4 Book Printing Tips to Save Time & Money
By: Chuck Manthey, President, Sentinel Printing
The flow of information from customer to printer – and vice versa – is critical to all aspects of the book production cycle, from estimating and scheduling to packing and shipping. To be sure the finished product meets your expectations, everyone involved in its production must know all critical aspects before ink is laid on paper. Here are some tips to keep in mind when exchanging information about your book with your printer.
1. Getting Back to Basics
It sounds simple, but start by communicating the basics of your book project: page count, quantity and final trim size. This information is needed to begin preparing an estimate.
This is a good time to ask for the printers ideas on how to save money with standard sizes, economical papers, how recycled paper may affect the price, etc. Your printer likely has helpful ideas based on their equipment and experience in printing. Use them as a project resource.
If your project is a rerun supply a sample of the original version during the estimating process. This allows your printer to create the most accurate estimate possible. During this stage, we may be able to suggest stock or slight format changes that can enhance the value of the book.
Good book planning begins with the delivery date. Once your printer knows the date by which you need your books, they can create a production schedule that meets your deadline. This includes blocking time on appropriate presses and other equipment, and checking availability of paper. Be sure to plan in shipping time to accommodate your delivery date too! Sometimes delivery can take up to a week depending on distance.
2. Building Your Book
Book pages are printed as signatures, or multiple pages laid out on a single sheet of paper. The number of pages that can fit on each side of a sheet is determined based on the final trim size of your books. Since common trim sizes are designed to fit 8, 12, 16, or 32 pages on each sheet, the page count of your book plays an important role in how much paper is used and how efficiently the book will be produced.
The format of your book should also be considered; oblong layouts can be less economical to produce, so be sure to let your printer know if your book will be bound in portrait or landscape format.
Page Counts vs. Sheet Counts
One important note: “Page counts” differ from “sheet counts”. In the printing world, page refers to one side of a sheet. Therefore, a book with 120 pages would require 60 sheets. This can cause confusion between designers and printers, so be sure that your book’s page count refers to the number of pages that will be printed, not the number of sheets.
The cost of paper is often a large percentage of the total price of a book project. There are also hundreds of types of papers, and they vary based on weight, color, brightness, finish and a host of other factors. Therefore it is important that you consult your printer when selecting papers for both the text pages and cover of your book. Most printers maintain an inventory of “house stocks”, or commonly used paper selections that are bought in volume and therefore often can be offered at a discount.
Paper availability fluctuates, so give your printer plenty of time to order the exact paper you require. If you choose to purchase your own paper, supply your printer with all of its specifications. This allows us to make appropriate recommendations for inks and coatings.
Sheetfed vs. Web Presses
Ink coverage, bleeds and areas of critical registration should be communicated to your printer. This information will often help your printer determine the best equipment on which to run your books, especially if your printer has a mix of sheetfed and web presses. For example, if your book requires critical registration on many pages, it may not be a good candidate to be run on a non-heatset web press.
3. Sending Files Correctly
Once your book is designed, it’s time to send your files to your printer. One of the most critical aspects to timely print production is to send all necessary files to your printer completely and correctly. This includes all layout files, all screen and printer versions of fonts, and all image files. Most book printers have the latest versions of all layout software in both PC and Mac format, but a quick call can save some headaches.
Adobe PDF files are gaining in popularity because of their ability to embed all graphics and fonts, allowing you to create a single “print-ready” file that includes all the elements of your book. When submitting PDF files, however, your printer may request that you send native files as well. That allows your printer to make changes easily during the prepress stage, which can save time and money.
Uploading Your Files via FTP
Many printers have FTP servers available for a quick, hassle free way to submit files. FTP upload generally involves little more than opening your Web browser, typing in the FTP address and dragging files into a designated folder.
There are a variety of proofs available from printers, including “hard” (physical printed proofs) and “soft” (digital files) proofs. Turnaround time, cost, and your comfort with a particular type of proof will help determine the appropriate proofing method. Clear and timely communication with your printer during proofing is essential to keeping your project on schedule.
4. Binding Your Book
Of course, no book product is complete until it is bound. A full-service book printer can provide several in-house binding services, and will help you choose the right binding method for your project. Your binding selection will trigger the need for ancillary services such as folding, gluing, drilling, laminating and shrink-wrapping.
Even packing and shipping details must be communicated prior to the start of production. Maximum carton weight, label information and other special instructions need to be funneled through the printer to maximize production efficiency end-to-end.
Better Planning Means Happier Customers
No book product becomes a work of art by itself. Many hands play pivotal roles in bringing your books to life. The printer, often at the center of the production activities, needs to be armed with as much information as possible to deliver the book as the you envisioned. By including all of this information early in the estimating and production planning processes, you can greatly impact production efficiency and take a giant leap forward in having a finished book you the meets your expectations.
Chuck Manthey is President of Sentinel Printing Co. Inc., located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Since 1854, Sentinel has provided sheet-fed and cold-set web press services for short to medium print runs of all types. In addition, Sentinel operates a full-service bindery that includes perfect binding, saddle stitching and plastic comb binding. Chuck Manthey can be reached at (800) 450-6434 or by email at [email protected].