- Notebook World
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How do you differ from other manufacturers?
bb: We have no standard books. Our books are highly individual. Then, of course, our vast selection of materials that allow every customer to have a book produced that fits perfectly to their brand. And then, of course, there are a thousand possibilities to finish a book. A very significant factor: those who call us will speak with an expert of book production or book design. We make notebooks and books exclusively and have great know-how in this area.
You offer so many possibilities for a book production. How do you do that?
bb: We can’t make everything ourselves, but we always work together with the best and, unfortunately, often the last specialists of the trade – whether we need a sophisticated book edge or a special print or finishing technique such as letterpress or holographic embossing.
Why “made in Germany”?
Or, what factors speak against notebooks “made in China”?
bb: Most of the notebooks that are produced in China, contain paper that originates from illegally felled tropical wood from Indonesia. For the most part, paper manufacturers in China use lots of fresh water, unlike Europe – where we work with a friendlier, closed water circulation. The composition of cover materials from the Far East is also not subjected to the same strict regulations as in Europe. But most important of all is the durability: a notebook of poor quality, whether it has an inadequate binding or an unpleasant smell, will certainly not be used and in this way, cannot function as an ambassador for a brand.
“It’s always the most simple ideas producing exceptional achievements.”Leo Tolstoi
Why do you have so many international customers?
bb: Our first customer from London, a renowned international design magazine gave us a lot of support, so that in the meantime, we have a name as book manufacturers in the best circles. As a result, we have worked for the MoMA in San Francisco and the Google headquarters, among others. In a lot of countries, such as the USA or the UK, the book industry still only exists in rudimentary form. In Germany, it’s a different story. Here, there are still handcraft businesses that we can refer to when we need, for example, a very special book edge. Or we work with competitive-friendly companies, who are in the process of reviving old techniques.
You have an impressive list of customers …
bb: Without our customers, we wouldn’t be able to do our wonderful job and live out our passion for books. The good thing is, we gather new knowledge and experience with every new book production and this has a positive effect on future productions. That means, every book that we produce today, contains the experience of thousands of previous productions.
“Seeking to fascinate your clients, you need to provide them with extraordinary ideas.”Marcus Berthold
Why should a psi-distributor come to brandbook?
bb: Because we work with the conviction and know-how of a thousand productions. And besides, we are masters of customising books and notebooks in their entire spectrum.
Aren’t you sometimes making it too complicated for your customers?
bb: Let us put it this way: we also have solutions for customers that need, for example, 100 books with their company logo in a hurry, for an upcoming event – we can do that too. But book productions that present us with a challenge are our real passion. A lot of advertising and design agencies or manufacturers of promotional products expect high-quality and customised products.
Are your books more expensive than your competitors?
bb: Maybe some people would think that. But the fact is that our books are only relatively more expensive as the so-called brand products that are “made in China”. A distributor should consider what is more important to him: a few cents more price difference or the certainty of having a qualitative, high-end book and with that, satisfied customers.
Warum ein Notizbuch und nicht einen USB Stick als Kundengeschenk?
bb: Yes, in the world of promotional products, there are always hypes about the latest gadgets. It used to be usb-sticks, and then it was power banks. We will see what comes next … By the way, don’t forget that other companies have already possibly supplied the business partners with the same gadgets. A notebook is something completely different. It sends the message to the recipient: “I believe that you have good ideas that need to be written down.” It is also very flattering for the recipient. Moreover, they will notice very quickly that with every new entry, every new note, the book becomes more and more valuable. What other gift can you say that about?
„Nichts ist mächtiger als eine Idee zur richtigen Zeit.“Victor Hugo
Your books are now available in stores.
bb: Yes, four years ago, we started our nuuna label, to create an area of experimentation for ourselves. That means to produce notebooks that don’t yet exist in this form. In the meantime, our books are available worldwide in concept stores, museum shops and premium shopping centres. The basic idea behind the label is to design and produce notebooks for the “here and now”. No vintage or retro styles, but to deliberately create a contemporary to avant-garde design. For the current collection, we have just been awarded the Red Dot Design Award, which, of course, really makes us happy.
Do you use a notebook yourself?
bb: Once you have had the experience that handwritten notes are simply easier to remember, one gets in the habit of writing down really important things in notebooks. Additionally, it is a beautiful ritual, because one can focus on one thing without any distraction. It is just: me, the pen and the book. Books are becoming more and more objects that one simply has to own and touch.
