Volume 14 Issue 3

Table of Contents:

Here's an update of things that are happening now in Electronic Prepress

The pace of new developments in electronic prepress at T-S is accelerating. While nearly 70% of our new jobs now come in on files, the opportunities this technology presents to the publisher are broadening and the chances to save money, increase production speed and get the highest possible quality are improving almost daily. Here is a rundown on the latest information on subjects we think you should know about:

PDF Files: We are receiving PDF text files on a daily basis now and are very happy with the results. There are a few typesetters we receive work from regularly that now submit files in PDF. Our own guidelines for creating and supplying PDF files are now available on our website, via fax or mail.

To create PDF files you must first create a good PostScript file, then you can convert it to PDF. This is an extra step but it gives the publishers the PDF benefits of having a very small file size (from 1/10 to 1/100th the size of PostScript), and all fonts and graphics should be contained in the file. Best of all the file is fully viewable on screen with everything in place. PDF is also platform independent so it can run on PC, Mac or Unix and easily crosses platforms. PDF files are far less complex than PostScript and offer some RIPping advantages for the printer once output devices can interpret the PDF code without converting it back into PostScript.

If you'd like to take advantage of PDF, we're ready for you. Give Laurie Briegel a call at T-S if you would like more information.

Direct to plate: We are currently doing about 10% of our new incoming jobs using direct to plate technology. If you receive our new proof type, called a digital blueline, it would be an indication that we are outputting the text on our platesetter.

The digital blueline (DBL) is a low resolution (300 dpi) proof. The proof goes to the customer in signature form but it is not trimmed to the exact final trim size. The key advantage is that it is RIPped using the same software that will make the plates. The digital blueline is black instead of blue and is sent along with a guideline that explains its features. The customers that have received DBLs thus far have been pleased with the proof. If you receive a digital blueline we would be happy to hear your comments.

At the moment, direct to plate does not produce any cost savings because, while the negative is eliminated, the plate is very expensive, thus depleting the savings from not having a negative. However, we feel it is only a matter of time before plate costs come down and by then we'll be experienced with this technique and can offer you a lower price if your work is in the appropriate form and is suited for this process.

Creation of a composition department: This is just in the planning stage and may never get off the ground, depending to a large degree on how customers respond to the idea, but here it is.

This consists of offering assistance to customers who have "basketcase" type jobs. This is probably better described as jobs that come in as camera ready with copy from many sources, (not all of the same size) or files that are not even close to being usable. In the past we've sometimes returned these to the customer as they were not "ready to shoot." This didn't always make the customer very happy and also interrupted their production schedule.

In this department we would, for a charge, get these jobs into a print ready form. At that point we could provide a schedule and put the job into production. Please email laurieb@tshore.com with any ideas or concerns.

EP Discount Program: For two years now we have been offering customers a $.30/page discount if text work comes into us as a "error free file": We prefer to receive files instead of camera ready copy because of higher output quality and the savings from electronic imposition of the page negatives. We have a list of approximately 40 independent typesetters who we have worked closely with and if your work comes from any one of them you automatically received the discount.

While many of these jobs come to us in either PostScript or PDF, we still get the majority of our work as application files which then have to be converted into PostScript. In order to encourage getting work electronically we have always done this conversion step at no charge even though it does use both time and equipment on our part.

Our plan at the moment is by the end of this year we will eliminate the $.30/page credit if we have to do the PostScript conversion at Thomson-Shore.

To convert application files to PostScript you use the print options in the page layout software to create the file. The tricky part about making PostScript is to have the computer configured exactly as the machine that created the file. We have guidelines here at T-S, for the common programs, that will steer you through this conversion.

To check integrity of a PostScript file you can use Acquired Knowledge's Download Mechanic. This utility is available for the Mac and PC platform. Or if you are a Mac user we can provide you with a demo CD of QuickCheck 1.0 which is a mini version of Download Mechanic.

For those of you that want to take advantage of PDF you can use Acrobat Distiller to convert your files. Once your PDF is created you can use Acrobat Reader or Exchange to view and print it.

We also recommend that you print your laser proofs from what ever file format you intend on supplying. If you are providing PostScript then download the file to print the lasers. Print your PDF files after you have viewed them.
Using a statement from John Doherty from G&S Typesetters, "Lasers printed from the actual print file are the proof, not suggestions".

PreQualified Typesetter list: In order to speed things up on our end we are going to ask our PreQualifed Typesetters to provide us files that are completely digital and in either PostScript or PDF formats. We will likely start a new listing of typesetters that are willing to help the customer understand how to get their text integrated into a digital format. One of the challenges here are illustrations. If you want us to do the scanning . . . and we recommend this . . . we'll return both high and low resolution scans for the file creator to include in the file. We will be offering the PreQualified Typesetters the opportunity to buy the scans from us directly, or you can send them in as a "p-file" to have the scanning done in advance.

