Frequently Asked Questions about Book Printing

Have a question for us?

You're probably not the only one. Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently. If your question isn’t listed, ask us a question or call 734-426-3939.

Customer Service FAQs

  • Q: What can I expect from my customer service team?

    On the day your complete job and signed quote are received, you will be emailed or faxed a Customer Notification. This lets you know that your job has been received and lists any missing items, i.e., shipping instructions, foil choice.
    If you are new to Thomson-Shore, a welcome letter will be emailed or faxed to you. This welcome letter introduces you to your team at Thomson-Shore and provides their contact information. Your team includes a Customer Service Representative (CSR), Customer Service Associate (CSA), Planner, and Cover Artist.
    Your job pieces (text, cover, jacket, inserts) will be simultaneously reviewed, imposed and prepped for press and manufacturing. If there are any questions at this stage, you will receive communication from your Thomson-Shore team requesting information.
    Thomson-Shore proof approvals can be communicated via email or phone. Please discuss any changes with your CSR.Your CSR is the leader of the Customer Service team. Your CSR can help you with proofing, scheduling, and packing and shipping questions.
    > Thomson-Shore's Contact page

  • Q: Where is Thomson-Shore located?

    We are located in Dexter, Michigan. You can get driving directions and other useful information on the Our Location page.

  • Q: Who is my Thomson-Shore representative?

    At Thomson Shore, our customer service department is divided into three market segments – Trade and Professional, Religious and Independent Publisher, and University. You will be assigned to a customer service team based on your market segment.

    > Thomson-Shore's Customer Service Page

Project Design FAQs

  • Q: Why do you ask if there are any bleeds on the text pages of my project?

    A bleed is a printed image that extends beyond one or more of the page margins. If bleeds fall on certain pages, based on the page count and trim size, it could cost more to produce because the bleeds may cause a double pass at press. To accommodate bleeds a printer may use a larger sheet size to print on.

  • Q: What is a horizontal or landscape book?

    This type of book is also referred to as short side bind. This is a book that is wider than it is tall.

  • Q: What does the acronym PPI stand for?

    Pages Per Inch. The spine bulk of a book is calculated by taking the page count and dividing it by the PPI.

  • Q: What would be considered a good page count?

    Anything divisible by 8 and meets requirements for the minimum bulk of the specified binding. The most economical page count is divisible by 32.

  • Q: What does the acronym PMS stand for?

    PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. This is a system widely used in the graphic arts industry. There are hundreds of colors to choose from. The book shows what the color will look like on coated and uncoated stock. We recommend to all of our customers to invest in a PMS book. Keep in mind that the colors can fade over time. Keep the book out of direct sun.

  • Q: Where do I get my ISBN, Library of Congress, and Copyright info?

    You can find useful information about this on the ISBN, Library of Congress & Copyright page.

  • Q: What Electronic file types do you accept?

    Text Files - Our preference for Black only text is PDF files (out of virtually any native application). Our pricing does reflect this. However, we do support a large range of applications. A complete guideline of supported platforms, operating systems, and applications that Thomson-Shore supports can be found on the Electronic Pre-press Guidelines page.

    Cover Files - We accept both PDF and native application files for covers, jackets, or even text that includes color. A complete guideline of supported platforms, operating systems, and applications that Thomson-Shore supports can be found on the Electronic Pre-press Guidelines page.

    New upgrade releases - When application upgrades are released, Thomson-Shore will test the upgrade fully before offering full support for them. We test upgrades with our current systems to establish compatibility and to update our guidelines. This is especially true of major upgrades, but does not necessarily mean we won't accept files from those upgraded versions.

  • Q: What's the difference between RGB and CMYK and how do I use them to achieve the best results?

    RGB mode refers to the additive colors Red, Green and Blue.  It is optimized for display on computer monitors and peripherals, most notably scanning devices.  If red, green and blue light are combined, you will get white light.  This is the principal behind the monitor your computer uses.

    CMYK mode refers to the subtractive colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  If we print cyan, magenta and yellow on white paper, they absorb the light shining onto the page.  Since our eyes received no reflected light from the paper, we perceive black.  The printing world operates in subtractive color, or CMYK mode.  

    in practice, printing subtractive inks may contain impurities that prevent them from absorbing light perfectly.  They do a pretty good job with light colors, but when we add them all together, they produce a murky brown rather than black.  In order to get decent dark colors, black ink is added in increasing proportions, as the color gets darker and darker.  This is what the "K" stands for in CMYK.  "K" is used to indicate black instead of "B" to avoid possible confusion over Blue ink. 

