Re: 3 ring binders or no?

Subject: Re: 3 ring binders or no?
From: Faith Weber <weber -at- EASI -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 10:01:52 PDT

Paul Race wrote:

>One interesting side effect of the binder versus perfect-bound (paperback
>style) books is that after getting information from us in binders for years,
>many of our customers surveyed told us that they thought perfect-bound
>documentation "seemed" more professional. The irony is that it is much
>cheaper - so much cheaper that for a document we used to completely update
>once a year and send change pages every qarter, we discovered that it was
>cheaper to send out four new perfect-bound editions every year. Of course

Beware -- it's not true that perfect binding would be cheaper for
*everybody*. It depends on the size of the print run, and whether the
printer you work with has their equipment set up for the size run
you want to do.

Also, Paul said that a large part of the cost of the 3-ring printing
was the tabs. Using standardized tabs (e.g. numbered or lettered) or
printing tabs separately in larger runs can reduce the cost. Or you
can use bleeds in the 3-ring document (though I'm sure they're not
as effective in a binder as in a perfect-bound document).

I think the best argument for avoiding 3-ring binding is the fact that
people almost never put in the update pages, even if they say they
want them. (I also question whether they'll look at the updates
immediately, in whatever format. Can you send groups of updates
at once rather than lots of individual updates?)

Here's another one: have you ever dropped a 3-ring binder? If you
drop it just right, so it hits on one corner, the rings open. When
those suckers let go, it's like an explosion -- paper everywhere!
Heaven help the person who has to put it back together.

Maybe distributing information electronically would work well for
this situation. Then users could print just the updated pages (if
they were identified as such) or the whole updated manual, and bind
it any way they want. It sounds like the users really just want to
have the most current information, and from their limited knowledge
about document distribution, 3-ring binders and update pages seem
like the only alternative. You may be able to come off as a hero
by looking at the *underlying* message and offering alternatives.

Faith Weber
EA Systems Inc.
weber -at- easi -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com

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