and we believe it has some great uses, there are times that it just can’t beat the utility and ease of use of a spiral or coil bound book.