Helping Publishers To Be More Nimble

offset printing

One of our many Timsons web presses used for print runs of greater than 1,500 copies.

It is difficult to deny the shift in the demand for printed products like books.  Companies in the printing and publishing industries are always looking for ways to insulate themselves from the dangers of over production.  This notion falls even harder on publishers as they shoulder the loss when books are unsold by retailers.  While Edwards Brothers Malloy prints books for all kinds of customers, publishers remain our core business and we constantly search for ways to ease the pain caused by uncertain markets.  As a publisher, what if you could maintain the quality and accessibility of large print runs without actually printing and storing thousands of books that could potentially never sell?  Or what if you could have all the benefits of warehousing thousands of books without all the drawbacks?

Storage and fulfillment can save publishers tons of money, especially if they don’t have warehousing space of their own.  Maintaining a warehouse has many direct and indirect costs that aren’t always visible.  These could include labor for managing inventory, insurance, utilities, equipment maintenance, leasing fees and other fixed costs that must be paid if books are selling or not.  Using fulfillment allows publishers and even individual authors to avoid these costs and reap all the benefits at a nominal rate.

Printing large runs for some types of books is a method that is in decline.  The market simply doesn’t consume content in this way anymore and publishers need a way to be more nimble and eliminate the risk of carrying a gluttony of inventory.  They also need a way to capture sales of titles whose demand is still there but too low to warrant printing large runs.  Advances in digital print quality and EDI connections have made this concept attainable.  Traditionally, publishers would have a title go out of print if demand declined.  Today with print on demand and virtual warehousing options, it makes sense for companies to hold onto electronic files and print books only when there is demand for them.

Edwards Brothers Malloy offers fulfillment and print on demand services to publishers of all sizes.  In many cases, it is incredibly cost effective to have books printed at one of our facilities and then have them stored and shipped to your customers when orders come in.  Our print on demand services enable publishers to grab sales that otherwise would have been lost because a title went out of print.  Our digital print centers manage millions of order that come in annually from all over the globe.  To learn more about our fulfillment or print on demand services, please contact a sales or customer service representative.

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Understanding Spine Bulk

calculating spine bulkThe most basic definition of spine bulk is the width of a book including cover material.  This measurement is important because it can affect design elements of the cover.

The basic formula for this measurement is stated as page count of the book divided by PPI (pages per inch).

If you have ever searched for information on calculating spine bulk, you have undoubtedly found that this formula should be used as a guide and there are other factors which can cause your book to be wider than anticipated.

PPI Allowances

When paper is manufactured, the mill that makes it will give each sheet a PPI rating.  Many mills also include an allowance where a stack of paper could have a higher PPI than was stated.

This simply means the paper could be thicker or thinner.  This allowance typically isn’t much however even small variations can have a dramatic impact on cover design.  For example if there are lines and/or other graphics that fall outside of the type area, they can be pushed over the edge of the spine onto the front or back of the book.

Most small variances go unnoticed but if you have an exact spine design pay close attention to PPI and allowances set by the paper manufacturer.  Your printer should have this information readily available.

Extras and Binding

In many cases, it isn’t just the pages and the cover that make up the final width of a book.  Items such as photographs printed on thicker paper, inserts, supplemental material or bound-in CD’s can increase the thickness of a book substantially.

The bind style of your books can also affect the thickness.  For instance RepKover or lay-flat binding can cause more thickness than traditional perfect binding.  If the design of your cover is heavily dependent on thickness of the finished product, make sure your printer gives you an accurate picture of how all elements will affect spine bulk.

While spine bulk calculators, formulas or a template for a book cover can be a good guide, you should always work with a knowledgeable customer service rep to ensure your specifications are met.

What challenges have you faced with cover design and the width of your book?  Has spine bulk ever been an issue?

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Color Matching in Book Manufacturing

book printingMatching colors from one printed work to the next can be a challenge.  Numerous factors contribute to why it is difficult to do this.  Some of the main culprits are the differences in output of  offset vs. digital printing presses and the various color systems that are used to produce images and graphics on paper.  This post will highlight some reasons why color matching can be difficult as well as some tips to help you understand what to expect.

