Best of PI - Misc 6

Summer 1993 Here is Almost Everything You'll Ever Need to Know to be an Expert in Book Manufacturing

Every now and then when I write Printer's Ink I think that I'm about to run out of subjects to write about. One more issue will do it and then there will be nothing left to say.

In this issue, I'll briefly cover every single topic that I can think of that pertains to book manufacturing and then in three more months, when it's time to do this again, there will truly be nothing left. We'll make this a real collector's issue . . . one that you will want to save along with your Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card.

To encourage you to save this (and read it), every subject will be brief and in alphabetical order.

ACID FREE PAPER: This used to be a big deal but it is very common now. Acid free paper will not yellow, it has greater folding strength and it should not deteriorate on a library shelf for at least 200 years. Virtually all book papers are now acid free.

BLUES: Always a favorite topic. Blues are meant to show you margins, the position of the copy on the page and whether pages are in order. Equally important, they are NOT meant to be proofread for typos or for the quality of the reproduction. They should be checked and OKed (or corrected) the day they are received. If not, your production schedule may be affected. About half our original printings see complete text blues.

CROMALIN: This is usually the proof of choice for 4-color process work but it is very expensive for PMS (2 or 3 colors) color work. This is because the PMS colors must be specially mixed in order to create the color. A 2-color cromalin may cost $125.00 ,while a 4-color cromalin is about $35.00

CLOTH: Case binding woven cloths run from A grade (the most popular) through C grade and then D grade or Buckram. A is the least expensive (about $.10/copy below C grade for 6 X 9") and they all look pretty much a like. The thread count is the main difference in various grades of woven cloth. Non-wovens, like Kivar 5, are less expensive. Kivar is a plastic material and about $.12/copy below A grade. Some of the paper materials like Papan or Permatin are a bit less than Kivar. A special cloth like Iris is $.25/ copy more than A grade.

COATED TEXT PAPERS: We do not stock coated sheets (matte, dull or glossy enamel) but usually order them by the job. Coated text paper should not be perfect bound but can be notch bound or Smyth Sewn satisfactorily. They will reproduce a halftone better than an offset sheet and are generally used in weights of 70 and 80 lb. vs. 50 or 60 lb. for regular offset paper. In general, their cost is about double the cost of a natural offset sheet and a bit more than double the cost of white offset.

COLOR KEY: Our proof of choice for PMS colors. A 2-color color key is $30. Color keys are also OK for 4-color process but probably not used as much as chromalin. Color keys only come in a dozen or so colors and will not match the PMS you want but they will show the register.

COVER STOCKS: We stock 10pt and 12pt CIS and 80 lb. white Vellum cover stocks. Because of volume buying, these can be used economically. The thing that is worth remembering about cover stocks is that the purchase of a single carton of special cover stock will cost from about $180 to $280. This is enough stock for 2000 6 x 9" books. However, if you are only printing 500 copies that makes it very expensive per copy. Cover stock for 500 10pt CIS covers is about $25. Some special cover stocks can be purchased in "broken cartons, " i. e., by the sheet ... but many of them can't be acquired in amounts below one full carton. The moral . of this story is ... for short runs it's nice to use standard cover stock and not specify "80 lb. Immaculate Star White Embossed" or some such thing that appears in a swatch book you saw.

END SHEETS: We use acid free end leaves for all case bound books. End leaves have high folding strength and will usually match the color of the text paper but in 80 lb. weight. There are also two major lines of colored end leaf, Rainbow and Multicolor. Depending on the number of books, the colored end leaves add about $.06/copy to a 6 x 9" book.

FILM LAMINATING: We now use lay-flat lamination (it does not curl) on all of our covers. At the moment we charge $.06/cover for a 6 x 9" book to laminate vs. varnish. We rarely varnish any covers other than journals. Laminating protects against scuffing, adds strength to the cover and makes it much glossier than varnish.

