Crash course in putting togther full color printed book
November 23, 2004 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I have 2 days to put together a full color printed book, consisting of up to 20 double-sided pages that has to look as sweet looking as possible, but I know nothing about printing technology or what can be done. [MI]

Should I design the publication using pantone colors or CMYK? What dimensions should I design for? I am thinking I will design 8.5" by 8.5" because this project has to be done so quickly if all else fails, at the 8.5" x 8.5" dimension I can print out on standard paper at Kinkos or even on a standard color printer. This is a worst case scenario though. I would like the cover to have a strong cardboard like stock, glossy white maybe, with glossy white pages. It is an extremely short run, I need about 3 copies. If I design for 8.5" x 8.5", how much of all of the edges will be cut off? how far to the edge should I design?
posted by banished to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
Ok, I'm not a graphic designer but I worked in the printing industry for quite a while.

The most effective size to design for is 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 4.25. That's because almost all U.S. paper sizes are multiples of that ... for instance, if you need to print off at Kinkos, you'd print on 11x17 paper. Do not design with full bleeds; you'd need to print on larger paper and have the books trimmed or design for smaller and have the booklets trimmed.

What you need to look for, if you have a decent budget and need maximum slickness, is someone that has an Indigo machine. It's essentually a digital offset press that can do very high quality limited run printing on a variety of stocks. Moore-Wallace/R.R. Donneley is one company I know that has a decent number of them scatterd all over the country, but other printing outfits may have one you could get some time on as well. Call local printing houses in your area ... If I knew where you were, (*hands on hips at the completely empty user profile*), I could probably find someone that has one.
posted by SpecialK at 2:27 PM on November 23, 2004

Oh, usually "color houses" like Iridio (a subsidiary of RR Donnelley) have Indigo machines. Iridio's on the west coast of the states ... Portland/Seattle/LA.

A Docucolor would probably provide decent quality, but ... *shrug* It's just a big color photocopier, so you could get equivalent quality at your local Kinkos.
posted by SpecialK at 2:30 PM on November 23, 2004

Well, it sounds like you're doing this all at Kinko's instead of a printer, so you probably need to ask them. If you had a printer, you'd need to ask them.

Stick with CMYK since it seems like you're inexperienced, and really, Pantone comes in handy when you've got large-run budget issues or branding things to worry about. You're probably going to have to craft-store the cover yourself, which really isn't that hard once you start trying to figure it out. I'd make a regular print out and spray mount it down to thicker stock.

And I'd go for a 1/2 inch bleed in to avoid creeping, if you're going to saddlestich the thing. Other wise, really not that big of a deal what bleed you have.

On preview : My method is what poor Art students do to get by.
posted by Stan Chin at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2004

If I were in your shoes, I would find a locally owned print/copy shop and talk to someone there. I would avoid Kinkos at all costs. I was there a year or so ago, and they wanted $1 per page for color.

I had very good luck at an Insty-Prints about ten years ago, but I was also working for a company that was a very large client of this particular store, so your mileage may vary.

Maybe you should call the local shops, state your requirements, and not mention the quantity?
posted by bh at 2:32 PM on November 23, 2004

What SpecialK said. And use CMYK.

I'm trying to understand your deadlines -- do you really need these physical bound objects in your hands in 2 days? You are not going to get any press to respond to a 48-hour turnaround right before Thanksgiving for anything.

Also, be aware that you can't bind pages in increments of less than 4, so aim for a 16- or 32-page signature, whether you use a press or not.

For something requiring the binding you're talking about, you should consult some online resources about your DYI options -- there have been threads on this in AskMe before, and this one is particularly helpful to your case. Best of luck, but get ready to head to Kinkos (who have some high res laser output options that do have a nice, glossy, illustrated if informal feel).
posted by melissa may at 2:46 PM on November 23, 2004

I should have said, for the covers you are talking about, you are going to need binding, and if you want it to be perfect (in the printer's sense), you're going to be doing some gluing.

