Comailing and Cobinding: A Critical Consideration

Comailing is the process of merging catalogs that have already been bound into one mail stream. Cobinding occurs during the bindery process as the catalogs are being bound so that catalogs sharing the same trim size can be comingled into the same mail stream.

Why is this important to know? Some printers are saying that the catalogs no longer have to be the same trim size to benefit from the cost savings as comailing. While the U.S. Postal Service does not require comailed catalogs to be the same trim size, there are disadvantages to comailing with catalogs of varying trim sizes.

We have always suggested that the catalogs be the same trim size for one main reason: the ability to ink-jet the order form inside the catalog. When a catalog is comailed with other catalogs that do not share the same trim size, the printer is unable to ink-jet address the order form inside the book. That’s because the catalogs have already been bound and cannot be opened using automated high-speed ink-jetting equipment. When trim sizes vary, the printer can ink-jet only the back cover. The cataloger therefore has to rely more on the match-back for order tracking. In order to have the printer ink-jet the inside order form of your catalog, you must cobind your book with other catalogs with the same trim size.

What’s more, comailing is not as cost- or time-efficient as cobinding is, given that it involves an additional manufacturing step after the two catalogs have already been bound.

Stephen R. Lett is the president of Bethany Beach, DE-based Lett Direct, a catalog consulting firm specializing in circulation planning, forecasting, and analysis.