Fall 1995

Volume 11 Issue 3


  • An Electronic Prepress Potpourri of Progress...7. 0
  • Switches From Notch To Perfect Binding As Our Preferred Style
  • Spine Bulk And Layout Program Available For Covers & Jackets
  • Thomson-Shore Internet Update
  • Paper Prices: Maybe Good News
  • Blues: If You Get Them, What Should You Look For?
  • Trivia
  • Electronic Tips & Tricks
  • Printer's Ink Hardcopy Information

  • OPI is Ready To Go!

    Electronic Prepress Potpourri of Progress...7. 0

    This story will briefly give you the updated electronic prepress story at Thomson-Shore as it unfolds in several different areas. These areas are:

    1. Our new 7.0 Guidelines that have been redone in all our EP areas plus a new one we've not had before.
    2. The installation of our new (2nd of its kind in the U. S. ) imagesetter.
    3. Current plans for EP seminars and an independent consultant's comments on the T-S EP program.
    4. An update on where we stand in utilizing O. P. I. for illustrated books.
    5. Handling copy corrections for jobs that come on disks.
    6. Our current progress on doing covers and jackets from disk.
    7. EP Customer Service Specialist

    New EP Guidelines: We have updated all of our EP guidelines in versions 7. 0. If you do not have these give us a call or fax and we'll get them to you. We have also added a new guideline for communicating with our FTP server. This server will allow you to send files over the Internet (we are now receiving files on a daily basis via the Internet). All these guidelines can be seen, and downloaded, from our Web site on the Internet, or sent via e-mail or regular mail. Just ask us and we'll send them.

    Also, a new guideline for PostScript conversion is being tested now and should be ready by December 1, although it may not be on the Internet that soon.

    Imagesetter Installation: On November 11, our new "full format" imagesetter, the second one of its kind in the nation, will be installed. It will allow us to electronically impose 16 negatives for a full 32 page signature, in one plate-ready negative. This will be the big breakthrough as far as cost savings, accuracy and speed of production via electronic prepress. This new machine (it will be our third imagesetter) is faster than any imagesetter ever made before, it will handle halftones and screens better than any imagesetter made up to now and it will strip an entire 16 page flat in about 5 minutes... untouched by human hands. By the time you read this it should be running.

    EP Seminars: We had a private consultant who, among other things, handles the EP consulting and EP seminars for the National Association of Photo Lithographers, spend the better part of a week at Thomson-Shore to review what we are doing, make comments and recommendations on how we're doing and what we should be doing. We will also utilize this person and his company to put on EP seminars for us across the country. These will be designed to give the attendees an overview of how to take advantage of electronic prepress for text... from the basics through somewhat more advanced stuff. We have a pretty good idea of what we believe publishers should know and now we plan to survey publishers to find out what you would like to learn. When this is done we'll put together a one day seminar that we can put on in various parts of the country to, hopefully, give you the confidence and the expertise to take advantage of this amazing technology. The seminars will likely not occur until early 1996.

    OPI Update: We have been talking about OPI in Printer's Ink for a couple of issues now and at this point it is no longer being limited to trial jobs. It is now standard operating procedure for illustrated books that have the text copy on disk. The procedure goes like this: You send in your photos early along with whatever removable electronic media to prefer to use. We scan your photos and make a low resolution and a high resolution file of the scanned image. The "low res" files go on your removable media (a 44 megabyte SyQuest cartridge should be large enough for this and we can compress the file if necessary) and it is returned to you. It should be back in your hands within 2 weeks of receiving your photos.

    You or your designer can then size, crop and place the illustrations directly in your text file. This is done with a couple of keystrokes and a mouse. Since it is a low resolution file this is both quick and easy.

    You then send us back the complete file along with your laser prints showing the halftones cropped and in place. With a stroke of a key, we swap the low res file for the high res file we made earlier and the text copy, with the cropped photo already in it, is ready to be imaged, 16 pages up, in a full format, plate ready (or blueline proof-ready) negative that will output at 2540dpi. This process should SAVE close to a week in production time and several dollars per halftone in cost. By the time you read this the cost savings should be finalized but we already know it will be substantial. 'Tis a win-win situation... state of the art scanning, your own cropping and placement plus time and dollar savings!

    Text Corrections on EP Jobs: Correcting a text page on an EP job at the blues stage is not as simple a process as correcting a page in a conventional camera copy job. At this point we charge $8 to reshoot and strip a corrected page regardless if the copy is conventional camera copy or an electronic file. However, on EP corrections we also have a one-time $10 set-up charge that is added to the first customer caused correction.

