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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Book Printing: Short-Run Perfect Binding Equipment

I just saw a video of the new Muller Martini Mitabook, a short-run digital perfect binding machine. I personally think it’s the wave of the future. I think it also says a lot about what we want in our print books at this juncture of publishing.

First the Specs of the Muller Martini Mitabook

To reference Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Mitabook is not for ultra-short, hand-bound binding runs or semi-automatic short binding runs. Nor is it for long runs in the thousands or multiple thousands of case-bound books. Rather it is squarely aimed at the “in-between runs.” That makes the Mitabook ideal for yearbooks, photobooks, books for young readers, and for some adult books as well. The Mitabook provides the perfect solution for this particular niche market.

Muller Martini will showcase this technology at Dscoop, which the Muller Martini promotional literature describes as “an influential cooperative of HP graphic arts professionals.” The event will be held from March 5 through March 7 in Washington, DC.

Here are some specifics:

    1. The Mitabook can process seven books a minute. That works out to 350 to 400 books per hour,


    1. The Muller Martini Mitabook uses hot-melt, PUR glue, which hardens instantly. The glue transport system does not need cleaning and does not clog if the machine must sit idle.


    1. The Mitabook does not require hanging the book block and cover on a wing (a little like a saddle for a saddle-stitcher). Therefore, the Mitabook avoids the scratch marks on interior images that can occur during case binding.


    1. The Mitabook system will match barcodes on the print book text blocks with barcodes on the covers. If these do not match, the machine will not bind the book. This significantly reduces waste.


    1. The Mitabook does all the traditional casing-in tasks, including making the crimped joint between the cover boards and the spine.


    1. The Mitabook has a very small footprint. Not only does this help in placing the machine on the pressroom floor, but it also means that only one operator is needed to feed the covers and text blocks into the machine and remove and check the completed print books.


    1. A touch screen console makes set-up quick and easy. It also makes size changes for multiple book formats a quick operation.


  1. Muller Martini has also developed a companion product called the Mitacase, which is good for short-run case-making.

How The Mitabook Looks When Up and Running

Here’s the URL for a video on the Muller Martini Mitabook: I would encourage you to copy the URL into your browser and watch the short video, which shows how small the Mitabook really is, how quickly it operates for such a short-run case binder, and how flawlessly it runs with only minimal operator attention. It’s quite revolutionary.

When I saw the video on the Muller Martini Mitabook, its operation seemed smooth, easy, and accurate, with little or no waste. All of the books produced during the video (i.e., after set-up) looked perfect, with the case boards and spines aligned precisely with the text blocks. And changeovers for alternate sized case-bound products appeared to occur in seconds, with the operator using minimal touch screen commands.

What This Development Says About Print Book Publishing

    1. First of all, throughout my years in commercial printing, I have always seen OEMs quickly develop equipment to meet consumer demand. Clearly, there are a lot of people out there who need more than a few hand-case-bound books (or semi-automatic case-bound books), but who don’t need thousands of copies.


    1. Self-published authors who opt for physical print books rather than e-books fit this category, as do children’s book publishers.


    1. Paired with digital printing technology that can individually personalize each text block, this kind of short-run case-binding is ideal. It is a big step above a perfect-bound book, and the product will last for multiple decades. Short-run case-binding also reflects the growing desire for mass customization. People want books that are personal, unique, and durable.


  1. The existence of the Mitabook points to the value placed on photobooks: for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the like. People are not satisfied with digital-only photos viewed on their smartphones and tablets. They want a personal way to record life-changing events and rites of passage for future generations to see, but they also want an attractive, physical product to showcase these images.

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