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Field Guides - quality of bindings

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Old Friday 13th August 2004, 23:13   #1
Dave B Smith
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Field Guides - quality of bindings

Do Hardback guides withstand wear and tear much better than paperbacks?

Am I just to rough on my Field Guides? Do I rely on them too often?
I've had two paperback Field Guides that have literally fallen apart. Both were published by reputable publishing houses.

I'm getting ready to buy another Field Guide for an upcoming trip and would be interested in any comments especially in reference to the Hardback / Paperback question.
Thanks,
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 08:08   #2
Elizabeth Bigg
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We bought a new (paperback) Collins Guide recently. The cover is getting a bit tatty already, and we wish we had bought the hardback.
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 11:25   #3
harry eales
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Bigg
We bought a new (paperback) Collins Guide recently. The cover is getting a bit tatty already, and we wish we had bought the hardback.
The binding of books has been a source of considerable comment over the past few years. Many identification guides gave been offered in both 'hard bound' and 'soft bound' issues. The price differential is often the deciding factor as to which version a person buys. This differential is often quite considerable with hard bound books often costing almost double the price of the softbound versions. The question immediately arises is, 'Is it worth paying twice the price'. The answer I suspect is, 'It depends on how much you use it'. The more it is used, the more it is likely it is to become worn. If you carry a pocket sized guide around when out Birding, Butterflying or Mothing it isn't going to last very long. Even at home regular use of a soft bound book will reduce it's usable like considerably.

I have a soft bound copy of Waring and Townsends Field Guide to The Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. After having had it for only a year it is showing distinct signs of coming apart, yet it never leaves by desk. Unfortunately this book is only available in a soft bound form.

The price of any book depends on several factors and all these have to be considered by the publishers. e.g. How many are likely to be bought. What is the cost of production, i.e. the materials, the setting up, the graphics, the type of binding, advertising etc.

If there is likely to be only a small demand, then the production run will be small and the retail price will of necessity, be high, in order to cover all the production expenses and a profit for the publisher.

Printing these days is totally unlike that of half a century or more ago. Most of the set up and layout is done electronically and the printing, stitching and binding is mostly automated, with very little or no hand work involved at all.

Short cuts are also used in the production of some hard back books as they are made in a very similar manner to soft back books, in that the pages are glued together along the inner edges (spine) and this is concealed from view with a headband making the type of binding almost undetectable until the book falls apart.

Proper bookbinders are a rare species these days, a few exist but unless the book you want to rebind is a valuable item, it isn't worth having rebound as the cost is prohibitive. Back in the 1960's a book could be rebound properly using hand techniques for about 10. Today it would likely run into three figures.

I have several dozen entomological books dating from the early to mid 1800's bound in the old fashioned way. They are probably as 'tight' in their binding as they were when they were printed. No, they're not for sale. lol.

Going back to the original question of what to buy. Well you pay your money and take your chances. Personally, I would prefer 'hard bound' every time, but even a hardbound book will not stand up to the wear and tear of being carried around outside, or being humped around in your rucksack, if you want to identify something 'on the spot'.

For those of you who think they will make a fortune writing a book, forget it if it is an identification guide or more scientific tome. A friend of mine has had five good sellers printed on insects, and has yet to see a penny.

Harry

Last edited by harry eales : Saturday 14th August 2004 at 11:29.
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 11:35   #4
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Well at least ours is stitched, so it should stay together even if it becomes scruffy looking!
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 11:44   #5
tom mckinney
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I have hardback Collins, and other than looking a mess it is "structurally" sound. I don't think a paperback one would last all that long in the "field."
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 12:02   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry eales
Short cuts are also used in the production of some hard back books as they are made in a very similar manner to soft back books, in that the pages are glued together along the inner edges (spine) and this is concealed from view with a headband making the type of binding almost undetectable until the book falls apart.
This has to be the worst sort. Usually they seem to use a glue which dries and cracks so that, one day, you open the books and a shower of loose pages floats to the floor.

It doesn't seem to be an issue as far as birding books are concerned, but elsewhere it's quite common for paperback editions to be printed on cheaper, rougher paper that browns and becomes brittle in no time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by harry eales
Proper bookbinders are a rare species these days, a few exist but unless the book you want to rebind is a valuable item, it isn't worth having rebound as the cost is prohibitive. Back in the 1960's a book could be rebound properly using hand techniques for about 10. Today it would likely run into three figures.
That much? Admittedly I've never had to have a printed book rebound, but wouldn't it depend on the type/quality of binding you want? I've had occasion to use a local chap who binds theses and suchlike in buckram and he's bound books of approx B4-sized loose-leaf pages for me at 30 a piece. Just library-type bindings with gold tooling, but very nicely done.
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 21:02   #7
harry eales
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
That much? Admittedly I've never had to have a printed book rebound, but wouldn't it depend on the type/quality of binding you want? I've had occasion to use a local chap who binds theses and suchlike in buckram and he's bound books of approx B4-sized loose-leaf pages for me at 30 a piece. Just library-type bindings with gold tooling, but very nicely done.
It's possible your chap does it for a hobby Jason, whatever, treat him like a treasure, people like him are like gold dust. Errrmm. You couldn't Email me his address could you?

Regards,

Harry
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 21:16   #8
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I use the plastic covers that you would find in the local library,saves them getting dog eared and smudged,cost .25p each. worth a try..
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 21:24   #9
Elizabeth Bigg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elgin5050.fsnet
I use the plastic covers that you would find in the local library,saves them getting dog eared and smudged,cost .25p each. worth a try..
Thanks - I'll try this.
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Old Saturday 14th August 2004, 21:54   #10
Bluetail
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry eales
It's possible your chap does it for a hobby Jason
Nope, it's his living.


Quote:
Originally Posted by harry eales
Errrmm. You couldn't Email me his address could you?
Done!
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Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
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Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

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