Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lesson 2: Where's my Gutter?

In the publishing world, gutters are really important. If you're a photographer who offers albums, you should have some baseline understanding of gutters - what they are and why they exists - because it will impact what type of album you chose and how your photographs are presented.

So, what is a gutter? When you open a book, the center of the book where the pages come together is called the gutter. More often than not, the center of the book curves inward. Many things, such as pencil, would roll toward the center of the book - just like rain rolling towards a gutter.

Why is there a gutter?
Gutters exist (or not) as a direct result of how a book is bound. There are many methods of binding a book and each method creates a different type of gutter. More importantly - different binding processes have different costs - which is then passed to you! Generally speaking, it is easier to bind a book with very visible gutters rather than books that have non-visible gutters. Here are a few examples of binding that creates different types of gutters:

This is a Japanese Stitch Bound book. It is one of the easiest types of binding which many artists use. It also creates a deep gutter. For albums, it creates a great, classic feel but you will only be able to place a few photos per page. Photos will also be printed, then placed on a page. Cypress makes albums in this style which are beautiful and very traditional.

This a standard stitch binding or called oversewing. It is the most common for hardback books because it can bind many pages together at one time. Pages bound in this type of style must also be relatively thin. Most album makers don't use this type of binding but I believe some of the Couture Books do use this style of binding. (They also require 100 pages per book.)

This is a board book - often used for books for young children. These books tend to be more durable because of the thickness of the pages and do not have visible gutters. However, there is a limit to the number of pages that can be bound in this method. Most album makers use a modified version of this binding process in order to deliver a book that lays flat.

So regardless of which album maker you choose, it is important keep your mind in the gutter! It will impact the type of album you give your bride.

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