Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Select a Binding for a Book

Not all book bindings are created equal. When considering a print project, it is important to be knowledgeable about the available options. There are three basic type of bindings utilized in book manufacturing - case, paper, and mechanical. The decision on what type of binding to use should be determined prior to a job being printed so that layout and design staff can make the proper accommodations.  
To guide in choosing a binding, the following factors should be taken into account: 
Trade and mass market paperback books (novels) generally use perfect binding, also referred to as adhesive or notch-bound binding.  This popular, soft-cover application uses paperboard or thick paper stock and involves gluing or adhering the text to the inside spine. With this type of binding, large quantities of books can be produced quickly, with lower costs, but the book cannot lie perfectly flat when open because the spines and covers are glued together. A perfect-bound book accommodates approximately 1500 pages. 

The most expensive (and durable) binding option is case binding. It results in a hard binding or hardcover book made from thick cardboard wrapped in cloth.  A trimmed book is bound by rigid boards (binder’s board, chipboard, pasted board) on each side and then glued directly into a spine.  A case-bound book is traditionally the most aesthetically-pleasing binding application, often used for coffee-table books, first-edition fiction, or collector’s editions of classics.  It accommodates about 1500 pages.

Mechanical Binding uses some type of mechanical device to hold pages together, typically with a type of snap-on mechanism, rod or ring.  Examples include:  
  • Saddle Stitching (Saddle Wiring) is commonly used for smaller documents, such as booklets or catalogs or magazines with no more than 70-90 pages and is stitched together with staples.  With this type of binding application, you cannot showcase the book on a shelf because there is no spine.
  • Plasticoil Binding or Coil Binding consists of a continuous, spring-shape, crush resistant material that allows a book to lie flat when open. It is appropriate for documents such as technical manuals, notebooks, and calendars. This type of binding is usually available in multiple colors.
  • Ring Binders are used for documents that will be assessed, photocopied, and updated frequently, such as a cookbook. Full color spines and covers can be printed for a professional presentation for a business. 
This video gives a brief overview of book binding.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Metadata and Book Discoverability

The jury is out on metadata and the book trade with the verdict that more is more:  lots of metadata equals increased book sales

Metadata is a book's DNA-the descriptive characteristics that are specific to each book, such as title, ISBN, formats, publication date, and price.  These core items are the basics for getting a book discovered online, but are no longer sufficient in an increasingly crowded web community.  In order for a book to be found through search engines, which is how most consumers browse for books, it is now recommended that core metadata be enriched or enhanced to include page counts, related editions, awards, prizes, jacket blurbs, series, media mentions, interviews, and reviews.  This shift in thought is precipitated by a move to a more consumer-centric model of book selling; book data that was once reserved for dissemination to the trade (librarians, distributors, and retailers) is now being used to guide everyday readers about what books to buy.  Online consumers are savvy and sophisticated shoppers, and it is crucial to provide them with detailed and accurate information so that a book title can rank high in the search engines, get found, and be purchased. 

It is instructive to view good metadata as part of an overall digital book marketing strategy along with blogs, websites, and social media. The adage "content is king" aptly applies here and a book's metadata descriptors are an important part of that content mix. The more metadata and keyword-rich content an author or publisher can provide about a book title, the better.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Federal Government and Book Selling?

The lawsuit by the Federal government against Apple and some eBook publishers regarding eBook price fixing did not alter the upbeat mood of this year’s BEA (BookExpo America), but murmurs of conversation were detected reverberating through the cavernous halls of the Javits Center. The “comment period” on this eBook case expires on June 25.  So far, the Department of Justice has received over 150 letters totaling 200 pages, and expects more before the deadline. The initial agreement between Apple and five publishers allows the publishers to set the selling price of their books that are sold in the Apple store (agency model).  In return, Apple receives 30% of the sell price, which is a very nice piece of revenue.   In doing so, the publishers agreed not to sell their eBooks at a lower price elsewhere.  Amazon wants to set the prices for eBooks, even if it is at a loss.  So publishers are now faced with breaking their agreement with Apple, or not selling their eBooks on Amazon.