In the future we will be handling "p-files" by returning the scans to you on a CD ROM. Once we burn the CD and it is safely delivered, we would remove the scans from our server. At this point we would no longer have an archive of the scans, thus saving vast amounts of storage space on our system. The file creator can easily transfer either the low res or the high res scans to their job files. Depending on the page layout application they may be able to take advantage of our OPI system when it comes time to create the PostScript. There will be guidelines on the CD to indicate when this will be appropriate.

When it is time for outputting, if there are high resolution scans embedded in the PostScript/PDF file, there would be no need to return the CD. If OPI is used, we would need the CD returned so we can copy the high resolution files onto our server for swapping. The CD then would be returned to the customer to archive indefinitely if they want to.

Hopefully our PreQualifed Typesetters will embrace this challenge and help us to receive fully integrated PostScript or PDF files.

On Site Training: In early 1999 T-S is planning to host (in Dexter) the next edition of our EP training program that was put on in eight different cities in the last two years. And, it will be expanded to cover a lot more areas, taking advantage of all the facilities that we have here in the plant. The things we'll likely offer will be:

  1. A short course on doing your own scanning, (we don't recommend your doing halftone scanning as it is a highly skilled task but if you're determined to try, we'll try to help).
  2. How to create PostScript or PDF files.
  3. The basics of creating an output ready document from a page layout program.
  4. How to create you own website.
  5. Hands-on file clinic.
  6. Understanding printing and binding options, making a paper selection . . . and much, much more.

Actually at this point since all this is just a figment of our imagination, we'd be happy to hear any additional suggestions, questions or comments you might have.

The program would likely be a couple days long and you could pick the workshops you'd like to attend since there will be a bit too much to cover everything in the time we'd have.

Well . . . there you have it, everything that's going on in EP.

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Thanks to all the people who responded to my story about locating a pair of Mute Swans. Because of your suggestions I now have this figured out and the lake behind our home in Arizona should have a pair of Mute Swans come December . . . adding a bit of class to the entire Phoenix area.

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Paper pricing continues to be a relatively benign factor in book manufacturing. Natural paper prices have not moved in over six months while white, which is about 18% below natural, has gone down approximately 2% in the past three months.

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In order to achieve very dense black solids when they are called for on a book cover or jacket, we put a 60% screen of a second color behind the solid black image. When the cover is 4-color we use CYAN as the back up color. If the color is black only, we use a second black plate (since we run all of our covers and jackets on 4-color presses, we have the capacity to do this and our only additional cost is making the extra plate . . . and we absorb this cost). So, if you're surprised by the density we achieve with black solids, now you know the reason.

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T-S is currently considering holding an electronic prepress seminar in Dexter, likely in early '99. If we do this we would include more than just EP on the agenda since we'd have the facilities of the entire plant at our disposal but the emphasis would still be on helping the people who attend learn the capabilities of electronic prepress (for covers and jackets as well as for text copy) and how you could best make use of it. We would also cover how you should go about getting ready for the time when you'll want the printer to go direct from file to plate . . . bypassing the negative altogether. We have the capability to go direct to plate now and are actually doing it daily on some jobs, with very good results. The likely content of this proposed seminar is covered more completely in the cover story.

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On our Internet site, www.tshore.com, we have recently received quote requests from the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, Israel and Japan. Several of these have already turned into actual jobs. I always knew computers and high tech stuff would be a real boon to business. For those T-S customers who have Internet access but have yet to visit our site, you can find a picture plus a personally written profile of all the T-S people who have direct contact with you as well as a lot of other stuff about book manufacturing.

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The trend toward matte lamination on covers and jackets continues (though matte is still only about one third as popular as gloss) and with this increase comes the need to again remind you that matte lamination does affect colors. Matte lamination tends to make color appear less bright and it affects some colors more than others. It can actually change the shade of a color noticeably. If matte goes over a metallic ink, the metallic effect will be largely gone.
For the English majors out there, did I use effect and affect properly here? I am painfully aware that I screwed them up in the last issue.

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I have been told that T-S is virtually completely compliant with the year 2000 requirements. So, if the entire world goes down the tube and there is rioting in the streets, it won't be our fault.

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One of the biggest impediments to the printer meeting a production schedule they give the publisher is when the entire job (text, cover, illustrations, etc.) and the job's specifications do not come in at the same time. This has been a problem for as long as I've been in the business and it will likely still be a problem long after I'm gone but if I've ever passed on a valuable tip to you, it's about trying to get everything to your printer in one nice, complete package. If this happens, the printer is going to jump on your job quickly and give you the best possible response. You can pass this inside tip on to your friends and they'll be forever in your debt.

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PC Files Still Present A Problem

If a customer supplies PostScript files from Windows 95, PageMaker, those can be electronically imposed successfully and will generally qualify for our $.30/page discount for supplying error free files. If the files come from Ventura, FrameMaker or QuarkXPress for Windows 95 they are apt to be unaccepted by our imposition software. We have a utility that will clean up buggy PostScript, but if this is unsuccessful we will have to output single page negatives to be stripped by hand.

