BMI History

Since 1933 the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI) has provided tremendous value to its member companies and others associated with the book manufacturing industry over the years. BMI member companies range from full service book manufacturers to those specializing in the digital print market, specialty binderies, component printers, packagers, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers of a variety of materials and services.

BMI’s early roots are connected to the “Employing Bookbinders of America” which started out in the early 1900’s as a group of employing bookbinders in the City of New York.

In the Spring of 1920, five prominent members, at their own expense, visited the cities of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. During their travels they conferred with local bookbinders about forming a national organization. The idea was not initially embraced by those with whom they spoke, but their inspiring story about the success of the Employing Book Binders of the City of New York soon garnered interest. As a result, companies in these respective cities formed local organizations and pledged to assist in every way possible with the formation of a national association of bookbinders.

The services of Judge Alfred E. Ommen, general counsel for the Employing Book Binders Association of New York, were enlisted to organize a campaign targeting bookbinders throughout the United States and Canada, the result of which was the first national convention held in St. Louis in September 1922.

By 1933, the movement had grown to include members representing all phases of the printing industry from all parts of the country. A code of fair competition was adopted. In addition, publishers encouraged the book manufacturers to organize the national association so that standard procedures could be developed resulting in common business practices. Given this level of interest and support, the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI) became incorporated on August 7, 1933.

Since 1933, BMI has been the nationally recognized trade association representing the book manufacturing industry. BMI member companies annually produce the majority of books ordered by the U.S. book publishing industry. Today, BMI is a vital part of the industry, playing a leading role in providing an intra-industry communications link among book manufacturers, publishers, suppliers and governmental bodies. A number of programs and activities related to the interdependent needs of these groups has been developed by BMI.

Through the years, BMI has worked effectively with publishers and established a valuable rapport with the Association of American Publishers (AAP).  Through the collaborative efforts of BMI’s Government Relations  & Postal Committee, with their AAP counterparts, the positions of both industries have been effectively presented to various governmental and legislative bodies.  One example of this is the Manufacturing Standards & Specifications for Textbooks (MSST) which was developed through the cooperative efforts of BMI, AAP and the State Instructional Materials Review Association (SIMRA, formerly NASTA).  These standards are recognized nationally and serve as a model of intra-industry achievement.

In 1995, BMI instituted a seminar on the usage of the MSST.  This seminar was created for those interested in the manufacture of elementary and high school textbooks and ancillary materials.  The seminar is presented at both publishing and manufacturing companies and industry association meetings.

In 1998, BMI established a Special Projects Committee to identify, study, and recommend funding for those projects or organizations within our member companies’ communities that promote literacy, reading, education or other book related programs which deserve financial and membership support. Each year, BMI provides grants to the selected projects or organizations.

In 2008, BMI joined a coalition of industry associations to address issues related to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. BMI, AAP, Printing Industries of America (PIA), and other industry associations worked together with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that the law was understood and enforced in an effective and practical manner.

In 2014, BMI merged with Hardcover Binders International/Library Binding Institute (HBI/LBI), an association that was originally born out of BMI, in 1935, in response to the unique needs of those who specialized in binding and rebinding library books. The original name of the association was the Library Binding Institute (LBI).

LBI, in concert with libraries and librarians, established standards for the prebinding and binding of books and magazines used in libraries. In addition, LBI developed a certification process that binders were required to meet in order to become an LBI member and refer to themselves as a Certified Library Binder. This designation recognized by libraries signifies that the binder’s work meets these standards thus ensuring longevity and durability.

In early 2000, LBI began a reassessment of the organization, in recognition of the fact that the product/service mix of its member companies was changing and going well beyond libraries, competing in all facets of the trade binding industry.

Given this changing environment, LBI reorganized as Hardcover Binders International (HBI) in 2008. Two divisions were created, the Hardcover Binders Division and the Certified Library Binders Division. By doing so, the association broadened its scope by advocating the highest standards in quality, longevity, and durability of all hardcover bound books.

BMI and HBI/LBI anticipate great value in the combining of resources during a time in which the book manufacturing, hardcover binding, and library binding industries are experiencing significant changes. As mentioned previously, LBI emerged from BMI in 1935 so as meet the unique needs of library binders whose sole focus at the time was the binding of books. Book manufacturers, on the other hand, focused on the printing and binding of books. Now that the two associations are one, the combined organization is better positioned to provide world-class support and services for its members, its members’ customers, and ultimately the consumer.

Although LBI initiated and participated in standards development for nearly seventy years, including the most current library binding standard, ANSI /NISO/ LBI Library Binding Standard, Z39.78-2000, association representatives are now working with other organizations to create an ISO standard for photo books.

Within BMI, there now exists a Library Binding Council (LBC) which was formed to ensure the participation of former HBI/LBI members in association/industry events, committees and trade shows. LBC meetings are held as a part of the BMI Management and Annual Conferences. Through this participation, LBC members are better prepared to stay current on best practices and in tune with the needs of their customers which include libraries, publishers, schools, and printers. The continuation of the certification process and maintenance of standards for the library market is also ensured.

Today, the BMI has over eighty members continuing to represent all facets of book manufacturing with member companies producing more than 85% of the books published in the United States. Each year, BMI conducts two conferences: the Annual Meeting and Conference in late October/early November, and the Management Conference in late April/early May. All members are eligible to attend these conferences. The programs and speakers for these conferences vary, but their basic objectives remain the same:  (1) to provide an opportunity for industry members to meet and interact with their peers, and (2) to discuss and work on the problems of industry-wide concern.  In addition to the Conferences, BMI conducts special seminars (Roundtables) on subjects of immediate and particular concern to book manufacturers and suppliers such as: Technology, Human Resources, and Finance. Many committee meetings are held each year and every member with an interest in the work of a committee is afforded the opportunity to participate.

The BMI is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of ten Active and five Associate members.  The BMI legal counsel reviews all Directors’ minutes, committee minutes and activities of the Institute and attends all Board of Directors meetings.