The Justice Department doesn’t seem to grasp that the publishing industry is in a state of major flux due to the Internet.  Publishers are fighting for survival and authors are selling their own materials online - eliminating the “middleman” distributor.  Amazon also has programs that help authors do this type of direct selling. So why not let the publishers figure out which model works the best for them?  Why do we need intervention by the Federal government regarding book distribution?  This viewpoint was echoed on June 7 in a complaint by Barnes & Noble, which stated that any settlement “would represent an unprecedented effort to “become a regulator of a nascent technology that it little understands.” Antitrust laws are based on the premise that government intervention is needed to ensure competition, but the market can determine that without the government’s help.  We just need to be patient and let the marketplace work things out for the publishing industry. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Print on Demand - What Is Means for Your Print Job

The basic concept of  print-on-demand or POD is that material is printed when there is a need for the material, thus eliminating inventory.  For the most part, POD is a very good system; it allows publishers to reduce the amount of money they have in inventory for items that are not being used.  Print-on-Demand also offers the flexibility of customization.  More generic materials can be easily adapted for a sales rep, region, or industry. In certain parts of the country, the term PQN (print quantity needed) is sometimes used to describe the same system.

Some businesses utilize print-on-demand  in conjunction with "micro-warehousing"  where quantities of materials are stored for immediate shipment and then monitored through computer software programs that keep inventory levels at a set point.  This ensures that there is sufficient quantities available to fulfill orders as they are placed.

Jobs that are produced in the POD process are not effected by quality; POD is more a business model for how that print job is managed. In most cases, due to the smaller quantities involved, digital printing technology is commonly used for print-on-demand, but there are some products and quantities that lend themselves to other types of printing processes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Helping Publishers to Manage Inventory

In the “old days” before automation, publishers had to place numerous phone calls or engage in a series of email exchanges with their printer to order books, check depleting inventory, and track shipments. For those publishers who utilize the services of multiple printers, house inventory in separate warehouse facilities, and contract with fulfillment companies to handle customer orders, it often developed into a logistical nightmare. 

There are solutions available that can help publishers to control their document production and fulfillment efficiently, and with the benefit of cost savings.  Using a web-to-print software application, it is easy to: 
·        Place an order for materials directly online to be processed and fulfilled automatically
·        Manage books stored in inventory by establishing reorder points to maintain set levels
·        Link directly to current  inventory through a shopping cart connection on publisher/author websites
·        View pending orders, back orders, and canceled orders
·        Monitor  each order  in real  time with instant tracking and shipping notification
·        Obtain customizable reports

By implementing an integrated inventory management system, time-draining tasks associated with manual data entry are eliminated, and the headache of being faced with inventory levels too low to fulfill incoming orders is avoided.  When choosing a software solution, publishers should search for one that can be customized for their specific needs, gives them control over their accounts, can be accessed from any location, and is simple to navigate.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Distribution Basics

Completing a book is indeed a milestone for an author, but the creative portion of book writing is only half the battle. It's important to determine what the ultimate goal is for a new book. If plans are to sell the title in the marketplace, then an author needs to investigate the business side of the book publishing process, or book distribution.  For a writer who prefers to give away books as mementos for family and friends, to sell copies at the local bookstore or flea market, or to take orders from a personal website and ship from a home garage, distribution is not a major issue.  The option to distribute a book definitely offers several advantages worth considering, including: 1) increased awareness; 2) more accessibility; 3) more availability; and 4) a potential for greater sales.

It is actually in the best interest of any author to think through the distribution decision BEFORE a book is completed.  The author should envision the end result and set realistic goals.  When releasing a book to the public, there are a handful of large wholesale and retail channels that can be utilized, and each specializes in specific markets.  Amazon, for example, mainly deals with sales to individual users of their site, while distributors such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram cater more to trade institutions, such as schools and libraries. Understanding a book’s target market is a critical first step toward determining which distribution avenue is the best vehicle for a new title.