Project Materials FAQs

  • Q: Is your paper acid free?

    Yes, Thomson-Shore stocks all acid free paper. Acid free paper can last up to 200 years where as acid papers last around 50 years. To read about Environmental options click here or contact your customer service representative.

  • Q: Is there a cost difference between White and Natural papers that you stock?

    Yes, White stocking text papers are generally less expensive.

  • Q: What are head and foot bands?

    Head and foot bands are a small piece of silk or cotton which are glued to the top and bottom of a case bound book. These fill the gap normally formed between the spine of the book and the case. The only purpose is decorative. They come in a variety of solid and "striped" colors.

  • Q: Can you stamp in colors?

    Yes, Thomson-Shore offers a wide selection of stamping options. Color foil is considered pigment foil where gold and silver foil is considered metallic. The metallic foil is usually more economical and generally stamps cleaner.

  • Q: What is a C1S Stock?

    This stands for Coated One Side. Usually refers to coated one side white cover stock.

  • Q: What casebound cloth materials do you offer? And what is available?

    Thomson-Shore inventories Arrestox and Pearl Linen. We also offer a wide selection of special order cloth - just give us a call.

  • Q: What is shrink-wrapping?

    Cellophane like wrapping that we heat shrink to protect your books. This is done around the finished books before boxing. The books can be shrink-wrapped in groups or individually. If you have a matte lamination with dark print, Thomson-Shore highly recommends shrink wrapping to protect the cover or jacket from marking due to the soft nature of matte lamination.

  • Q: What is the difference between Lamination, UV Coating, and Varnish?

    Lamination - is a very durable film that is applied to jackets, covers and printed cases to prevent ink from scuffing and creates a very nice finished look. Lamination is done with heat and pressure and is done in house. Lamination comes in gloss and matte finish. It also comes in nylon and polypropylene. One word of caution if you are considering matte lamination: this lamination is very soft and can scuff easily. This scuffing is especially visible on dark colors.

    UV Coating - is a liquid form process, Thomson-Shore feels this form of coating potentially scuffs easier than lamination. We do not UV Coat in house. However, we can outsource this type of coating for you. UV coating also comes in gloss and matte finish.

    Varnish - is an inferior coating that is applied mainly to seal ink on the finished press sheets. We do not recommend this coating for covers and jackets on coated stock.

Manufacturing Stage FAQs

  • Q: What's the difference between digital printing and offset printing?

    The real value of digital is the speed in which we are able to turn around your books. Typical run lengths for digitally produced books are 1 to 400. Once you get above that 400 mark, it might make more economic sense to print your title using our offset equipment.

    Using offset will usually keep your total cost per unit down as it is typically used for much larger runs – 400+ units. You will also have more options for materials, trim sizes, bind styles and specialty printing techniques using offset.

    With that said, there is a lot that goes into the decision to produce offset vs. digital; please contact your customer service representative to see which option is best for you.

  • Q: What is a printed case?

    Also referred to as a litho case, it is when the artwork is printed directly onto the case material, vs. having the artwork or type foil stamped.

  • Q: When do I need to provide packing instructions?

    Your job will flow from Press to Bindery, at which point it is packaged. Please provide your packing instructions in advance of your press date.

  • Q: What special finishing options are available?

    Covers and jackets:
    Foil stamping and embossing
    Spot lamination effects
    Finished books:
    Card insertion - an index card (BRC) can be randomly inserted into your books.
    Tip-in - Hand gluing one or more additional pages.
    Machine Drill - 3 hole punch along spine.
    Shrink wrap - single or multiple copies in clear plastic.
    CD or DVD Inserting.
    Ribbon markers
    If you have any questions, you can contact us or your sales person.

  • Q: What is perfect binding?

    This is a process used for some soft bound books. After printing, during the folding process the sections are perforated. We collate all the folded sections and mill 1/8" of an inch off the spine. Glue is then applied to the spine and the cover is pressed on. The loss of the 1/8" is included in the bind margin when manufacturing.

  • Q: What is Smyth Sewing?

    This is where all the signatures to the book are sewn together using thread and glue. Typical bindings using this method are, sewn case bind and sewn glue-on-cover. This bind style is acceptable for libraries.

  • Q: What is Notch Binding?

    During the folding process notches are made to the spine of each signature. These notches allow glue to penetrate deeper into the signatures. It is similar to the perfect binding process. Cosmetically, notch binding will leave a "shark tooth" appearance at the top and bottom of the book where the glue holds in the pages.

