Best of PI - Top 10

Fall 1991 Here's a Printer's Ink Top Ten List

p>Two issues ago our feature story was about the application of desk-top technology to book design, editing and production. That was something I didn't know anything about and we had to send people out to gather the information for the story. The last issue we wrote about business philosophy, something nobody knows much about, but that we at least have a lot of ideas on.

For this issue it's time to write about what we really know about and something we've had requests for. This will be our idea of the best ten production suggestions we have made over the years in Printer's Ink. For many of you who have read PI before and retain what you read, this will be repetitive, however, our experience has been that a lot of the ideas in PI are forgotten over time and repeating some of the ones we feel are particularly important, will be worthwhile. So, here goes our own version of a top ten list.

  1. Trim Sizes: Sheet fed printing lends itself to specific standard sizes because the printer can only afford to keep so many paper sizes in inventory. the typical sizes most short run, sheet fed book printers keep paper for are 5-1/2 x 8-1/2", 6x9" (or 6-1/8 x 9-1/4"), 7 x 10" and 8-1/2 x 11". We can go from 5-1/2 x 8-1/2" down to 5 x 8" or something similar, at little additional cost, simply by trimming more away but if you go below 5 x 7", it becomes difficult to bind. Binding books on the short dimension (oblong) will roughly double the binding cost of an upright book but it does not effect the paper or printing cost.
  2. Paper: Most short run books are printed on white or natural offset papers and in 50, 55 or 60 lb. weights. White is about 20% less expensive than natural (though this per cent varies from month to month), white is generally a higher PPI (it is a thinner sheet thus it produces a thinner book), it has about 1% lower opacity but will reproduce a photo better than the bulkier natural. Coated sheets used for heavily illustrated books come in 60, 70 and 80 lb. weights, should not be perfect bound (signatures are usually sewn instead to keep pages from falling out) and are generally at least double the cost of the white or natural offset sheets. In addition, coated sheets take longer to print so press cost is significantly higher.
  3. Page Counts: This is probably our favorite topic in PI and one that, I believe, people have a hard time getting an understanding of. We'll approach it in a different way this time and maybe it will come out clearer. We usually print 32 pages on a sheet of paper. Thus, for a 320 page book we print ten sheets per book, fold each one into a "signature", collate them and bind them into a book. For 312 pages, we have to print nine sheets with 32 pages on each, leaving 24 pages still to do. We do 16 of those pages on one sheet, putting each page on the sheet twice then the final eight pages on another sheet, each page going on the sheet four times. Then we have to cut those last two sheets into eight page and 16 page pieces, fold them into signatures and collate all eleven signatures into a book. With this process and the one additional signature, 312 pages costs more than 320. That holds true for any page count that ends up eight pages short of even 32's. If you go down a full 16 pages to 304 that will be a bit less than 320 (and significantly less then 312) but not a lot. For 304 pages you have a 16 page signature but not the additional eight. A typical book that is eight pages short of even 32's will cost around $100 more than even 32's. That amount will go up as the quantity increases. The moral of the story is ... encourage your authors to write in even 32's.
  4. Blues: The purpose of a blueline is to check the accuracy of the placement of copy and illustrations on a page as well as the correct sequence of the pages. A blueline is not meant to be proof read or checked for printing quality. About half of our new jobs ask for blues. We suggest that the publisher see blues on any job that has illustrations that must be shot and stripped in. For non-illustrated jobs it is certainly possible to ignore blues altogether, or just see them of the first 32 pages. Full blues cost from $.55 to $.65 per page. We figure full blues add one week to a production schedule if they are OKed in 24 hours but in actual practice, our average job with full blues takes nearly two weeks longer to produce than a job with no blues at all.
  5. Cover Coatings: The last issue explored this subject but here's a brief recap. Varnish is barely adequate protection for a book cover or a jacket on coated stock. Film lamination or UV coating are better choices. They are both far prettier than varnish and they protect against scuffing. They are also more expensive, adding from about $.04 to $.1O each for covers and from $.O8 to $.1O for jackets. Film looks a bit better than UV but it can curl. Film is probably the best choice for a jacket. Matte finish is available now in both film and UV and this adds an interesting variation to a cover's appearance.
  6. Bindings: If you assume perfect binding costs $.35/copy (the actual cost depends (in quantity, page count and trim size) then a soft bound Smyth sewn binding will be about double that figure. Case binding will add about $1.25/copy to perfect binding plus $.12 if you wrap a jacket around the book. Plastic comb binding will add about $.50/copy to perfect binding, wire-o binding about $.60/ copy, plastic coil binding about the same as wire-o and metal spiral about $.40 more than perfect. Saddle stitching is maybe $.05/copy less than perfect binding but is usually limited to less than 96 pages.
  7. Split Binding: About 10% of the jobs we put into production call for both hard bound and soft bound books. Generally the number of soft (perfect) bound books is about four times the amount of the case hound for a specific title. To print and bind 2,000 6 x 9", 256 page soft bound books and case bind an additional 500 (without a jacket), will cost about $1,000 more than just perfect binding all 2,000 copies. Generally, on a split bound run there is no jacket on the hard bound copies. If you want a jacket, 500, 2color, laminated jackets would raise that amount by another $500 or more.
  8. 4-Color Covers: The preparatory work in 4-color reproduction can cost from about $500 to $1500 for a cover or jacket. The wide price range depends on hard to describe things like screens, reverses, traps, shrinks and spreads. In quoting , since we can't see your art work, we either have to guess at its complexity and tell you we will confirm the price when we see the art and show it to our color separator or else we quote it with you supplying composited, 4-Color cover negatives with the traps, etc. already done by your separator. If you want to supply your own composited separations (and save our mark-upon the separator's charges) we suggest you contact Verne Cook at Image Arts, They do our work, are reasonably priced, good and know exactly what we need. Their address is 919 Filley Street in Lansing, MI 48917. The phone number is 800-292-0431.
  9. Binding Cloth: The basic cloths used in case binding are A, B and C grades. A is the most popular and least expensive. B grade is about $.03/copy more for a 6 x 9" book and C grade (the least popular) is about $.10 /copy more than A. They all come in the same colors and look almost identical to the naked eye. The "nonwovens" or plastic coated (typified by Kivar 5) come in many shades and finishes. They are about $.08/copy less expensive than A grade cloth. The natural (uncoated) cloths like Kingston or Kennett are priced like B grade and are more difficult to stamp than the more common pyroxlin or acrylic coated cloths.
  10. Cover Proofs: There are three basic kinds of proofs for covers and jackets ... a simple blue, a color key or a chromalin. A blue is easy to make and inexpensive (usually about $10) but will not show which color goes where. A blue would not be used at all for four color. A color key is good for two or three color covers, costing about $15 per color, but is used less and less for four color. It clearly shows the color breaks and registration but will not be in the exact colors of the printed piece. A chromalin is now the proof of choice for four color but, since the colors must be mixed to match anything except the four process colors, it is very expensive for two or three color proofs. A four color chromalin of a cover or jacket is about $65 while a chromalin of two or three color art will cost from $120 to $200.

    Blues of covers and jackets are asked for by customers more than the other two combined on two and three color but for four color, chromalins dominate,

Well, that's it, Two hours worth of highlights drained from my mind, if you read and comprehended all this then you've picked up in a few minutes what it took me 25 years to learn. if this story, which required nine hand written sheets doesn't fill up the entire Printer's Ink, then I'm in trouble. I think I've exhausted every topic I had for this issue.

If you have any questions or comments about any of this, please feel free to call me. If nothing else, a phone call will tell me someone out there is reading this.

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