A Tour of My Local Book Manufacturer

CourierLast week, I was given a real treat. I got to tour the factory for the book manufacturer that prints many of the titles I edit for my day job. (For those of you chuckling, yes, I considered this a treat. What can I say?) It just so happens that I got to do this just down the road at Courier, in my very own town of Westford.

I couldn’t possibly do justice to everything that goes on in the plant (and I’d probably end up boring most readers to tears if I did), but they produced 140 million books last year, which is impressive by just about any standard you use.

People who know me or follow this blog know that I dabble in hand bookbinding, so it’s always neat to see how the big guys mass produce them (this is the second printing factory I’ve toured). For example, here’s how I prepare a hard cover (left) and how they do it (right):

Gluing Back Cover Board Book Covers

Here’s what my collected signatures look like (left) next to theirs (right):

Marking All Signatures for Holes Signatures

How mine are sewn (left) and how theirs stack up (right):

book2 Sewn Book Blocks

All very humbling, of course, though my process is a little more loving and a whole lot quieter (and my output about 140 million times smaller).

Last year, Courier was named “Best Workplace in the Americas” by the Printing Industry of America (PIA), and all signs indicate that the are indeed a great place to work. It’s great to find such a great and interesting company in your own back yard, and even more interesting when it’s a company with direct involvement with your own business.