Book Production Planning


Book production letter blocks


Book printing is the costliest part of book publishing. That’s why it’s important to consider each variable when planning your book production and designing your book.

Below are descriptions and tips about the basic components of book production and printing.

Our specialty book production includes board books, die-cut books, flocking, slipcases, and clamshell boxes. Our special effects include matte and high gloss spot varnish, embossing, debossing, hot stamping, and puffy foam covers. We work with experienced, award-winning book printers who are able to produce virtually any type of high-quality book printing you require.

We have established an excellent reputation for customer service. We take the time to learn about your book project, and explain all the options that are available in book publishing, and their relative costs—whether you are a publishing your first book or your fifth!

Size

  • Request a specific size, but keep in mind that a slightly different size may be more economical. For example, if you request a book size of 5¾ x 9 inches, we may suggest a more economical, standard printing size of 6 x 9 inches.
  • Choose an appropriate size for your subject matter and content. For example, a short travel guide can be a pocket-sized 3½ x 5½ inches while a cookbook with splashy color food photographs is best produced at 8 x 10 or 8.5 by 11 inches.
  • Paper is the costliest part of book printing, so a larger-sized book will cost more than a smaller-sized book.

Number of pages

  • Take your best guess as to how long your printed book will be. Keep in mind that a slightly different page count may be more economical. Books are made up of smaller booklets, called “signatures.” Signatures are usually printed in multiples 48, 32, 16. 8, and 4-pages . We will suggest the most economical page count depending on the size and type of book you are printing.
  • Paper is the costliest part of book printing, so a longer page count will cost more than a shorter page count.

Quantity

  • The more books you print, the less each book will cost. We quote on a range of quantities to show you the cost savings at different printing quantities.
  • Print as many books as you can afford, based on your current cash flow.
  • Print at least two years of book inventory.
  • The cost to reprint books will be less, since proof and film preparation costs have been already paid for on the first print run. However, paper cost increases and other variables may affect the reprint cost at the time of quoting.
  • Press runs usually include overruns—extra printed books based on 5% to 10% of your requested quantity. Less frequent are underruns, which come up short 5% to 10% of the requested quantity. Overrun books are charged at a lower cost per book. You will be billed for the exact number of books delivered to you.

Paper (interior)

  • Paper is the costliest part of book printing, so we help you choose the right paper for your budget. The higher the “weight” or thickness, the higher the price. The higher the page count, the higher the price. The higher the quality, the higher the price. The longer the page count, the higher the price.
  • Uncoated book (or offset) paper is a general-purpose paper we recommend for most book projects that do not include color photos or illustrations. Our most quoted weights are 60 lb and 70 lb. The higher the number, the thicker the paper.
  • Coated paper has a thin layer of coating. The coating helps ink dry on the paper surface rather than be absorbed into the paper fibers. We recommend it for books that need vivid colors, sharp photos, and accurate color reproduction. In addition, coated paper creates a more upscale feel. Most coated papers come in a range of glossiness. We recommend a matte coated paper for books to reduce potentially annoying glare for readers. We recommend glossy coated paper for photos. Our two most quoted papers weights are 80 lb and 100 lb.
  • If you compare the same quality uncoated paper to a coated paper, the coated paper will probably cost more.
  • If your book includes a small number of color photos, consider printing the text on uncoated paper and, separately, printing the color photos on coated paper as inserts to the book.

Covers

  • Softcover: coated paper, usually 10 to 12 pts thickness and coated on one side.
  • Softcover with flaps: same as above with front and back flaps that are folded into the book.
  • Integral: flexible cardboard (in between a hardcover and softcover).
  • Laminated hardcover: thick rigid board wrapped in a coated paper and laminated; book stays relatively flat when open; a dustjacket is optional; most common weights are 80 lb and 100 lb.
  • Cloth hardcover: thick rigid board wrapped in a woven cotton cloth (good durability) or synthetic material (less costly); usually foil stamping is imprinted on the spine; book stays relatively flat when open; a full color dustjacket printed on 80 lb glossy paper is wrapped around the hardcover
  • Endsheets (also known as endpapers or endleaves): 2 pages at the beginning and end of hardcover books, where one side is glued to the inside board of the front and back cover. Endsheet paper can be offset, colored, printed, or unprinted.
  • Lamination: a glossy or matte lamination is applied on top of printed covers and dustjackets for durability and livelier color. Special effects such as spot varnish and embossing are also available.

Binding

(putting the book pages together, then attaching them to the cover)

  • Saddle stitching (sofcover): book and cover are attached by three wire staples (often used for magazines)
  • Perfect (softcover): book and cover are attached by glue along the book’s spine, perfect for most books
  • Layflat (softcover): book and cover are attached by glue to a small strip along the first and last page; the spine is left unglued to enable the book to lay flat. This is especially helpful for cookbooks, workbooks, how-to manuals, etc. This binding is not recommended for use with coated paper.
  • Limp (softcover): booklets (or signatures) are sewn together, then the book and cover are attached by glue to a small strip along the first and last page; the spine is left unglued to enable the book to lay flat
  • Case (hardcover): booklets (or signatures) are sewn together then attached to endsheets (which can be plain, printed, or in different colors). The book block is then attached to the case/cover. The case around the spine can be either round back or square back. You can also add head and tail bands a small decorative piece of cloth available in many colors and styles—at the top and bottom of the book.
  • Specialty bindings: include plastic spiral, cerlox, wiro, and concealed wiro and are used when a book needs to lie perfectly flat. We consider cerlox and concealed wiro most practical as you can print on the spine. Bookstores need printed spines as most books are shelved with the spine facing out.

Inks - interior and cover

  • 1 color: printing in black or 1 spot color; appropriate for books with straight text and simple line drawings
  • 2-color: printing in 2 colors, typically black + 1 spot color; appropriate for books that have multiple layers of information.
  • 4-color: CMYK full color printing appropriate for books with color photos or illustrations; for maximum impact, we recommend book covers be printed in full color.
  • Lamination: a glossy or matte lamination is applied on top of printed covers and dustjackets for durability and livelier color; special effects such as spot varnish and embossing are also available.
  • Varnish: If your book is 4-color and contains many large, color photos, we recommend applying a matte flood varnish to seal in the color. Large areas of heavy colored ink may rub off on a facing page. This is more noticeable if the facing page is mostly text.


Proofs

Blueline or plotter proofs: low-resolution printouts of your book; enable you to check that text and all other elements have printed properly; they are not color accurate.

High-resolution digital proofs: CMYK color printouts of your book; enable you to see a close approximation of your printed book; even if you have color calibrated your computer screen, colors on-screen will differ from the actual colors in your printed book; note that color images take priority over all other elements when your book is on press.

Wet proofs: CMYK color pages that have been run on the printing press; enable you to see the most accurate approximation of your printed book; because the proofs are actually being printed with ink on a press, they will give you the closest idea of what your printed book will look like; 



Offset printing vs. digital printing

Offset printing uses ink that is applied to paper by rubber blankets imprinted by a metal or plastic plate of each book page. Quality and color are superior to short-run digital printing

Digital printing works best for 1-color books with press runs of 500 or less. The equipment is similar to laser printers. Color covers are usually printed on short-run offset presses.


We'd be happy to answer any further questions you may have about book production and book printing.

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