FOUR COLOR: In order to accurately estimate 4-color process costs, we need to have you supply composited, plate ready negatives or else show us your art work so we can determine the cost of making the negatives. If you just say "4-color" we could miss the prep cost by as much as $500. If that is what you do, we'll estimate for no bleeds, reverses, traps, etc. and then tell you the price will be adjusted upward when we see what you provide us.

FREIGHT DISCOUNT: This is a big deal with T-S. Like most book manufacturers, we negotiate a discount on freight bills by giving all our freight to one carrier. Our negotiated discount is 48% off the published rate. We then pass 90% of that discount through to our customer. Some of our competitors do not pass this on and they end up making more profit on the freight than on the printing. Or, they lower their original quotation enough to win the job and then bill so much for freight that their final price ends up above ours. That may be legal but I don't believe it's ethical. Ask your printer how they handle freight bills or else have them include freight in their quote.

HALFTONES: We scan virtually all of our halftones. This gives more detail and consistently good reproduction. We use 133 line for regular offset stock, 150 line for coated stock and 175 line if the customer requests. We charge $10.00 for each halftone.

JACKETS:For case bound runs of 1000 or more copies, customers usually specify jackets. On shorter runs or split bound jobs with 500 or fewer case bound, there is frequently no jacket used. To print and wrap a 2-color laminated jacket on 1000 books it would cost about $700 with each additional 100 being about $30.

MATCH PRINT: A cover or jacket proof similar to a chromalin in quality and price and used for four color process only.

MECHANICAL BINDINGS: Mechanical binding usually refers to a book that is trimmed on all four sides then held together with a mechanical device such as a plastic comb, spiral wire or wire-o (double loop wire). These bindings will allow a book to open and lie flat and they cost from $.30/copy up to $.75/copy more than perfect binding . . . depending on the run length and thickness of the book.

METALLIC INKS: There are now over 200 shades of metallic ink shown in the PMS book. They are tricky to print, are opaque and will not wet trap (print over or under another color) well. There is a $100.00 additional charge for metallic ink because it is difficult to print on the same pass as a PMS color unless the inks never touch each other. They have gained a lot in popularity in the last two years.

NOTCH BINDING: It is similar to perfect binding but a bit stronger and you can use it to produce a 6 1/8" wide book instead of 6" for perfect binding. Basically the spine is notched instead of having 1/8" ground off. It is the same price as perfect binding and is strong enough to be used on coated stocks for soft binding (instead of sewing) or for offset stocks for case binding. If substituted for sewing in case bound books it saves $.Ol/ signature.

OTABINDING: Something new in the business. This is a way to produce a perfect bound book that opens and lays (or is that lies) flat. It is about $.30/ copy more than perfect binding in a quantity of 2000 but still about $.20/ less per copy than plastic comb binding. We do not do it in-house at the moment and it is still pretty rare but it is available.

PAGE COUNTS: Nothing gets as much coverage in P.I. as page counts. We print in 32s, then 16s and then 8s. A 304 page book is nine 32s and one 16 page signature (10 signatures total). For 312 pages, it is nine 32s, one 16 and one 8 (11 signatures total). At 320 pages, the book drops back down to ten signatures, all 32s. Because of this, a 320 page book is lower priced by $50.00 to $120.00 depending on quantity, than a 312 page book. However, 320 pages would still be higher priced than 304 pages. Any page count that is 8 pages short of even 32s (152, 184, 216, etc.) will have a lower price if you add 8 pages.

PAPER GRAIN: Books should be printed with the paper grain running parallel to the spine. This is more important for Smyth Sewn, case bound books than with perfect bound, but it is an issue with all books. We stock papers with the correct grain for all standard sizes but for books binding on the short side (oblong) or books with nonstandard trim sizes, getting correct paper grain can be a problem. If the run is large enough (usually 2500 or 5000 lbs) the printer can get a special paper order made with the proper grain but the cost will be higher. It's a good idea to tell your printer that you want the correct paper grain used (parallel to the spine) on any non-standard trim size books that you publish.