    If you have pages to be corrected, we prefer to have the "file creator" (you, the customer, or your typesetter) make the correction on the file and send us the corrected file that contains just the corrected page or pages. If there are several pages on one flat we would likely re-image the entire 16 pages. If just one or two pages are corrected on a 16 page flat we'd probably re-image those pages then strip them in, in place of the original pages. This does, however, introduce the opportunity for a stripping problem. These page correction procedures are also addressed in our EP Guidelines.

    Covers and Jackets on Disk: Unlike the rest of the graphic arts world, T-S devoted our early efforts in electronic prepress to developing expertise in the text area instead of covers and jackets. Text is where we felt EP would have the biggest impact and it is also where the most difficult technical challenges lie. I believe we were right in both these assumptions and, in the text area we now naively feel we are pretty much in a class by ourselves as far as staff expertise, equipment and results achieved are concerned. The consultant we had here also helped confirm this.

    However, in the area of covers and jackets, we started slowly and are just now getting up to speed. By the time you read this we will have installed the industry's latest trapping and imposition software for two, three and four color covers and jackets. We will then price cover and jacket copy the same if it comes to us as a mechanical in camera copy form or on a trouble free disk. There will be no difference in price. However, if it is 4 color process and we have to make the separations and do the compositing, there will still be the usual additional charges for that, unless you supply composited negatives.

    Sometime in 1996 we anticipate doing 4 color compositing in-house, if it comes to us on a disk, and this should allow us to quote 4 color covers and jackets done via EP at a lower price than ever before. And, by the end of '96, we expect to do our own 4 color process separations in-house so those prices would come down still further.

    EP Customer Service Specialist: We mentioned last issue that we were putting an EP Customer Service Specialist in place to handle the "tough" questions that our Customer Service Reps don't know the answers to. That new person is Laurie Briegel. She comes to us from another printer where she was their EP Production Group Leader. In the 3 months since Laurie joined T-S she has been working in the EP production area and going to EP seminars on pretty much a full time basis but by the time you read this she should be re-located into our Customer Service area where she'll be immediately available to answer questions and consult as the opportunities arise. For existing customers with EP questions, we'd prefer you still call your Customer Service Rep who will refer you to Laurie if they need to. For readers who are not presently customers and who have EP questions or need EP help, since you have no T-S Customer Service Rep, you may contact Laurie direct via the phone, e-mail, or regular mail.

    Miscellaneous: In the last Printer's Ink we mentioned that there was a new Iomega Zip Drive and a soon to be introduced SyQuest EZ 135 drive which would compete with it. These are both now on the market and we are working with both of them.

    There you have it. All you ever wanted to know about doing books via EP. Or, if we didn't tell you what you wanted to know, hopefully we at least gave you a way to find it out. Give us a call if you feel there's anything here we can help you with.

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    After a couple years of using notch binding as our "default" if a customer calls for soft binding and does not specify either notch or perfect, we have had a change of heart. If a quote request does not specify the soft binding style and the trim size allows, we will henceforth quote on perfect binding. However, on books that want a full 6 1/8" depth, instead of 6", we will still quote notch binding because you can't get that extra 1/8" when you perfect bind.

    We're making the change back to perfect (we actually did nothing but perfect binding until about 1992) partly because some customers have complained about the appearance of the top of the signatures when they are notch bound and partly because it does cost about $30 more to set up for notch binding.

    There are some exceptions to this preference to perfect bind and we will continue to use notch binding unless you tell us otherwise, in the following cases:

    1. A reprint that was notch bound in the previous printing.
    2. On a split bound run where there are case bound books, we'll quote notch binding for the soft bound. This will give you the same margins for both hard and soft bound books whereas, if the soft bound books were perfect bound they'd have different margins.
    3. If the text stock is coated we will not quote perfect binding. Coated stock requires either notch or sewn binding.

    This is not really easy to explain and if you have questions, give us a call. Just remember, we'll quote either way you want if you tell us but if you don't specify, we'll "default" to perfect binding whereas we previously defaulted to notch binding.

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    Thomson-Shore has developed a program which generates spine bulks and cover and jacket layout diagrams. We have done this for our internal use but if you or your designer would like to have one just ask and we'll send it to you. Actually, it can also be downloaded from our Internet home page if you want. The Internet address is


    The program is very easy to use. It has defaults to our standards for all dimensions but it can be edited to suit your purpose. The dimensions it generates are accurate to less than 1/32 of an inch.

