Behind the Scenes: Reading a Final Binder - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Behind the Scenes: Reading a Final Binder

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs
Being somewhat new to the magazine business (I have been a contributing editor of nearly nine years) I was unsure what to expect when I moved into my new position at Popular Woodworking magazine. You may think that this is a job you would like to fill one day. You may also be wondering how a magazine gets published. This is going to be a continuing saga of what happens behind the scenes of Popular Woodworking magazine. Sit back and take a look.

During the first week we reached what they call at Popwood – “Final Binder.” This is where all the members of the magazine staff go to a local coffee house and drink coffee while we read the magazine one last time before it is sent to print. Sounded great to me, but the others held their heads low as to suggest that this was not the fun times that I expected. I wondered why? Drink coffee and read about woodworking , how could this not be a great day?

We settled in at the out-of-office location, read the next issue to be printed word-for-word and made any necessary changes. This time it was what we call an “SIP” , an issue that is sold only on the newsstands. We drank a couple of cups of Joe and had a good time laughing, reading and generally building camaraderie all while finalizing the issue for the last time. Still, on the way back to the office I wondered why this task was looked upon so drearily. I was soon to attain my answer.

As we began working on the next issue, the February issue of Popular Woodworking, I found that reading is indeed a necessary and vital part of editing at a magazine. Imagine that! Each article written is brought into the Popwood office, run through a design program, printed and slid into a folder. That folder is circulated to each editor, from Chris on down, and read for content to make sure that it is understood and able to be built, as well as for design changes and correct spelling and punctuation (Megan’s specialty). That’s one time around.

The corrections are made and the new pages are circulated a second time. Once again it is the editors’ job to peruse the pages to find any undiscovered corrections that may have slipped by undetected during the previous cycle. We open the folder, read the article, make any changes and slide it to the next name of the list. That’s two times around.

Well guess what? We have reached another final binder. I am beginning to understand the anguish of this concept in the world of magazines. We will move to the coffee shop and read the copy for the third time around. Yeah, three times for each issue and every story. And this is only my second trip. The others in the editorial staff have experienced this phenomenon countless times.

I can see their point, but, I can also fill you in on something that I have already discovered. I use to pass on the articles that were not grabbing me as I thumbed through the pages! As I read every article during this edition of final binder for the third and final time, including the ones that I might have bypassed before I joined the magazine staff, I am finding a fountain of excellent information that I was missing in the prior issues. I can’t help but wonder how much additional knowledge I would have regarding woodworking, all stages of woodworking, if I would have never allowed a written word to go unread. Try it – it might just surprise you as it has me.

, Glen D. Huey

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Showing 7 comments
  • Louis DuFresne

    I can’t see the typo you’re referring to in the last paragraph, second sentence. But there is one re the word "use" at the beginning of the same para. and sentence. Since the sentence is past tense, I think the word ought to be "used."


  • Jack McDowell

    Very interesting article. I will try to follow the blog. By the way, last paragraph second sentence – "TYPO". (we – were ?)

  • Mike Wenzloff

    Hi Glen,

    When I heard you were taking the job I was both very happy it was you chosen, as well as having an idea of what you were going to possibly face in the position.

    Glad to see you blogging about it and look forward to your other contributions at PopWood.

    Take care, Mike

  • Louis Bois

    Glen, you are a lucky dog. I look forward to reading each and every word…make sure you sweep those hidden corners to get the extra "dirt" on all those fine people. That Chris guy is coming across as far too "nice". He’s hiding something…and it’s not just a fetish for scrapers!!! 🙂

    Good luck Glen. I can’t imagine a better candidate to fill David’s shoes…

  • Glen D. Huey

    I am not bashing the graphic design team here at Popwood at all! In fact we, the struggling editors, load the stories into the design program, Linda Watts, the design Guru gets a short time to push together a basic idea as to the layout and as we circulate the info for corrections, Linda works her magic to make things look as great as they do in the pages of the magazine.

    It is nice being in the offices here in Blue Ash, OH. I can only imagine the day to day in the old digs down the road a piece. Thanks Jim

  • Jim Stuard

    Nice first post Glen,
    Back in the day before I was the mayor of Poopville, it was a different process. We used a cloistered, monk-like system that didn’t sound like it was near as enjoyable as the present method. If you saw a post-it on Chris’ door that said "Binder", you didn’t knock, if you valued your life. We were definitely cave crickets back then. With the advent of the cube farm, I imagine the SOP has changed.
    -Good luck Glen,
    -Jim Stuard

  • BuzzSaw

    "run through a design program, printed and slid into a folder"

    Way to give props to the graphic design staff. I wonder if they describe the editorial process as an article "being run through a word processing program."

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