Most companies that offer distribution do so at a price.  Some charge a flat, one-time fee, while others use sliding scales per each sale, and some utilize a combination of both.  Each author must weigh several factors simultaneously, which involves setting the correct retail price for the book based on comparable material in the marketplace, as well as print production and fulfillment costs. Additionally, depending upon the type of  book distribution agreement an author selects, a wholesale or retail book sale usually results in an upfront discount off the book’s retail price.  Although discount percentages vary as per agreement, discount pricing is the industry’s standard practice, and must be a factor in determining the actual retail price of a new title.

The book distribution business can be tricky to understand and navigate. Every author should research the retail and wholesale distribution options available to them, and contact those knowledgeable about the subject, such as their publisher or printer

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping Historical Societies Earn Income with Reprints

Most, if not all historical societies have a backlog of information that can yield much needed revenue in these tough economic times. Over the years, societies have published town histories, event books, documents, journals, meeting records, and cookbooks.  Many of these publications are either out-of-print or exist in very low quantities.  There is a definite market for these cultural treasures, which can be reproduced and sold to the tourist trade,  used for research purposes, or even for pleasure reading.

With the new digital printing processes, and the ability to scan pages of previously printed works and put them into digital image formats, publications can easily be reprinted for profit.  For example, a book that was out-of-print fifteen years ago about "who was buried in the county before 1850"  has resulted in sales up to $1500 a year for one historical society. Real-life nostalgia articles on "how it was back then" can be reformatted as books and sold by the dates of the articles.  Fragile and fading original documents can be preserved and protected, and their reprints can be utilized for museum and store displays, or sold on-site at the gift shop, local drug store, or at special events. Documents can be printed as needed, in small quantities, ordered online,  and even fulfilled by an outside vendor.  

Historical societies can take the first step to uncovering overlooked and potentially valuable documents by conducting a thorough inventory of their books and documents.  The most important thing to remember when working with historic documents is to obtain clear copyright clearance before producing new materials.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Microsoft Buys into Nook Unit

As Barnes and Noble forms a yet unnamed new division for its Nook and college businesses, receiving some badly needed cash from Microsoft, we are starting to see the different lines in the sand for dominance in the tablet marketplace. This new announcement comes as both the Nook and Amazon Kindle continue to face stiff competition from the highly successful Apple iPad.  The partnership also is an indication of the direction that Barnes & Noble envisions for its book markets. By incorporating their college sales into this new division, the company is placing a high priority on the higher education market and the delivery of digital content to students through eReaders.  The college division is the first segment, but to be a leader in the digital explosion, the lower grades levels will most likely be a future emphasis.

Microsoft will also gain by having the software that will allow digital books to be part of their new Window 8 operating system, using a Nook application.  The electronic book market and the devices the digital books are read on are each hotly contested.  As the two bright spots in Barnes and Noble business are moving to a new division, one has to question where this leaves the brick and mortar mega stores.  Their merchandise mix has evolved during the last few years, and this trend will most likely continue.  Does this mean there might be some hope and a place for the smaller independent bookseller?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ISBN - What Is It and Why Do I Need One?

Thinking about writing a book? Thinking about selling the book that you're thinking about writing? Then it's time you started thinking about an ISBN number.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and it is required if you intend to sell your book at a retail store or through a wholesale distributor. If you give away your book to friends, or sell a title to an individual, you may not need one. An ISBN is like a VIN number for a car - it distinguishes YOUR book from all the rest. It is a unique identifier that no other book, in any other format, may have. It is yours and yours alone. 

This is beneficial for two main reasons:

1) Searchability - Any wholesaler, retailer or individual will be able to type your unique ISBN into any search engine. As long as the book has been registered with an ISBN, it will be searchable for purchase, or to obtain general information about your book.

2) It avoids confusion - Your title, "The Greatest Book Ever Written" is available for purchase, but searching by book name only may result in 100 or even 1000 books with the identical  name. How would a potential buyer know the difference, other than scrolling tediously through countless titles? With a unique identifier (your ISBN), there would be no question that YOUR book belongs with that ISBN.  

