Production

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Once you have finished writing your book, designed your cover file, typeset your manuscript and completed the final edit, you are ready to go to print. 

Book production is complex, but we are here to guide you through all of the options and decisions. Please see a step-by-step of the entire process below, from estimating through to print and delivery ...  

Estimate

Once you have a final specification and know the size of your print run, we will provide you with an estimate. If you would like an estimate, please click through to our contact us page.

The estimate will contain all of the information about your book specification so that you know exactly what we are estimating for, accompanied by the cost of printing the number of books that you wish to print. Our estimate will include delivery to one UK address.

In addition to quoting for the quantity requested we also show a run on price. You may pro-rata this figure to calculate alternative order quantities. For example, if we quote for 500 copies with a 100 run on, the cost of producing 750 copies would be the 500 copy price added to 2.5 x the 100 run on price. The run on price should not be confused with a reprint price.

Customer Application Form

Once you have confirmed that you would like to go ahead with the order, we will send you a customer application form. You will then be assigned with your own account code which allows us to track payments, orders and deliveries more smoothly.

Invoice

We operate on a cash-with-order basis and the books will be printed and distributed once we have received payment. We will send you a proforma invoice to be paid, and an invoice will be raised once all books have been dispatched acknowledging any previous payment.

Supply Print-Ready Files and Purchase Order

Once you are ready to print your book you will need to send us your final PDF cover file and your final PDF text file (and if applicable, your PDF illustration sections).

Follow the links below for detailed guides on how to supply text files and cover files for print. 

Supplying text files for print                                                                                 

Supplying cover files for print

You will also need to send us a purchase order. There is a purchase order form that you will need to fill out with all of the book specifications and a delivery date. At this stage it is essential that all of the details that you input into the purchase order form are correct. We can send you the purchase order form or you can find it here. If you have any queries or need any help in completing this form, please get in contact, we are more than happy to help.

Pre-Press

When you are ready to go to print, your final PDF files will go through pre-flight checks before going off to print, to make sure there are no errors which may hinder the printing process.

Pre-press checks are essential and can pick up some very obvious errors that you may not have noticed. We do not check anything to do with content or design, but we check for the below:

For both inside text printing and colour covers we check the following

  • Valid PDF file
  • Fonts embedded
  • Images are not below 100dpi

We perform the following more in-depth checks for the cover on top of the checks above:

  • We check the trim size, spine width and bleed area
  • We check that cover title and text is no closer than 4mm to trim edge
  • We check that the cover colours are set to 4-colour CMYK
  • We check for any alignment problems with cover files:
    • If a special cover finish is ‘kiss fit’ we will offer advice as to how to minimise the risk of overlap when printing.
    • We will also check that finishing files align for spot-uv etc.

*It is worth noting here that our checks are basic checks and do not go into any further level of detail than above, unless requested by the author/publisher. We do not check for ink densities of images within the text file unless you express concern and specifically request for us to do so. If we ask you to resupply text and cover files, you’re definitely not the first; if resupplied within a day or two, it won’t affect your production schedule.

Conventional Printing

Lithographic offset printing (conventional printing) uses the principle of water repelling oil to produce images.

Before going to print, the data must be converted into plates:

For text plates, data is collected and transmitted to the plate-setters which scan the pre-sensitized plates and develop them for printing. A film of water is applied to the aluminium plate by the presses dampening system. The plates have a thermal sensitive coating on the plate which is scanned with the imposed images. The plate is developed and the areas with no-image are washed off leaving a grease attracting image area.

For cover plates, the data gets sent through to the plate setters and goes through the same process as above. When we print the covers of your book, if they require conventional cover finishes like foiling, embossing or spot-UV, your covers will be printed conventionally using a set of 4 colour plates; 1 x plate for Cyan, 1 x plate for magenta, 1 x plate for yellow, 1 x plate for black. This makes up CMYK colour printing. Every printer is different but we print our plates in the following order: black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Please note imposing the text file for print is the same for digital and conventional printing but we don’t make aluminium plates for digital text printing. The same applies for the covers, we don’t make plate sections if we are printing the covers digitally.

Text Printing

For text printing, the litho plate is wrapped around the press cylinders, one plate for each side of the web. The image rolls under the water damped rollers and the damp film is retained on the non-image areas. As oil repels water, the grease attracting image areas do not attract water. The image area is then rolled under the inked rollers and is covered with a film of thick ink. The image then offsets from the metal plate onto the synthetic rubber blanket cylinder. The blanket cylinder will then transfer the inked image onto the paper surface. The whole process repeats as the press revolves until all the sections are printed. Most books are printed head-to-head as this is a more cost effective method. The only time we produce books head-to-tail is if you have illustrations sections and want them in a specific place and the same in every book.