Or, if you can get a more reasonable deadline, the linked site might be able to help you. If not, they seem to have some good set-up information and explanations there for someone new to all of this.
posted by melissa may at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2004

As a designer who has done quite a few books, I have to go against the grain here. DO NOT stick with CMYK unless specifically asked. For instance, just about every big-box copy place (Kinko's, CopyCop, etc.) will take RGB files just fine. Switching to CMYK before output will reduce your color gamut, but most copier/printers (like they have at Kinko's) do this automatically, and more importantly, better than you will.

Design for the paper. 8.5x11 is fine, though you might want to cut that in half if there are only 20 pages. The problem is that good binding requires a certain minimum depth of pages. If you have access to a good design program like InDesign, you can save your book as a PDF. It's the easiest format to deal with, and you can specify the output resolution at generation.

Don't do full-bleeds because they take longer to print and cut down (if you have a little time, you can make the cover full-bleed). Usually the book will consist of a cardstock cover/back, and whatever paper you like in the middle. White is good. They'll offer you 20lb. paper for cheap -- if you have the money, get the heavier "Laser" paper. You'll know it 'cause it's smooth as a baby's ass.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:56 PM on November 23, 2004

Check your local phonebook or for digital printers that use the HP Indigo presses or Heidelberg digital presses.

Avoid Kinkos unless you're willing to struggle and do stuff yourself.

Some Docutech 12's will do full bleed at 11x17", as it handles larger paper designed specifically for doing full-bleed at 11x17" for trimming down. It'll also handle 80# gloss cover stock and other specialty papers just fine, as long as it's laser compatible.

The quickest and cheapest route would be to simply spiral or wirebind it, or even just a saddle staple or stitch.

Most short run digital print houses specialize in just this sort of thing - the should have a nice table cutter and binding options available - and they won't even blink at a one-off if they're a good shop. It'll cost you, but it might even cost less for the whole thing then the $1 per page for color that Kinko's charges. Though, a two day turnaround might be difficult, as one-offs generally get scheduled for "down time" between larger count runs.
posted by loquacious at 3:14 PM on November 23, 2004

Note that the $1-per-page color copying price at Kinko's is negotiable for runs of more than, say, a hundred copies or so. I've had print jobs done at NYC Kinko's locations for 59 cents a page, for instance. Talk to the store manager and tell him/her how many copies you need; ask for their best price.
posted by enrevanche at 3:49 PM on November 23, 2004

Thanks for the suggestions thus far. What about document setup? Say the document is 20 pages, should I design single pages doing 1-10 first, and then design the backside of pages 1-10 on the next 10 pages? Or should I design one page, and then having a facing page with the opposite side on it? Which would be easier for the printer?
posted by banished at 4:08 PM on November 23, 2004

If you are going to fold the printed pages in half and staple them along the fold (which is called saddle stitching), you might need to paginate the file. I'm sure there are better charts out there, but I found this one (scroll down to the bottom) at a yearbook site. Ignore the stuff about flats, since you are doing full color throughout.

If you are just going to bind several pieces of paper on the left side, kind of "report" style, don't worry about pagination. Just leave the pages in order to give to the printer. Kinko's coil bind is actually kind of nice for this type of job.

In general, you should get on the phone with whoever is doing your output and/or bindery, as several folks have mentioned. They will help you navigate the limitations of their equipment, which will determine a lot of your specs.
posted by whatnot at 5:11 PM on November 23, 2004

Japanese Accordion Fold is your friend.

Nice DIY potential. Pages, once laid out, can be printed on a high quality inkjet (ie: at home), with no significant imposition concerns. Unusual layout, if done with skill and care, can yield a really unique and impressive end product.

Maybe something to consider...
posted by Chrischris at 8:00 PM on November 23, 2004

« Older I looking for a code library that that implements...   |   Audio File With "Around Here, We Say PC Stands for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.