book printing, book printer

“I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.” I SHOULD HAVE READ THIS FIRST!


If you are about to publish your own book or a book by one of your writers that you publish, you are faced with two scenarios that you of necessity must conquer. The first is cost in book printing. Are you getting the best deal once you put your specifications out to bid to your book printer and are you doing everything in your power to deliver the most cost effective print files? Secondly, are your book printing files set up right for the book printer? Is the layout “print friendly”? Both of these things, costs and files, are inter-related in that poor files will cost you money due to poor efficiency and potential press mistakes as you will want to make sure that you are printing in the most press efficient manner possible.

 “Swim Downstream” and K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) are two commonly used phrases in business and in life and so it is with book printing. When it comes to design, the biggest mistake other than just boring design that writers and publishers make is over designing for the book printing press. Keep it simple and work with the equipment, as if not you will potentially pay dearly. You always want to stick with the right book printing press and the best format for that press’ abilities. If you are producing mass produced books at larger runs, provide a page size that fits the typical web book printing press format, which is 5 3/8 x 8 3/8”. A 6 x 9” format will call for a larger roll or less yield from the roll and thus a higher price to you. If on a digital POD press, then a 6 x 9” size is most unfriendly as it can only be run one up and not two as the slightly smaller size can. The reason for this is that all digital toner type press owners pay a click fee for every sheet of paper running through the press. Thus two up rather than one page up is a 2fer.

Tighten up your page count if possible: You pay for all of the blank pages at the back of the book, so if there is anywhere you can edit and bring your finished book into neat 16 or 32 or 8 if necessary,  page signatures, you are thus utilizing all of the paper the press is running. This is because it is less costly to the book printing press to add blank pages than to subtract any at bindery. On large runs paper is half of the cost to produce your book by the book printer, so any pages saved is money in your pocket. Also as paper is a crucial cost, a lighter grade will also be a cost saving factor both on press and for the shipping of your books.

What is an “Image Area”? The image area is the area on the trimmed page where ink will be laid down. As most book printing is done on a web press, web presses, like hula dancers have “jiggle”. This simply means that due to the high speed and older age of book printing presses as compared to newer heat set publication presses, the paper roll is not running through the equipment in a clean and straight path. If you have copy too close to the edge you risk in the worst case having some cut into or in the average case, the “jiggle” being more noticeable than it needs to be in the finished book printing. Therefore the average safety margin is to allow for 3/8” all around the page. Also, while at it, it is good if you can adjust your pages so that the copy is offset by 1/16th of an inch from the inside of page for a perfect bound book.

Don’t Mix and Match Inks: Four color printing for your cover, and text if your book text is in color, are printed using CMYK. Make sure you do not use and/or remove any Pantone call outs you may have first used to set up your color as desired. This will either cause a more expensive book printing for you or the Pantones will default to colors you may not want on the RIP. Other than metallic, fluorescent and bright orange or red inks, most colors print very nicely made from CMYK.

Be Sure That The Files You Upload Are What the Book Printer Requires:

1-Run spell check BEFORE you hand off your book printing files

2-Do not provide multiple pages as individual files. Provide one file for text and one for cover.

3-Cover resolution should be 300 dpi (dots per inch). A low rez “internet” JPG may only have 5% of the dots needed to print in high resolution with ink.

4-Provide the book printer with a road map with respect what you have provided, especially if you are handing off native files, with separate folders for fonts and images. Compress with WinZip, Stuffit or WinRar any files you are uploading or emailing as otherwise fonts WILL corrupt.

5-NEVER send any book printing files that are not to be printed as you can be sure they will be and that you will pay for something you did not need.

6-As with all printing “redundancy” and “clarity” are your two best pals in book printing.

7-Provide “book printer friendly” native files, such as InDesign or Quark and not Word or some other “book printing software” downloaded on the cheap, as the book printing company will probably not be able to use them. Most book printers today will only accept PDF files in any event.

8-Do not resize your images in the document program. This creates files that are too large and may not even be printable. Use Photoshop to size your images before importing them into the document program.

9-Create book covers that can be easily adjusted on press, to allow for some safety margins and book printer latitude if your sizing was wrong. Therefore a solid color, white or if art cross over art, that if the spine needs adjustment to fit, the cover does not look visually off.

Hopefully you will find some of the book printing information here useful prior to your next attempt at book production.

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