Is there something that can be considered a new trend in the notebook sector?
bb: Yes, quite clearly. Today, we produce significantly more image books, look books or portfolios, books as an alternative to image brochures. Frequently, they are notebooks with a company portrait or a beautiful series of photos. The recipients can immerse themselves in the world of the company and at the same time fill the books with notes and comments of their own. Furthermore, our customers are demanding more individualised books. The book for the new Audi should also look as if it was a piece of highly-polished aluminium and not simply a standard notebook with a logo.
How do you see the future of notebooks?
bb: Notebooks are articles of everyday use, that can also be real must-haves, when they are made well. Today, where books stand in direct competition to i-pads & co., these objects must play out all their quality cards to continue to exist and remain relevant: paper, book cover, haptic, the design, the weight and the smell. Apart from that, we agree with the saying from the publisher, Joachim Unseld, who once said: “The book is the most developed invention of mankind.”
Published by Wigmar Bressel, Pascal Johanssen and Olaf Salié
A place for ideas, work tools and loyal companions – notebooks are so much more than simply a few pages of white paper between two book covers. The awareness for optically and qualitative sophisticated journals was almost non-existent for a long time in Germany. When Bernd Griese and Sabine Kochendörfer wanted to just buy a sophisticated notebook, they were shocked to find the drab selection of monotone, monochrome time-planners. Whereas in the USA the back-to-paper movement had already long since taken place, notebooks in Germany were living a “poor relations” existence. Not willing to subject their thoughts and creativity to this “calendar dictate of 3-lines per day”, they decided to simply start producing notebooks themselves. And thus, brandbook was developed in 1998 out of their design and product agency.
The concept is as simple as it is convincing: individual notebooks that are customised to fit the corporate design of every respective customer, meticulously produced in the highest of quality and 100% made in Germany. Even in the age of digitalisation, complex book productions do not lose their importance and appreciation, that is a given that also tells the brandbook success story. The company has already been awarded the Red Dot Award three times – a design award that honours exceptional book productions. Their list of customers include the most renowned design and advertising agencies and over a hundred top companies from the most diverse sectors worldwide. Since 2012, their offer has been expanded to include the nuuna retail collection.
Dates and Facts
Sector: Book Production
Products: Notebooks, Sketchbooks, Corporate Books,
Design Consultations and Support
Location: Frankfurt am Main, Hessen
Distribution: Worldwide, Direct Distribution
The book production is a complex trade with many components – paper quality, type of binding, cover materials, design of corners and edges, finishing techniques such as embossing or colour cut and accessories like ribbon page markers or elastic strip seals. Paper from small Japanese paper mills and exceptional cover materials that are not subjected to machine processing characterise the product range of brandbook as well as extraordinary printing techniques. All the notebooks and notepads are thread bound and are produced responsibly and resource-friendly.
The Brückenstraße district is to Frankfurt, what the Karo district is for Hamburg, the Belgien district for Cologne or the Kastanienallee for Berlin. Here, everyone knows everyone else. Here, everyone has something to do with art, design, fashion or media.
Three record stores, one comic store, two concept stores and lots of fashion stores and cafes create an inspiring work environment. Here is also the home of brandbook. From the street, one can already see the book experts at work over two stories through big display windows. Books, colour fans, paper samples and print sheets are stacked on the tables. brandbook specialises in the production of notebooks, calendars, books and other complex printing productions. Here one can find extraordinary paper, cover materials and samples of diverse printing and finishing techniques. Word of this expertise has spread and as a result, brandbook produces books for customers worldwide. The company’s customer list reflects this high-standing accordingly. Virtually every well-known brand from adidas to Zeche Zollverein is represented. But even the most renowned design and advertising agencies of Europe, that are seldom satisfied with standard solutions, find brandbook the perfect production partner for their book projects.
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books … Don´t f_ck them.”John Waters, réalisateur
A stationery collection of your own produced under the nuuna label (since 2012) is not only available at the store – right next to the brandbook office – but is also sold as far away as Chile. That is unusual for a product that is produced exclusively in Germany and in accordance with high environmental and social standards. After all, approx. 90% of all notebooks today are produced in Asia. brandbook and nuuna can of course also gain additional plus points in regards to design and product quality. Through the collaboration of the eleven-member team that consists of print engineers, graphic designers, book scientists and print production experts, different perspectives are taken into account, so that at the end of every order a harmonious product is created. A further part of the success is surely due to the passion with which the book enthusiasts go to work. An individual, personal consultation and also a fast delivery times are additional advantages that customers of brandbook can expect.
In any case, here, one doesn’t have to fear the mantra that books and notebooks have no future. As an answer to the saying, “Print is dead” brandbook answers with confidence, “Print is not dead it just smells funny” written on our windows.