Digital vs. Offset Printing Methods

One scenario where color matching is a challenge is when a book is re-printed using different equipment than before.  For example offset printing methods are much different than digital printing methods.  The offset process uses aluminum printing plates that transfer ink to a rubber blanket which in turn presses ink onto paper.  Digital presses use a laser process to image a transfer belt or cylinder which then transfers ink or toner from the machine to paper.  This electrophotographic method can cause the same mixture of CMYK or Pantone SPOT colors to appear slightly different than that of a traditional offset printing press.

Pantone vs. CMYK Builds

Regardless of what machine paper is printed on (offset or digital), recreating colors from the popular Pantone color process using a 4 color or CMYK process can be hit or miss.  Pantone colors are inks mixed as one solid color no matter whom or what is printing them.  During the CMYK process, layers of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and black are laid down over each other, a technique known as trapping.  In order to recreate a Pantone color using CMYK, a match must be built using some combination of CMYK.  Variations in press calibration and experience of the operators can also affect the final color.   Some Pantone colors can be closely simulated using CMYK but the reverse is not true.

Why Not Use The Same Process As Before?

Numerous factors contribute to why one might use a CMYK process over a Pantone one and vis versa. The CMYK process is better for images that don’t have distinct areas of solid colors such as photographs.  Pantone colors are great for printing things like logos or images where there are many colors to reproduce.  A printer may be reprinting a book produced by some other business that used a different process in which case the previous color may be difficult to reproduce.

Tips for knowing what to expect

All printers and manufacturers in the publishing industry deal with the same kinds of color matching issues.  By arming yourself with a little knowledge beforehand, you will be able to set reasonable expectations for your print job.

  1. If your print job has Pantone colors that must be recreated using a CMYK build, ask for a digitally imaged cover proof.  This will enable you to see how the color will actually look on your finished books.  Avoid looking at color proofs on a computer screen as this adds one more level of variation due to the fact that computer displays use a combination of red, green and blue to create colors onscreen.
  2. Use a Pantone color book to reference CMYK builds.  Pantone makes very informative color books that allow people to see what solid colors will look like as CMYK builds.  This is not a fool proof method by any means but it can give you an idea of what to expect.
  3. Have your books printed with a reputable and experienced printer.  While all printers face the same challenges when it comes to color matching, there are different degrees of experience.  If you take your job to a printer who has less experienced operators and obsolete or poorly maintained equipment, your results will not be optimal.  Of course it can be difficult, especially for novices to determine if the printer you are using is good so get references from others who have had a good experience.

Edwards Brothers Malloy has over a century of book manufacturing experience.  If you have questions about color matching our knowledgeable customer service representatives can help.

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ISBN’s & Bar Codes

What is an ISBN?
The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier assigned to every published book. It provides a standard way to identify books in global trade. On January 1, 2007 the book industry transitioned to 13-digit ISBN’s, phasing out the use of 10-digit numbers. An ISBN contains 12 digits that identify the specific book and one digit that serves as a “check digit” which mathematically checks that the whole number is correct.

What is a bar code?
A bar code is a pattern of bars and spaces which represent numbers, letters, or symbols, and is read by a scanner.  The “bars” in the bar code must be a solid color and should be printed on a white background. This minimizes the possibility of a scanning error. Bar code elements include:

  1. Quiet zone: clear area before and after the bars and spaces that allow the scanner to    establish values for the white space.
  2. Human readable content: the numbers, letters, or symbols in the bar code which are shown above or below the code so that a human can read them without the help of a scanner.
  3. Bars and spaces: the actual bar code, the combination of bars and spaces creates a code that represents specific numbers, letters, and symbols.
  4. Check digit: the number that is used to verify that the data has been read correctly. This number does not have to appear as part of human readable content but it will always be part of the bar code.
  5. Add-ons: additional part of the bar code made up of 2 or 5 digits. Examples: a 2-digit add-on could be used to denote volume number or series and a 5-digit add-on could be a price (starts with 5) or the owner’s internal code (starts with a 9).

Bar Code Key

Edwards Brothers Malloy can help

We can create a bar code for you and verify that it can be read by a scanner. If you have more questions about ISBN’s or bar codes, please contact your Sales or Customer Service Representative.

Additional Resources:

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