A vote against perfect binding

Subject: A vote against perfect binding
From: Jean Weber <jean_weber -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 21:43:17 -0500

As an infrequent user of many programs, I often need to work with the
manual open to help me. I absolutely HATE anything that won't open out flat
and stay that way. (I use a slantboard to prop up manuals and/or the
project I'm working on.) If a book flips shut on me (as most bound books
do), it's a major nuisance. I usually resort to breaking the spine, which
has the very undesirable side-effect of causing pages to fall out and get
lost.

I've not terribly keen on ring-binders (they are usually too big and
heavy), but any of the variations of spiral-bound or comb-bound makes me
very happy. True, labelling the non-spines so I can find them on the shelf
is a pest (nearly impossible), but I consider that a small inconvenience
that is far outweighed by the usability of the manual.

BTW, I have several clients whose main users are office workers, who don't
like thick manuals in either ring-binder or bound version. They feel
comfortable with thinner, spiral-bound manuals, and the software tends to
be in "modules," so I encourage the client to produce a series of thin
books, which can be hold-punched for storage in a ring binder if someone
wants to (and so the office manager or resident techie -- if there is one
-- can have a complete set readily available). Having several thin,
spiral-bound books may not look as "professional" to some, but it
dramatically improves the chances that people actually use them! And a
person may only need one or two of them in their work.

All of the above has nothing to do with ease of maintenance by the writers,
which is not a big issue with the software projects I work on. However, if
a big project is broken into smaller books, it also allows the writer to
re-issue one of the books without affecting the others (assuming you don't
have page-specific cross references in the others).

Jean Weber
Technical Writer, Editor and Publishing Consultant
Sydney, Australia
jean_weber -at- compuserve -dot- com

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