One of the more interesting items of information the "system" gives us is something called profit by product line. Since all we do is print books, the the machine was challenged to come up with very many products but one of the breakdowns was books printed from "customer supplied negatives".
In some cases this means individual, loose negatives that we opaque and strip but the large majority are stripped negatives from a book that was previously printed by another printer.
At one time I was under the impression that any book printer could take any other book printer's stripped negatives and print them with no problems. All the publisher needed to do was tell any printer he asked to quote that the negatives existed and then everyone had an equal opportunity to do the reprint.
It turns out that that is virtually never the case because of the following reasons.
When we are asked to bid on a reprint using someone else's negatives, we prefer to just photograph a copy of the book unless: (1) The first printing was done in Ann Arbor or, (2) the job had halftones.
If the first printing was done outside Ann Arbor and contained halftones, we would decline to bid. If it was done outside Ann Arbor but did not contain halftones, we would bid but would use the printed book as camera copy and ignore the negatives. If the first printing was done in Ann Arbor, I would assume we could use the existing negatives but would add about $.50/page to our usual reprint price to cover time for adapting the negatives to fit our circumstances.
Unfortunately this tale has a somewhat negative tone because it describes something that printers have, I believe, traditionally goofed on. We typically give too much credit for the use of someone else's negatives.
No two printers are going to lay out a job in exactly the same way, and negatives are not as interchangeable as publishers have been led to believe. This is getting more pronounced every day and now with the advent of computerized plate making (like the Rachwal Super 70 that does not even use page negatives), it's going to be a still bigger problem in the future.
If you ask for bids on a reprint with negatives standing somewhere, I believe your best alternative would be to identify who the last printer was. That will give the new person who is bidding on your job an idea of what he would have to work with, and he can react accordingly. Just saying on the quote request that negatives exist doesn't really tell the printer enough to let him bid accurately.
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Here's our effort at explaining when you should be concerned about bleeds. A bleed into the bind or gutter is never a problem. That area never falls on the outside of the sheet so it is of no concern to the printer.
If your book is undersized, say 5 x 8" or 8 x 10", there is also no problem with bleeds since the standard sheet is larger than it needs to be for those undersized trim sizes and you don't need to print to the edge of the sheet to get a page to bleed.
However, if your book is to be "full" size and has pages that bleed at the top, bottom or outer edge, that bleed may fall on the outside of the sheet where the grippers on the press do not allow printing.
Fortunately, in sheet fed printing of a typical 32 page signature, there are only eight page edges (out of a total of 128 possible edges) that fall in this nonprintable area. And, if there are only one or two bleeds in a signature that fall on these problem edges, we can change the signature's imposition to move them elsewhere on the sheet. Thus, if you have only a few bleeds spread throughout the book, the printer can accommodate them with very little problem. However, if you have many bleeds that are concentrated in a relatively few pages and you want a full, standard trim size, then your printer can't handle the bleeds without additional expense. "Problem bleeds" can be handled by either running a larger sheet for that signature or putting it through the press twice, once to print half the pages then turning it around to do the second half.
Unfortunately, because of different kinds of press equipment and folding impositions, we can't tell you exactly which pages will cause the problem. We can say that if there are only a few bleeds it is not a problem, bleeds on undersized books are not a problem and bleeds into the bind are not a problem.
If your copy has very many bleeds that aren't covered above, it's best to tell your printer where they fall so he can quote your job correctly.
How's that for being specific?
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