    It includes a list of all of our floor sheets along with their PPI's and it also has the PPI's for over 20 commonly used "special order" text stocks.

    We think this is a useful addition to a designer's "tool kit". We use it for virtually every job we print now and have found it to be helpful in avoiding mistakes in figuring jacket and cover dimensions. Along with the easy to follow documentation, it's yours for the asking.

    That's the good news. The bad news is that at the moment it only runs on Windows... however, we're hoping to figure out a way to adapt it to Macs.

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    On October 13, Thomson-Shore had an advertisement appear in the special Internet section in USA Today. The ad ran one day but it will be included on the USA Today "Home Page" for the following 30 days. Basically the ad encourages readers to check out the Thomson-Shore home page on the Internet.

    Currently our Internet home page consists of six different sections. These are an Index; a Plant Tour; a Library; What's New; a Quote Request Form; and a Guest Book.

    Within these sections we include an entire visual tour of the book making process, all of our current EP Guidelines (we are on version 7. 0 now), pictures (new ones will be there shortly) and biographies of our main customer contact people, informative stuff like how to prepare a halftone and the copy that goes on the page, the "best of" Printer's Ink... that assumes some of P. I. is worth saving... the current issue of P. I., a nationwide map showing what industry shows we are attending, where and when they are and which T-S people will be attending, the results of our company wide recycling program, etc.

    Eventually we plan to add all of the production guidelines (there are many of them) our order planners use but first we have to re-write them so they'll be easier to understand.

    At the moment, before we feel any effect from the USA Today ad, we are getting about 50 visits a week to our Internet home page and we receive about 10 quote requests per week via the Internet. Everyday we are receiving letters and e-mail that are overwhelmingly POSITIVE.

    If you would like to receive an e-mail notice when each new issue of Printer's Ink or a new EP Guideline becomes available on the Internet (in the case of Printer's Ink it's available on the Internet at least 3 weeks before it is put in the mail), let us know by sending e-mail to richs@tshore.com and we'll automatically notify you. If you are a current hardcopy subscriber of Printer's Ink and want to save a few trees by reading the same information electronically (in PDF format), please include your name and mailing address in your e-mail message so we can remove you from our hardcopy mailing list.

    Why not try the it yourself? Our Internet address is http://www.tshore.com. If you do visit us and have time, let us know what you think.

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    Glatfelter announced a $. 04/lb increase in natural paper prices on September 1. They apparently felt the other paper companies would follow their lead and they would achieve an industry wide price increase of about 6%.

    In our infinite wisdom, we chose not to recognize this increase immediately, on the assumption that it would not stick, and it now appears we likely were right. After just one month Glatfelter rescinded the increase and moved their prices back to the pre-increase level.

    This may be just a temporary reprieve but for the first time in 18 months we have some indication that the paper prices may have topped out.

    Another indicator of this is that availability of paper has greatly improved. We actually get calls now from paper merchants telling us they have extra paper available if we'd like it. It's been a long time since this happened last.

    What happens next is anybody's guess but for now, things look relatively positive.

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    For years now we have, more or less, discouraged seeing bluelines of the text. Bluelines add at least a week to the schedule... and frequently more than that... they make scheduling of press time more guesswork than science, and they are costly. Perhaps because of this, the percentage of new jobs that ask for full text blues has dropped from over 60% to about 40%.

    However, with the advent of copy coming to us on a disk, with no camera copy for the publisher to check and OK, we are changing our tune. For jobs that come to us in an electronic format (that's now about 30% of our new jobs) we strongly encourage you to see full text blues... at least until we've done a few jobs from your files and both you and we are fairly sure the bugs have been ironed out. We do now have quite a few customers who are at this stage but if you're just getting into desktop publishing and sending files instead of camera ready copy to the printer, blues are the best way to go.

    So, if you are getting blues, here is how we suggest you respond to them:

    The consensus here seems to be that copy is observed for position, imposition and completeness but definitely not for typos or editorial changes. They are not meant to be proof read.

    An additional problem with blues is that the paper they are printed on is light sensitive and can fade quickly in sunlight. They can also be chemically marked by rubber bands or paper clips. In addition to these appearance flaws, in the blue making process small spots can be created on the blues by extraneous light or dust on the paper or on the light source. These are rarely a problem on the negative and will not be on the printed piece but they can cause alarm to the person who is not used to seeing bluelines.

    In summary, look at blues to be sure your copy is all there and in the right position... but don't look much beyond that. The blue just isn't capable of being more than a position proof.