However . . . if the file is converted into PDF then the potential for problems lessen. Our imagesetter doesn't care how the file was originally created if all it sees is PostScript generated from the PDF. So . . . we believe that the most reliable way to create imposable files (and qualify for our $.30/page discount and speed up production) from a PC is to do your own PostScript to PDF conversion before sending the file in.

About 20% of the files we are currently receiving were originally done on a PC and about 10% of that 20% turn out to be unimposable.

Windows 98 is out there now, we recommend you wait before upgrading to this operating system.

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1997 & 1998

The Association of American University Presses Annual Book Show has come and gone and T-S printed and bound 19 out of 34 winning "typographic" books in the 1997 show. The next highest number by a single printer was five. We also printed three of the 15 illustrated book winners and were the only printer doing more than one.

For 1998, we printed and bound 16 out of the 36 winning entries with the next highest number by a single printer being six.

Obviously the book design is the single most important factor in determining winning entries in the AAUP Book Show but the production has to be at the highest level as well. It is, I believe, very rewarding that in a market such as the University Press market which is particularly quality conscious, we are the printer and binder of half of the books they deemed to be the best designed and produced in the past two years.

Actually, for many years we have led all printers in this competition but we never before had numbers this large.

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Advice on Scanning Illustrations

In our Customer Satisfaction Survey we've had two requests for help or advice on preparing illustrations for printing when you're using electronic prepress.

Well basically, if you are having your printer do the scanning, all your printer should need, or at least all T-S needs, is instructions on positioning, page number, sizing and cropping instructions of your photo or artwork and the stock it is printing on.

However, if you are planning on doing your own scans, then there are different parameters.

First, any line illustrations should be done at 1200 dpi. Scanned line illustrations could create a very large file size and this could, in some cases, bring on an added prepress charge for additional output time. Line illustrations should cause you fewer concerns than halftones if you're doing them yourself as there is less to go wrong however, halftones are more difficult to scan and achieve a satisfactory result. We actually don't recommend you scan halftones yourself as it is not easy to do well.

All of the illustrations you scan yourself should be placed, positioned, and cropped then embedded in your file.

Lastly, for all illustration scans that are embedded in your files, we make a charge of $1.00 per illustration to compensate for a minimum of additional processing time that we will have.

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PreQualified Typesetter Update

MacKey Composition
Jamie McKee
144 E. 9th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Ph: 616.395.6039 Fax: 616.395.6040

Now here are some updates for typesetters currently in the program.

BookComp/Photo Composition has moved to:
Riverview Center
678 Front Street N.W., Suite 158
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Ph: 616.774.9700 Fax: 616.774.4445

Zeko Graphics has changed their name to :
Coleridge Design & Imaging
1142 Booth
Kansas City, KS 66103
Ph: 913.342.1300 Fax: 913.342.5300

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Common Problems Encountered in EP Jobs

Perhaps it's an overstatement to say that there are "common" problems with EP jobs because, by and large these jobs are coming into T-S with no problems. As a matter of fact, close to 90% of all incoming jobs where the text copy comes in file form are receiving our $.30/page discount and that's a good indicator of the overall decline to file problems. However, there is still some room for improvement so here is an up-to-date listing of potential EP file problems you should be aware of.

Paperwork: On a small percentage of EP jobs, we still receive no paperwork what-so-ever. We have an "EP Data Sheet" which we need the customer to fill out and if we don't receive it with the file, we fax it to the customer and ask them to fill it out. Before we proceed with the job we have to know the computer platform the file was prepared on, the operating system that was used, the software application and version that was used for layout, graphics and illustrations, the fonts used, whether any art is live, OPI or for position only, and a file directory. We also need the latest same size laser proofs with trim marks or else a written indication of the margins you want.

Fonts: There are still occasional problems with either missing screen or printer font files or, in some cases, we receive a different version of a font than was used in the document and as a result, the text reflows. Incorrect use of style attributes is a second font problem that sometimes occurs. This can create a font that the imagesetter does not have access to.

Cover and Jacket Dimensions: We often receive files where the spine bulk is incorrect and must be changed or where other dimensions have not been setup correctly. We have layout diagrams for both covers and jackets, which we'll be glad to give you to help you avoid this. We can also provide you with a spine bulk program (which you can download directly off our internet web site) for Windows users. Cover and jacket files should always be setup as a one page document that contains cover 1, spine, and cover 4 . . . and the flaps if it's a jacket. If we have to piece together two or more pages, the possibility for errors increases.

Bouncing Elements: Running head/feet and page numbers that do not properly align on facing pages or do not properly backup to the page on the reverse side of the sheet are also found on some jobs. This does not prevent us from producing the book, but unless it's fixed, it prevents us from producing a book that is up to the quality standards we'd like to achieve. Typesetters have the tools they need, whether on desktop or proprietary systems, to align all elements to the thousandth of an inch. All we ask is that they align to 1/64th of an inch, so this shouldn't be a problem for them.

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PI Information

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 addresses, 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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