  • Q: What are my packing choices ?
    • Shrink wrapping: either individually or in multiples.
    • Specific carton label information. Our standard carton label includes title, author, quantity, and ISBN number.
    • Specific quantity of books per carton (Note: this may involve a special order carton which may be an additional charge).
    • The standard label on carton includes title, author, quantity, ISBN

    Do you require different information?  If so, just contact us.

Shipping Stage FAQs

  • Q: What does F.O.B. stand for?

    When a Thomson-Shore estimator quoted your project it was most likely quoted F.O.B. Origin, freight prepaid and charged back. In simple terms, F.O.B. (Free On Board) refers to the responsibility for freight cost and transit risk. F.O.B. origin means that under the terms of sale the buyer bears all freight and associated charges, owns the goods in transit, and is responsible for any claims that may arise as a result of transit.> More shipping information

  • Q: What are the general shipping procedures?
    • It is best if you provide your service team with clear and complete written instructions for all shipments related to your project as soon as possible.
    • Final shipment of a project consists of one-drop shipment (advance copies) and the bulk shipment. Additional shipments will incur administrative charges; please contact your customer service team for details.
    • Thomson-Shore has established pricing agreements with national LTL carriers to provide our customers with highly competitive freight rates.
    • Our customer service representatives can help pick the carrier that will deliver your project, or you may specify the carrier.
    • Thomson-Shore does not guarantee estimated/quoted freight rates and assessorial charges. We can provide a good faith estimate of the charges. However,
      • If shipment is prepaid by Thomson-Shore: you will be invoiced based on final freight invoice plus an administrative processing fee.
      • If shipment is collect: you will be responsible for paying the actual freight invoice.
    • Note: The freight carrier may require payment at the time of delivery for collect shipments if you have not established credit with them.
    • Your customer service representative will email or fax a copy of the Bill of Lading to you the day following shipment of your goods.
    • It is your responsibility to verify that your shipment was received in good shape and that you received what was shipped. Any exceptions must be noted at time of receipt on the bill of lading/delivery receipt. If there are damages, consider taking pictures to include with your claim.
      • If shipment is prepaid by Thomson-Shore: we will file a claim on your behalf for damages or shortages.
      • If shipment is collect: freight companies require that you file the claim.

    > More shipping information

  • Q: What are small parcel shipments?
    • Overnight shipments of more than a few pounds can be very expensive. If you specify next day delivery of multiple cartons please verify cost with your service team. We cannot reverse the charges after the service has been performed.
    • If you specify your shipment via UPS Hundred Weight please be advised that there is a $6 per carton charge to prepare each individual carton for shipment.
    • Multiple drop shipments sent as individual cartons will also incur a $6 per carton/$6 per address charge to prepare each carton for shipment.
    • UPS and FedEx cannot deliver to a P.O. Box. The street address is required.
    • Shipments sent via USPS, other than Express Mail, cannot be traced.

    > More shipping information

  • Q: What are motor freight carriers?

    Most customers (consignee) avoid expensive assessorial charges by receiving their freight at a shipping/receiving dock where the freight can be unloaded using a forklift or hand jack. For customers unable to receive freight in this manner, there are charges assessed by the freight carrier (whether shipping via pre-paid or collect) that you need to be aware of. Expect to pay $85-$500 for these services.

    • Inside Delivery - If consignee requires delivery to a specific area beyond the receiving dock an inside delivery charge will be applied. Inside delivery is defined as out of the elements (overhang, garage); it does not include a specific location down a hall, or down stairs in a basement.
    • Residential Delivery – Shipments delivered to private residences are assessed a residential delivery charge. The term “private residence” also includes apartments, churches, schools, pre-schools, day cares, camps, farms, public storage facilities and other such locations not generally recognized as a commercial location.
    • Lift Gate Service – When the carrier is required to employ a hydraulic lifting or lowering device to accomplish delivery from the carrier's vehicle there is a lift gate service charge.
    • Notification Prior to Delivery – When carrier is required to notify consignee prior to delivery there is a notification charge applied.

    Actual charges for these services will vary by company, and are usually based on a charge per hundred pounds subject to a minimum. Please discuss the services that may be required for your shipment with your service team. If the services are not requested on the Original Bill of Lading the carrier may not perform delivery until they have requested authorization to charge and perform the service. This could delay your shipment and the freight company might charge a redelivery fee.> More shipping information