Yesterday marked a small but significant occasion as I put my comb binder into semi-retirement. I say semi retirement as it will be my back up system from now on. Roughly ten years ago I stumbled upon an industrial comb binder at a tag sale in New Cannan, CT (town next to where my parents lived). In addition to all the regular junk, they guy was selling a couple of pieces of old office equipment including this fancy industrial binder from GBC. He said it was a $5000 piece of equipment and should run forever. This was back before Staples sold $150 manual binders (that definitely didn’t last forever). At the time, every composer I knew ran off to Kinkos and paid $2 per score for comb binding ($4 for larger scores). Kinkos screwed it up more than half the time and 80% of the time if the score was bigger than 8.5x11.
So this guy offered to sell me this electric powered binder for $500. I jumped on the opportunity and moved the 80 lb. monster into my mother’s car and never paid Kinkos to bind my scores again. From that day forward binding cost me $.20 for the plastic comb and I could bind any time I wanted. Probably it paid for itself within the first three years and now that 10 years have passed, I would guess it has saved me a few thousand and certainly many hours getting to Kinkos and watching them screw up my scores.
Sadly, the comb binding system is becoming obsolete. Coil binding is in. Its slicker, doesn’t get crushed so easily, and makes a lot less noise when turning pages. All the new kids are using coil binding these days. So it was time to upgrade but where would I find a tag sale that would sell me a $5000 unit for $500. This minor miracle would not happen again, but I did buy a great unit at a discount from my old teacher Jennifer Higdon. She upgraded to coil binding 8 months ago (Jennifer is always on the cutting edge when it comes to self publishing). Her business is so booming that in retrospect she wishes she sprang for the super fancy model. We made a deal, they shipped me their slightly used binder, and yesterday I was binding scores with my new coil binder for the first time. It definitely is sexy compared to the old fashioned comb binder.