The Courage to Take Entrepreneurial Risk

Trade Bookbinders 4bind Ltd in Stevenage, England, which is part of the 4books Group, optimized the production of both softcover and hardcover books with the commissioning of a Vareo perfect binder and an end sheet feeder from Muller Martini.

"For a seven-man operation such as ours, such a large investment, which equates to almost a year's turnover and which we see as a long-term investment, naturally involves a degree of entrepreneurial risk," say Nigel Wood and David Button, who founded 4bind eight years ago. "But an even bigger risk is not investing!"
Their successful business model proves that the two entrepreneurs are not only risk takers, but also have foresight. After all, they recognized the trend toward short runs in book production early on – and that is still their recipe for success today. However, 4bind, which concentrates on hard case binding does not focus on the book-of-1. "The ideal run for us is between 20 and 1000 copies per job," says Nigel Wood.
A positive carbon footprint
Thanks to innovations in digital printing, which accounts for 70 percent of 4bind's volume, this has been a growing market for years. "This is because publishers want to avoid storage costs, which is why they commission partial runs from us," points out David Button. "In doing so, they and we also ensure a positive carbon footprint – a not insignificant aspect at a time when green arguments are becoming increasingly important in our industry."
In addition to special interest titles such as legal, cooking or wildlife books, 4bind also produces for self-publishers. However, 4bind has no direct contact with these, but their works find their way to Stevenage via printers. The customers come from all over Great Britain – but mainly from Norfolk. One of the largest customers is the graphic arts company 4edge Ltd in Hockley, owned by David Button, one of the UK's leading independent short-run producers.
50 percent higher productivity
However, according to the two company owners, all the advances in digital printing will come to nothing if developments in finishing do not keep pace. 4bind therefore relies on a Vareo perfect binder and a VBA end sheet feeder from Muller Martini for the production of softcover and hardcover books – with the latter making up the vast majority at 95 percent.
"Previously, hardcover production required several steps of manual intervention," says Nigel Wood. "The quality was okay, but the manufacturing process was time-consuming and therefore costly. Now, on the one hand, we can produce inline, have increased our productivity by 50 percent compared to the previous solution thanks to the optimized workflow, and are much more competitive in terms of pricing. Secondly, we can also – which is a hallmark of our small but mighty company – respond much more flexibly, which is hugely important given the many formats of books we produce. For one thing, we have been able to bring back some of the orders that we used to outsource. So the Vareo meets our expectations in every respect!"
Image caption
From left: David Button (Managing Director 4bind Ltd), Nigel Wood (Production Director 4bind Ltd) and David McGinlay (Sales Manager Muller Martini Great Britain) in front of the Vareo perfect binder at 4bind in Stevenage.