Apart from the schools, parents and students, it is several book-binders too who are waiting for textbooks of the new academic year to arrive. Many of them located close to schools or tucked inside street corners do brisk business weeks ahead of the school reopening. But, with the academic calendar of the CBSE and State Board schools beginning in different months, books binders say their business is spread out.
On Thursday, S. Saraswathy handed over a set of 14 textbooks to a binding store on Lloyds Road, after the school sent out a circular that all books should be “thread bound and covered with a transparent sheet.”
“I was surprised as the rule is new to me. Last year, I covered the books myself with brown sheet,” says the parent of a primary school student. She, however, has no qualms about spending a few hundreds more. “This way, I am assured the books are taken care of for a year. Last year, even as a few months were left for the academic year to close, I had to re-cover the books,” she adds.
Quite a number of schools such as Sishya and Bambino insist that books be bound to improve their shelf life, say book binders.
N. Shankar, in-charge of Senthil Lending Library, says parents come with different specifications depending on what the school has asked. A majority of schools insist on light-weight lamination and a few on thread binding, he adds.
G. Manoharan and his family members for decades have been doing all the binding work that the outlets of Easwari Lending Library get. “Across our eight libraries, we get over 1,000 students every year who want their books to be bound. As CBSE school started their academic year in April, we completed a chunk then,” says P. Saravanan, proprietor, Easwari Lending Library. He adds, round the year we would still keep getting books for binding, some for re-binding too.
However, many book binders say the business cannot be compared to what it was some years ago. The reasons are many: the practice of using the same set of book for a younger sibling is rare as a majority of schools insist that the entire set of textbooks and notebooks be bought from them. Quite a number of publishers print books that are to be used for one term alone.
Some parents are against binding books as they add to the weight. However, book binders such as G. Sampath Kumar and D. Palani in Royapettah say parents come with different requirement and depending on their budget the binders offer solutions. “Some parents want the traditional hard binding be done as they think the book will last longer, but I convince them to go for the single cover,” says Mr. Kumar. Cost of materials has also increased, some understand that well, says Mr. Palani, who has been in the business for over 40 years.
This year, a cost of binding a book ranges between Rs.20 and Rs.40.