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Here's what we do (not suggesting this is the only or the best solution; just saying what we do):
For presentations to outside groups (customer prospects, investment bankers, whoever), we do comb binding. We started with an inexpensive machine and beat it to death. Then we went to a $900-range machine (suggested retail) and we twisted arms until we got the price discounted by 50%. (Never underestimate the value of a good office manager!) We keep several sizes of combs in stock, as well as the cover styles we use.
For customer training, we were using comb binding, as well, until about a week ago. Our trainers were spending too much time just dealing with the mechanics of binding, however; so they decided they would rather go with ring binders. Their rationale was that they could print in larger quantities, rather than just prior to each class, because the ring binders would allow them to pick and choose the sections they wanted to include for each class. It would also enable updating as we release new versions of software. Rather than print a whole book at a time, they will now be printing each section as a separate job, which will process through the printer faster, as well.
For user documentation, we deliver only electronically. The principle form of documentation is online Help, with PDF manuals available as a backup. Installation manuals, release notes, and the like, are also delivered as PDFs on the installation CD, largely because it is our own customer service personnel who do the installation at the customer site.
Because the PDFs, if they are going to be printed at all, are going to be printed on our customers' office printers, the user manuals are laid out for letter-size paper.
Should we decide, in the future, to publish hardcopy manuals, the plan is that we would modify the template to a friendlier page size. As for binding style, that is not determined at this point. The bindery we work with on a regular basis can do perfect binding, but they do not have a lay-flat system. Therefore, we might decide on coil binding as a more user-friendly alternative.
So far, this combination of techniques seems to be keeping everyone happy.
I should add that having access to a small job bindery is a wonderful thing. The one we deal with went into business just a few years ago specifically to handle small jobs for local printers without their own bindery departments and to handle jobs that are printed in-house by local companies. I realize that in most locales it may be hard to find such a place, especially one with good, up-to-date equipment; but if you can find one, consider yourself lucky.
This outfit does all of our cutting, scoring, perfing, folding, stitching, etc., on a quick turnaround basis at reasonable prices (thirty-five dollar setup per job, plus machine time to run the job). This enables us to do some pretty sophisticated looking marketing collateral, including full bleeds, tear-off cards, gatefolds, etc., while controlling our costs by doing most of our color printing in house.
Steven Owens wrote:
>been thinking about getting the boss to buy a comb-binder or something
>similar. One website (swplastic.com) had several options - coil
>binding, thermal binding, etc. I'd prefer to avoid 3-ring binders or
>even comb-binding, if I had another option. Anybody have suggestions
>for a good price/performance tradeoff for in-office use?
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