On Demand is an exhibitor’s showcase for digital press and finishing equipment manufacturers, dealers, software and systems developers, consumable suppliers, consulting services, trade publishers, and...commercial binderies. Yes, that’s right: providers of binding and finishing services regularly take booth space at On Demand, and for a host of good reasons.

The show is a bustling crossroads for connecting with owners and prospective buyers of digital printing systems—people who, sooner or later, may be asking themselves whether using an outside bindery mightn’t be the best way to take care of the postpress for their book work. When local customers of the exhibiting binders drop by, the opportunity to acquaint these clients with new services is golden. And, when time permits, bindery personnel can venture into the aisles to do a little tire-kicking of their own: after all, this year’s edition of On Demand features more than 30 exhibitors in the bindery, feeding, and finishing services and equipment category.

We spoke with representatives of four commercial binderies with a presence at On Demand to find out what justifies the time, expense, and effort of exhibiting at a show that, as an exposition venue, is much more oriented to equipment vendors than to the end-users of that equipment. Here’s what they had to say.

Jonathan D. Jacobsen and Craig J. Siano, Bridgeport National Bindery Inc.

Jonathan D. Jacobsen, business development manager, and Craig J. Siano, sales and account manager, print on demand, were among those greeting showgoers on behalf of their employer, Bridgeport National Bindery Inc., Agawam, MA. The company is a printer as well as a binder of hardcover and paperback books. Book content can be stored on Bridgeport’s servers or downloaded from clients’ sites for quick-turnaround manufacturing on demand in very small quantities. A separate short-run program fulfills orders of 25 books or more. Bridgeport can provide both black-and-white and color text printing in hardcover formats with laminated covers, cloth, foil, and dust jackets. Cover lamination also is available for paperbacks.

Jacobsen said that Bridgeport has been exhibiting at On Demand ever since the event was first presented 11 years ago. He noted that although there were no other trade binders at the earliest shows, the event has grown in popularity among postpress providers because of the many customer-facing opportunities it affords.

This year, Bridgeport used the occasion to promote its short-run printing services as well as its bindery portfolio to printers, publishers, representatives of online businesses, and other prospects attending the show. No orders are written at On Demand, said Jacobsen, the better to concentrate on networking and contact-building. He added that Bridgeport also used the opportunity to speak with several vendors of print engines.

Pete Merill-Oldham, Acme Bookbinding

Acme Bookbinding of Charlestown, MA, represented at On Demand by Pete Merill-Oldham, director of marketing and sales, traces its history to 1821. Today it operates a 100,000-sq.-ft. plant that offers edition, library, and on-demand binding services to a broad range of customers including publishers, printers, book designers, museums, academic institutions, corporations, and libraries. On-demand capabilities include short-run production on an integrated, computer-controlled adhesive binding system that produces hardcover books of exceptional strength and flexibility.

Merill-Oldham said that Acme has been an On Demand exhibitor for the last eight years, following the show as it has moved from Philadelphia to New York and Boston. (The event returns to Philadelphia next year.) He noted that the visitor traffic includes publishers, printers, self-publishers, and others of interest to Acme as it builds its business in short-run digital printing as well as bindery services. Digital printing is, according to Merill-Oldham, the fastest-growing segment of Acme’s business. He added that the company does some one-off and very-small-quantity bindery work, but that most runs are in the 50- to 500-unit range.

Jim Heckman and Jim Bischoff, The HF Group

Jim Heckman, vice president, and Jim Bischoff, corporate sales representative, were on hand for The HF Group, a national chain of specialty binding facilities with plants in seven states. These installations offer a broad range of services including short-run edition binding, textbook rebinding, paperback conversion, library binding, and on-demand printing and binding. Heckman said the company first exhibited at On Demand four years ago and was back again in hope of attracting printers, publishers, and others interested in the short-run case binding services in which it specializes.

He said that the company also found On Demand a good venue for promoting its digital print-on-demand capabilities, which include producing text and covers in batches of 1 to 1,000 from print-ready PDFs. According to Heckman, one-off work is par for the course for a library binder like the HF Group, which regularly binds and rebinds books for university collections on a one-at-a-time basis.

Paul Arsenault, NABS Full Service Bindery

Paul Arsenault, co-owner of NABS Full Service Bindery, Waltham, MA, had a busy show as he greeted numerous customers from the Boston area. This was the second On Demand for NABS, which has been doing business as a provider of binding and finishing services for clients from New England to New York City for more than 15 years. The service portfolio includes UV coating, perfect binding, plastic coil, Wire-o, GBC, perforating, scoring, folding, drilling, shrink wrapping, round cornering, wafer sealing, and lamination.

Under the motto, “Let Us Finish What You’ve Started,” Arsenault operates what he characterized as a strictly on-demand business in whatever production quantities his customers require. He said that his most popular service offerings were perfect binding, plastic coil, and lamination, and he expressed high hopes for his latest addition: UV coating, a process he installed four months ago. Arsenault said that he is now using his offline UV unit to coat “everything,” fulfilling expectations raised about UV at On Demand last year. “That was the buzz,” he said, “and that’s why we bought it.”

Please offer your feedback to Patrick. He can be reached at [email protected].