With the shift to on-line studying in 2020, most college students in India could have began the brand new educational yr with out one in all their hottest rituals — a visit to the e-book binder.

Meant to guard textbooks not simply from the weather but additionally from tough dealing with by its customers, hardcover binding has been a staple of faculty life. However in a commerce taken over by mechanisation, e-book binders have needed to adapt to new market necessities by updating their technique of working. “The brand new educational yr in faculties and schools is maybe the one actually worthwhile time for e-book binders lately,” says Subhash Chandran, whose Sree Meenakshi Printers in Kelambakkam, Chennai, affords trendy and cheaper choices like spiral and excellent binding together with the normal hardcover selection, largely to highschool and faculty college students.

Handbook binding of administrative data was the norm in sectors corresponding to banking, insurance coverage, vehicles, judiciary and so forth earlier than digital archiving led to large-scale ‘paperless’ workplace methods from the late 1990s.

“Within the early 2000s, I used to bind 30-40 books per workplace, particularly in banks, the place accounts could be maintained for as much as seven years for auditing. Automotive corporations would bind vehicle manuals for staff in massive numbers. One may simply earn ₹4,000 in a day,” says M Kumaravel, a Chennai-based e-book binder.

1x1_spacer Cowl story: Guide binding within the age of on-line schooling and publishing

A binder prepares the protecting covers for a e-book at printing press in Tiruchi.
| Photograph Credit score: B. Velankanni Raj


Issues have modified now, as a result of no person takes printouts and waits for them to be certain into volumes. “Every thing has gone on-line, or on CDs. The price of a readymade field file is the same as e-book binding costs now, so our enterprise has shrunk drastically,” he provides.

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An extended historical past

Guide binding is believed to have been first documented in 100 BC in India, when spiritual verses have been inscribed on seasoned palm leaves, numbered and tied along with twine in an accordion model. Covers fabricated from wooden or metallic protected the delicate leaf inscriptions inside.

The Mughals launched inventive leather-based binding to India by using grasp binders from Persia, who excelled in creating ornate e-book covers with particular stitching methods. Binders have been an essential a part of library employees in the course of the Mughal period.

Tooled leather-based binding with gold foil lettering was widespread in India till cardboard, chart paper and artificial choices introduced down the costs additional within the 1970s and ’80s. The heritage artwork is the mainstay of companies just like the Vintage Leather-based Craft retailer in Delhi’s Daryaganj space for over three a long time.

1x1_spacer Cowl story: Guide binding within the age of on-line schooling and publishing

Staff in a guide e-book binding store in Chawri Bazaar, Outdated Delhi. Photograph: Monica Tiwari/THE HINDU
| Photograph Credit score: Monica Tiwari

“Our prospects usually need to protect their books inside leather-based covers, each for his or her magnificence and sturdiness,” says proprietor Aslam Agha, who heads the family-run enterprise.

“Leather-based binding is a laborious course of. Relying on the scale of the e-book and the workmanship concerned, it could take us from every week to a number of months to finish one order,” says Agha, who additionally restores outdated books.

Rule of the machines

With handwriting itself turning into a uncommon talent lately, stationery binding has understandably misplaced floor to digital technique of communication. Nonetheless the automated mass manufacturing of books has thrived, with indigenously produced binding gear additionally rising as an essential income earner for the nation.

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India exported book-binding and -sewing equipment price $13 million in 2019 to African and European nations, in response to United Nations Commodity Commerce Statistics Database (UN Comtrade).

Nowhere is the growth extra apparent than in Sivakasi, a small city in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district. Although it’s typically within the information for its fireworks and security matches business, Sivakasi can also be thought-about a hub of mass publishing.

With a market reportedly price ₹1,000 crores, Sivakasi has over 600 printing and ancillary industries that make use of over 20,000 people. Massive print orders led to mechanisation of guide processes like binding for the reason that 1980s right here.


“Whereas paperwork generated by establishments like faculties, schools, banks and Authorities workplaces nonetheless require guide binding, automation of this course of has modified industrial printing in a giant means,” says V Ganesh Kumar, president of Sivakasi Grasp Printers Affiliation and director, SFA Print.

As binding machines within the classic of 1980s as much as 2018 are being utilized in Sivakasi, studying how you can use them has largely been a hands-on expertise, says Kumar. “We practice diploma and technical institute college students to make use of all of the totally different machines which can be utilized in our bindery, in order that they are often comfy with any degree of know-how in different items as properly. We wish them to be expert in order that they will survive as freelance operators on their very own,” he says.

SFA Print lately launched a high-speed binding machine that may produce as much as 40,000 copies per day. “In comparison with this, one can bind solely round 2,000 copies by hand, and that too, of uneven high quality,” he says.

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Whether or not certain by hand or machines, the printed e-book has its personal enchantment, says Kumar. “We proceed to print copies of The Bible, Bhagvad Gita and Koran in massive numbers, as a result of readers nonetheless need to purchase them. The distinctive expertise of holding and studying a e-book can’t be replicated by digital gadgets,” he says.