PAPER PRICES: Also a popular topic. White and natural papers traditionally are priced close together with white about 10% to 15% below natural. This discrepancy is because many paper companies make white but few make natural. However, today natural is 35% above white and there is now a significant shift among our customers to do more books on white. For a 256 page 6 x 9" book printed on 60 lb. paper, white stock would save about $.18 / copy vs. natural.

RECYCLED PAPER: Here are the recycled sheets we stock. Thor white (Glatfelter) in 50 lb. and 60 lb. for 6 x 9" and in 60 lb. for 8 1/2 x 11". This sheet is smooth and good for halftones. Phoenix Opaque Natural (Fraser Paper Company) in 50 lb., 55 lb. and 60 lb. for 6 x 9". This sheet is medium bulk and pretty good for halftones. Huron Natural (Glatfelter) in 55 lb. for 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" and 6 x 9". This is a high bulk (372 PPI) sheet and is not very good for halftones. All these sheets have 10% post consumer waste and at least 50% pre-consumer waste, and pricing is comparable to non-recycled sheets, all are acid free.

REINFORCING:Reinforcing (case bound only) literally means putting a strong cloth tape around the first and last signature of a book and then running it under the end sheet. The theory behind this is that the book binding will be stronger and for a reference book with a lot of usage, it will prolong the book's useful life. Reinforcing is seldom done anymore. It is usually used on high page count (over 600 pages) case bound books and it costs approximately $.16/copy.

REPRINTS: We store negatives, without charge, for five years from the most recent time a book is printed. Having the standing negatives for a reprint saves approximately $1.50/page for 6 x 9" and $2.50/page for 8 1/2 x 11" trim sizes. Also, if you had blues on the first printing, you would save that expense as well. In addition, there is a $50.00 per color savings for reprinting covers and jackets. The production time of a reprinted book will be shorter by about a week.

SCHEDULES: During the summer when people take vacations and our incoming work increases, our schedules go out a bit. At the moment our normal production schedules are approximately 30 working days for case bound books with no blues, 35 with blues; 23 for soft bound books with no blues, 28 with blues. These times assume a one day OK on the blues. Usually from October until June these times are lower by about one week.

SHORT SIDE BIND: An oblong bound book creates several problems. First is paper grain, second is cost. For paper grain problems, read above under paper grain. The cost issue is messier to cover but for soft bound books it roughly doubles the binding costs. For case binding, it may add $80.00 set up plus $.50/copy (this is a wild approximation) to the price. Also, on oblong books we cannot go bigger than 10 x 7" because of size limitations on the case making machine. For oblong, case bound books bigger than 10 x 7 we have to farm the binding out and this further impacts the price.

SHRINKWRAPPING: To shrinkwrap in groups, we charge $.05/copy and $.08 / copy to shrinkwrap individually. About 40% of the books we print get shrink-wrapped one way or the other.

THREE PIECE CASE: Best sellers usually have three piece cases because it saves money. They put cloth over the spine to give strength to the binding then cover the boards with colored end leaf or Permalin or Papan, or something similar, to save money. However, in short run printing, the binder isn't likely to have a case making machine that handles two kinds of material in one pass so a three piece case involves an additional operation. This more than offsets the material savings. We charge $.06 / copy more for a three piece case as described above and $.18 / copy more if the whole case is covered in two kinds of cloth.

TRIM SIZES: Most sheet fed book printers will have stock paper and equipment to handle 5 1/2 x 8 1/2", 6 x 9", 6 1/8 x 9 1/4", 7 x 10" and 8 1/2 x 11" trim sizes. These are standard sizes and can be produced economically. Actually, 6 x 9" or 6 1/8 x 9 1/4" are probably the two most economical sizes of the five. If you have a book 7 1/4 x 10" that shoves it into the 8 1/2 x 11" trim size just as 5 1/4 x 8 1/2" must become 6 x 9".

Three hours after starting, I've written everything I've learned in 25 years in this business. If this doesn't fill up Printer's Ink, I may have to leave a page blank. Or maybe I'll fill up any extra space with some warm, positive comments about our politicians in Washington. That's a subject I can get easily carried away on but the people at T-S would probably want to impeach me if I printed my feelings about politicians.

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