It is important to note that each different published format of your book (print hardcover or paperback, digital, or audio) will need a separate ISBN.  Your publisher can issue an ISBN.  For self-published authors, you can purchase one through, which is the official source of ISBNs in the U.S. 

Your book is unique!  Assign it an ISBN and it will forever be recognized this way!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Top Ten Common Problems to Avoid When Preparing Files for a Printer

Once you have decided upon a print service provider and you have learned the basic terminology that will help you to best communicate with your printer, there are some red flag items that you should AVOID when sending a printer your files.  

1.  Fonts not embedded in PDF or missing application files
  • If you send a printer a PDF file of a book or document, be sure to embed the fonts in the file so that the fonts will be viewed as the author intended
  • If you send application files (Quark, InDesign), be sure to include a font file
2.   Incomplete or corrupt files
  •  Check and re-check your files to make sure all the pages and images are included, and that the files all open correctly
3.  Colors that are not converted from RGB to four-color CMYK mode
  • When transitioning from the computer screen to the printed page, colors appear differently. It is very rare that a computer monitor will display accurately the colors chosen in your layout.
  • Our digital presses can convert RGB to CMYK, but with less than optimum results. The color may be represented inaccurately, or in black and white. For the best color quality, conversion is recommended.
4.   Black and White images in RGB or CMYK instead of Grayscale
  • If these images are not saved as Grayscale, the document will print with some color
5.   Images with too low or too high resolution.  A resolution of 300 DPI (dots-per-inch) is recommended.      
  • Low Resolution- A scan resolution that is too low produces a low-quality image. With a low resolution (72-100 DPI), images downloaded from the Internet do not print clearly.  
  • High Resolution - This increases the file size and printing time without increasing quality 
6.  Inadequate Bleeds
  • Without proper bleed, the image that extends to the edge of a printed sheet will show a tiny white line on the trimmed edge, which results in an unpolished end product
7.  Image delivered in the wrong file format
  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) - These file formats are great for photographic images on the Web because they compress the files, reducing the size. For printing, these file formats are not ideal, because every time the file is saved, color and detail is lost
  • GIF (Graphic Interchange File) - These file formats are limited to eight bits or 256 colors, and are best used for the Internet
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) or PSD (Photoshop Document) - These files form high-resolution images of digital pages, producing the best images for printing without loss of color or detail.  Files can be large, but are easily compressed.
8.  Missing Images
  • If images are missing, a blank or low resolution image will be substituted
9.  Wrong Applications used for complex page layouts (Word, PowerPoint).  
  • Preferred Applications are programs designed specifically for publishing tasks, such as  InDesign, Quark or Pagemaker
10.  Not supplying a Hard-Copy Proof
  • Submitting a Hard-Copy Proof makes it much easier to spot potential problems. It is best to provide a printer with final color or black and white laser print-outs along with the digital files.  Print-outs should be actual size (100%).



Monday, March 5, 2012

Six Basic Printing Terms to Know if You Want to Print a Book

1Bleed - When printing a book, "bleed" is a necessary design element to ensure that a book cover is trimmed correctly. It refers to the area extending beyond the finished (trim edge) of a document.  Bleed protects the trim edge of a document when it is being cut to its proper size during the final stages of the book production process. Without bleed, white edges would appear on a final document. Proper bleed area is 1/8 inch from the edge on all four sides of a book, which means that an 8.5” x 11” document with proper bleed would be 8.75” x 11.25”. 

2Trim - The trim size is the final size of a document- the dimensions of a book in its final bound size. 

3.  Safety Zone –The safety zone is a protected area 1/8 inch smaller than the trim size of a book. Any critical information, including type (text) logos, graphics, or page numbers must remain within the safety zone or these elements will appear crowded when the document is trimmed to its final size.     

4.  Crop Marks – These short little lines are found at the outside corners of each page indicating the exact trim size of a document.  Crop marks are an essential element during the bindery process so that documents are trimmed correctly.