A print finisher carries out the last part of the printing process, trimming the pages and binding them into hardback or paperback books, journals or brochures. A few craft bookbinders bind and decorate books by hand. The work is also referred to as post-press.
You could be:
setting up the mechanical guillotines to cut the printed pages, hundreds at a time
setting up various other machines, loading the printed pages and adjusting the controls
watching the machines as they fold, trim, collate, perhaps laminate the pages and bind them with staples, stitching or glue
stopping the machine if a problem arises, and either dealing with the problem or getting help
unloading and stacking the books ready for distribution
cleaning the machines and doing minor maintenance.
As a specialist craft bookbinder you could be:
binding certain limited editions of books by hand using specialist tools and sewing pages together
decorating books with marbled endpapers, gold lettering or edging
restoring antique books, cleaning the pages, repairing the binding and using fine leather and papers to match the originals.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual salaries may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for and whether you are self-employed
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries might be around £17,000 a year. Skilled print finishers can earn £20,000 to £25,000 a year. A self-employed bookbinder working from home might charge from £20 to £60 for book repairs and binding. For restoration this could be a lot more, depending on the value of the book and the amount of damage.
You will probably work in a factory.
The factory will be noisy and might be dusty although there should be ventilation. You may have to wear a mask and ear protectors.
You may need to lift and carry items.
You might work shifts, including evenings and weekends.
If you are a craft bookbinder you might work in a factory, workshop, library, museum, or from home.
A good general education is useful. Many employers look for English, Maths and a science or technological subject at National 4 or 5.
You may be able to get in by doing a Modern Apprenticeship in Print Industry Occupations. You normally train on the job and work towards SVQs at Levels 5 and 6.
What Does it Take?
You should be:
good with your hands
aware of health and safety issues
able to work with machinery
good at measuring and counting
precise, with excellent attention to detail.
If you are a craft bookbinder you should be:
good at communicating with customers
knowledgeable about and interested in books.
Training is mainly on the job.
You can work towards SVQ Post Press at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.
You could work for a printing company, or for a company specialising in print finishing. There are opportunities later to become a supervisor, or move into print administration or operations production management. You might even become self-employed.
If you work in a small company you may have to move to get promotion. Some bookbinders move into teaching the trade at college.