For one of the last book binderies on the East Coast, the hardest thing is finding the right customer.
“There isn’t a soul who doesn’t walk in here who doesn’t say, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been looking for you,'” said Sandi Craig, production supervisor at Allen L. Geiser and Son, a book bindery located on the border of Kensington and Port Richmond inside The Loom, a former textile mill turned manufacturing coworking space.
It’s nothing like the old days – when word of mouth was the name of the game – Craig said, but she said she’s definitely seen an uptick in customers. The company still has to work on its online marketing strategy, said Craig, who’s been at the family business since the beginning.
Founded in 1979 by Craig’s brother and father, Geiser and Son has felt the hit caused by the shift to online publishing. About six years ago, the company employed roughly 20 people, including management. Now it employs seven.
Geiser and Son, one of the last remaining book binderies on the East Coast (Craig said there’s one in North Carolina, another in Connecticut), does all kinds of jobs — big or small. It bound Le Bec Fin‘s menus, does hardcover binding for archived versions of local papers like the Philadelphia City Paper and the South Philly Review and creates custom annual reports for business like Urban Outfitters, Craig said. Geiser and Son also does specialized, one-off work, like restoring Bibles or creating album covers for photographers.
Despite the dismal climate for publishing, Craig still believes there’s a need for this kind of specialty work. She said she just needs to get the Geiser and Son name out there, get the right eyes on it, and it helps that she’s so embracing of technology — even when it comes to a Kindle.
Craig said she “broke down” and bought one a few months ago. She doesn’t enjoy it as much as physical books though. And then there was this: “I couldn’t tell my brother for four months,” she said. “He would have had a stroke.”
All photos by Aidan Un.-30-
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