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From the Listerver: OK to Switch to Saddle Stitch - 12/1/2009 -

Your colleagues discuss perfect bind versus saddle stitch.

Q. Is there still a perception that if you go from perfect bound to saddle stitch, there is something wrong with the publication? As we have less advertising pages, we are looking at the price savings of going to saddle stitch. From what I know, it's not that much of a savings. But what kind of message would we send to readers and advertisers with the switch? Or, does the switch not mean as much as it once did?

A. Excellent question. We still perfect bind mainly due to supplied inserts, etc. Switching back to saddle stitching is my ace in the hole for major budget cutting. I'm not sure if the method of binding is all that important any longer, but I could be wrong. I should mention that most of my competitors have switched to perfect binding—even with reduced pages.

Fred Haag, vice president of publications and communications, Group Practice Journal, American Medical Group Association (AMGA)

A. I find that having the journal information on the spine of the perfect-bound journal is essential. The occasional supplemental issue that we have saddle stitched is impossible to find on the shelf—you have to pull out every copy to find the right one!

Pam Day, managing editor, Aviation, Space, & Environmental Medicine, Aerospace Medical Association

A. There is still a perception (largely unconscious) that perfect-bound journals are somehow more "scholarly,” while saddle-stitched ones are more "commercial.”

Linda T. Hemphill, director of publications, Journal of Dental Research, International & American Associations for Dental Research

A. When I switched our journal from saddle to perfect, people flipped out (in a positive way). I wish impressing people was always that easy.

I would like to do the same with our magazine, but it doesn't have quite enough pages to make it work well (and not worth the extra cost).

James Baumann, director of communications & marketing,
Talking Stick, Association of College & University Housing Officers-International

A. This thread inspired me to look at the wall of journals we subscribe to; it would be very easy to find a particular issue because of their perfect bindings.

And then I realized that it has been years, literally, since I have sought an article in any of the print editions—choosing online for the search/satisfaction connection—even among the books we pay to receive in print. The perfect binding has the cache of being archival, but maybe that's now moot.

Pete Thomson, director of publications and The New Physician Editor, American Medical Student Association

A. About 10 years ago we decided to switch from perfect bound to saddle-stitched, primarily because we were having a hard time generating enough content to get to 64 pages and were tired of running so many house ads so we could perfect bind. That being said, when the subscribers and members received their first saddle-stitched edition in the mail, they were very mad and very vocal. Our members said it made their scholarly journal look like some cheap newsstand publication. In fact, I remember one person said it looked like the National Enquirer (not that there is anything wrong with the National Enquirer).

With the amount of negative feedback we received from that one issue, we decided to scrap the saddle-stitch and go back to perfect bind for all issues. Even to this day, we still have a hard time filling 64 pages and run way too many house ads. However, this battle is just not worth fighting because we will never win.

Steve Klein, associate director, advertising and print, Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology, Society of Nuclear Medicine

A. Sometimes it's best to ask the people who matter—the advertisers and/or readers.I would do a short survey (Survey Monkey or the like) and ask three to five brief questions with "Would it make a difference to you as an advertiser whether the publication is saddle-stitched or perfect bound” couched between two "throw-away” questions, as if it were part of a simple survey.

Marc Ingram, senior manager, advertising and exhibit sales, Common Ground Magazine, Community Associations Institute


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