Book Printing FAQ

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What are the different binding options available?

There are several different binding options to choose from:

  • Saddle Stitching: This is one of the most economical options and best suited to booklets with lower page counts. This is because the sheets are gathered, folded, and staples on the spine, and in booklets, with more than 60 pages the pages tend to “bubble” at the spine and not lay perfectly flat.
  • Spiral Binding: The pages are punched and wound onto a plastic spiral, this allows the pages to open 360 degrees. As the coil comes in a range of size this option is better able to accommodate larger page counts while still being a relatively economical option.
  • Wire-O Binding: Wire-O is similar to spiral binding, except instead of a plastic coil, the binding is formed with double loops of wire. This gives this binding method a more professional appearance than the plastic spiral, while still accommodating larger page counts and allowing the pages to rotate 360 degrees
  • Perfect Binding: Also know as Soft-Cover binding, this binding method involves glueing the pages together at the spine and wrapping the cover around this “book block”. This is one of the only binding methods that allows for printing on the spine. While most binding methods have a maximum page count, Perfect Binding has a minimum. The book block must be a minimum of .125” thick or else the pages might not glue properly.
  • Corner Staple Documents: Ideal for long documents that don’t require more complex or elaborate binding. As the name suggests, the documents will simply be stapled in the corner, and can also be 3-hole punched to be placed into a binder.

What is the difference between Self Cover and Plus Cover?

The main difference between Self Cover and Plus Cover is the paper that the cover portion is printed on. Plus Cover booklets have the cover portion printed on a different paper than the inside pages, whereas Self Cover booklets have the cover printed on the same paper as the rest of the booklet.

A Plus Cover booklet allows for special finishes and the use of a thicker stock on the cover, however, the cover has to be run separately from the insides. This makes Self Cover the more economical option.

What is the difference between sheets and pages?

The easiest way to think about pages is to think about a PDF document with multiple pages. Each page in that PDF document would be equivalent to one page in the finished, bound book. A sheet is what the pages are printed on. For saddle stitching, a sheet has 4 pages on it, and therefore the page count must be divisible by 4. For Spiral, Wire-O, Perfect Binding, and Corner Stapling, a sheet has 2 pages.

Do I need to include bleed?

Yes, booklets do require bleed. The standard .125” or 1/8” bleed will still be required on all edges, including the spine.

Are there special margin requirements for Book Printing?

For saddle stitch booklets, a minimum of .25” on all edges would be required. For Spiral, Wire-O, and Perfect Binding, these bindings require additional margin at the spine. For Spiral and Wire-O, an additional .25” on the spine is required for the punches. For Perfect Binding, an additional .25” is also required, so that no page content ends up too close to the spine.

Which program should be used to design files for Book Printing?

The best program to design books would be Adobe InDesign, as this program was specifically created to design multipage files intended to be bound in some fashion and has several useful features.

These include:

  • Facing Pages: This setting arranges the pages in “Reading View”, where the front and back covers are by themselves and the rest of the pages are displayed in pairs, the way they would be when the book is printed and bound. This is especially helpful for artwork that requires “Cross-Overs” or pictures and/or design elements that cross over the spine from one page to the page next to it.
  • Master Pages: This feature allows the designer to set up elements that appear on all or several pages. Things like headers, footers, page numbers, etc can be designed on the “Master” page, and the master applied to other pages so that they will be the same location throughout the entire file
  • Layers: This is very useful when designing publications that have several versions, but the majority of the content is the same. For example, a product catalog where all the product descriptions, images, etc are the same but there is different pricing for Canada, The United States, and Europe. The whole catalog can be designed in one file, and the different prices placed on 3 different layers that can be shown or hidden depending on which version is being exported. This eliminates the need to maintain multiple files for the same publication and makes sure that all of the content is the same across all variations
  • Export PDF Settings: InDesign comes with several PDF export profiles built-in, including one for Print-Ready Output. These settings can be modified and custom profiles created, but for those who are not familiar with these options, the default will work for most, if not all, print applications
  • Integration with Illustrator and Photoshop: Because all three programs are made by the same company, they were designed to work together. Photoshop or Vector (.ai or .eps) files can be inserted as “Smart Objects”, which means any time those files are edited with either Photoshop or Illustrator and saved, the Smart Object is automatically updated. As well, the Smart Object can be opened into the editing application from InDesign through the Smart Object interface.
  • Margins and Columns: These features allow the designer to define the margins around the edges of each page, as well as the number, width, and gap between columns. This makes it much easier to arrange elements such as text and images in a consistent manner.

If InDesign is not available, other programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, Word, CorrelDraw, etc can be used, the only requirement for the design program being used is that it can export a PDF file. However, most other programs, unless they are also designed specifically to create multipage bound files, will not have the same features as InDesign.

Why does the unit rate decrease when more books are ordered?

Because of the number of operations involved with the various bindery methods, there are serval fixed set-up costs. These costs are the same regardless of the quantity being ordered. When the quantity is higher, the fixed costs are spread out over the increased quantity and therefore the unit rate decreases.