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    The winners in the Chicago Book Clinic's 46th Annual Book Show were announced in September. These books are judged from entries received from across the country, based on "quality of design, manufacture, and fidelity to concept. "

    This year there were just 3 winners in the Scholarly Reference category. We printed two of them, R. R. Donnelley printed the third. I'm tempted to say that makes us twice as good as Donnelley. . . but I won't.

    X X X X X

    By approximately January 1, we will be instituting a "perpetual customer satisfaction survey" which will be mailed to every customer approximately two weeks after a job ships. We've had an employee committee working on the content and logistics of the survey for about two months now and they feel it be a good tool to help us measure how we're performing (if customers return it). No individual customer will receive more than two surveys per year. Our people hope you will respond to this. I know we are taking this project seriously.

    X X X X X

    One subject that a customer asked us to address is the relative differences in 4 color reproduction between an electronic 4 color image reproduced on a computer screen in RGB colors (red, green, and blue) and that same image printed on paper in CMYK (the 4 color printing process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).

    Here's how we see this:

    X X X X X

    Small publishers frequently complain to us that they think they are too small for us to be interested in them. Well, let me say that that is absolutely not the case. Of all the active customers on our customer list, better than half of them print only 1 or 2 titles a year at Thomson-Shore. In the last 12 months we began working with over 350 new customers that we had never printed for before. When you work with no field sales people anywhere in the country you definitely treasure those new customers and prospects who are interested enough to seek you out... and many of them do only one or two titles per year. Whether you are a small publisher or a large publisher, we would be happy to hear from you.

    X X X X X

    One of the quality challenges in book printing is the tendency, every now and then, to have light and dark pages in books... from signature to signature or from one side of the sheet to the other. There is virtually no problem that is as prevalent in book printing as light and dark pages.

    Some while ago a group of T-S employees from our layout, press, and folder departments got together and set out to see if they could come up with a practical solution for ending this problem. After close to six months of investigation and many trial and error experiments, they came up with a technique that has been working successfully now for close to a year. We feel the solution is now permanent. Here is what they've done to solve this problem.

    In 4 color commercial printing, press operators use color bars (which they read with a densitometer) to achieve consistency and reproduce precisely what was on the cromalin proof. To our knowledge this technique had never been used in book printing, partly because printing consistent black seems easy (but it's not) and partly because there's not much room on the sheet to print a solid bar for the densitometer to read.

    After some experimenting we concluded that we could use a 1/4" strip down the center of the sheet to print a series of small "bars and pies" that could give us an accurate and reliable densitometer reading across the length of the sheet. After some weeks of training with this, we fine-tuned the system until it works very easily and effectively. We believe we have now virtually eliminated the opportunity for light and dark pages to occur. We've been doing this for close to a year now and have concluded that it can be considered a complete success.

    The one downside to our system is that it requires a double burn on all of our printing plates and this raises costs a bit. However, this is more than offset by the elimination of book printing's largest quality hang-up. When our new imagesetter begins working in November, it will be able to image the copy and the color bars with one single exposure so that double burn will not be needed on jobs where the copy comes on a disk.

    X X X X X

    A new "paper" that uses Kenaf (Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family) instead of trees, or pulp, as its basic ingredient has been getting some publicity lately. At the time this started we received calls about Kenaf from several customers and we followed up with the manufacturer who was sending out the publicity releases.

    The story we got is that the stuff is indeed available but at this point it is more than double the cost of regular paper and it hasn't yet developed a consistent color from one batch to the next.

    I suspect Kenaf may have a future but it seems unlikely that it will develop into a viable substitute for "regular" paper in the book printing business.

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    Submitting PostScript Files On Disk:

    When you submit your job as PostScript files, rather than application files, Adobe informs us that for better results you should write the file to the hard drive of your computer first then copy it to a floppy disk or other removable media. The reason: the CPU can process files more quickly than the disk drive and it can't keep up, which could cause the disk drive to miss or garble some of the data!

    After you have created your PostScript files, check the conversion to make sure it is "perfect" by downloading the PostScript file to the laser printer, which will also give you the final hard copy the printer will need. Sometimes when the PostScript file is created, the slip of a finger can create files that output pages last-to-first, or as a composite when it should be color separated. This would not be apparent if the printout had been created from the application file, prior to the conversion to PostScript.

    Tips in the next issue: Utilities for Checking PostScript Files.

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    Printer's Ink is a quarterly newsletter written by Ned Thomson, president of Thomson-Shore, Inc. A hardcopy version is sent out to approximately 20,000, world-wide. If you are interested in being added to our mailing list please contact us one of the following ways:

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