Binders and finishing workers work primarily in the printing and publishing industries, producing finished magazines and books that are well bound and will stand the test of time. This is a male-dominated industry; in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found no women employed as bookbinders, though this may be partly attributable to the relatively small size of the occupation. Either way, the publishing industry is suffering serious contraction, and men or women will likely have difficulty finding employment as bookbinders for the foreseeable future.
Average National Pay and Pay Range
According to the BLS, binding workers reported an average wage of $15.17 per hour and an average salary of $31,560 per year. Half of all bookbinders reported annual pay ranging from $23,350 to $37,820. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned $19,340 or less per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent reported annual pay of $46,530 or more.
Pay by Industry
Most binding workers worked in the printing industry in 2012, earning an average salary of $31,520 per year. Those employed directly by book and magazine publishers reported somewhat lower pay, an average of $29,910 per year. Workers who bound publications for local and state government agencies reported a high average salary of around $40,000, while those employed by the federal government reported a very high salary for their occupation, $72,150 per year.
Pay by Region
Bookbinders working in the Northeast commanded the highest average salaries in 2012, while those in the Midwest tended to earn the lowest average pay. Given the very high salary paid to federal workers, it's hardly surprising that the District of Columbia reported far higher pay for bookbinders than any other area -- an average of $62,210 per year. Those in Maryland averaged $39,660 per year, while bookbinders in Vermont averaged $36,720 per year and those in Massachusetts averaged $36,210. Binders in Wyoming reported the lowest average salary in the country, $21,550 per year.
Electronic reading materials, whether websites or e-readers, have been seriously eroding the market share of book and magazine publishers for over a decade. While the BLS expects occupations in the American economy to add jobs at an average rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020, it predicts that jobs for binding workers will decrease by 3 percent. If this prediction holds true, 1,700 bookbinding positions will disappear by 2020. This means that many who retire may not be replaced and that job openings in the industry will be scarce.