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Jobs Outlook: Bookbinders and Bindery Workers




Overall employment of bookbinders and bindery workers is expected to decline through 2012 as demand for printed material slows and productivity in bindery operations increases. Contributing to this situation is the trend toward outsourcing of work to firms in foreign countries, where books and other materials with long leadtimes can be produced more cheaply. Most job openings, however, will result from the need to replace experienced workers who leave the occupation, many of whom will be retiring in the next decade.

Computers have caused binding to become increasingly automated. New computer-operated “in-line” equipment performs a number of operations in sequence, beginning with raw stock and ending with a finished product. Technological advances such as automatic tabbers, counters, palletizers, and joggers reduce labor and improve the appearance of the finished product. These improvements are inducing printing companies to acquire in-house binding and finishing equipment that allows printing machine operators to perform bindery work during “downtimes.”

Growth in demand for specialized bindery workers who assist skilled bookbinders will be slowed as binding machinery continues to become more efficient. New technology requires a considerable investment in capital expenditures and employee training, so computer skills and mechanical aptitude are increasingly important for bindery workers.

Because the number of establishments that do hand bookbinding is small, opportunities for hand bookbinders will be limited. Experienced workers will continue to have the best opportunities for these specialist jobs.