Conventional books have a tighter feel than digital books as the paper is short grain (the grain runs perpendicular to the spine).

Cover Printing 

In conventional cover printing, plates are made, the plates are wrapped around cylinders and the image area is rolled under the inked rollers and covered with a layer of ink and offset onto a blanket, black plate first, cyan plate second, magenta plate third, and last but not least, the yellow plate. The paper is sheet-fed in one end of the press and is fed through the press, passing under each roller, building the 4 layers of colour. We produce illustration sections (also known as a plate section) in the same way.

We will advise you as to where illustration sections can be placed as there are limitations due to the fact they need to fall between two sections on the book – we can advise you on this. If the illustration section needs to be in a specific place within the book then we may need to bind your books in a different way to the standard head-to-head binding method. This is only relevant to conventional printing because digital books are produced 1-up and are hand inserted throughout the binding process.

4000 + copy run lengths are usually printed conventionally.

Digital Printing

Digital printing (Inkjet printing) has smaller start- up costs and can therefore produce a smaller run of books more economically.

Text Printing

Print heads are positioned across the whole width of the press and each of the heads comprise of multiple silicone ink-jet with the paper travelling below. Water-based black ink is continuously pumped into these heads and the jets produce a fine stream of ink. The imposed data is converted into thermal pulses that disturb the surface tension of the ink stream and break it up into large and small droplets. The bigger and denser the imager, the larger the droplet of inks will be. In the non-image areas the jets produce small droplet so small and fine that they are “blown-away” by a stream of air the passing over the web. The larger and heavier droplets fall through the airstream and land on the paper to create the image.

Digital books have a different feel to conventional books as the paper is long grain (the grain runs parallel to the spine) which allows the book to open with more ease.

Cover Printing

In digital cover printing, the four process colours are held in ink cartridges, and runs with a photostatic plate charged with the image. This means that with each revolution, it is charged with the relevant image then wiped and charged again for each print. The presses are calibrated to print an image virtually identical to their litho counterparts and the image still offsets onto a blanket and transfers to the cover-board. The press can cope with one commonly used pantone colour, but most covers including a pantone colour will be printed conventionally.

20-4000 copy run lengths are usually printed digitally.

Binding

All printers are different but we use perfect binding to bind the majority of both our paperback and hardback books. 

Perfect Binding

After the text and covers are printed, both components will be taken to the binding line. Most books are perfect bound. The text sections are gathered together in the correct order ready for binding, then they are clamped together, 3mm is sawed off of the spine and this edge is passed over another saw to rough up the edge (exposing the paper fibres). We then apply a strong hot melt glue to the roughened spine and the cover is wrapped around the book block. This gives us a 2-up-head-to-head book block, not yet trimmed. First your books are trimmed down the middle, and then top and bottom to give you your finished book. Simple as that. We do this using extremely sharp guillotines, giving a crisp edge to your finished book. 

Once your books have been trimmed down to the correct size, they continue round the binding line, shrink-wrapped and packed directly off the binding line into either cartons (which gives much more protection to your books), or directly onto pallets in shrink-wrapped parcels.

Sewn Binding

Sewn binding is much more expensive but creates a more durable book. The book is sewn rather than glued and an additional liner is added to the spine before the cover is applied. The trim size will be slightly bigger as you are not removing any paper from the spine but we will advise you on this in the pre-press stage. We wouldn't advise sewn binding unless the book is a reference book with expected heavy usage, or if your main sales market is in a very hot climate, due to the cost implications.

Hardback Binding

Hardback binding is similar to the binding of paperbacks and most hardback books are perfect bound. The text sections are gathered together in the correct order ready for binding, then they are clamped together, 3mm is sawed off of the spine and this edge is passed over another saw to rough up the edge (exposing the paper fibres). A strong hot melt glue is then applied to this roughened spine and then your chosen end-papers are wrapped around the book block which is then reinforced with a spine lining. The book block is then trimmed and the case is then glued to each book. Optionally the head and tail bands are applied. The case is then rounded, the jacket (if applicable) is added and the books are ready to be shrink-wrapped.

Delivery

Once the purchase order has been processed, the payment has been received, and the data has been through all the pre-press checks for print, your books will be printed and it will take 10-15 working days for your books to reach you, depending on your delivery location.

Depending on where you want the books to be delivered, the order quantity and the type of packaging you have opted for, whether it be in cartons or on a pallet, will depend on what delivery method is right for you. We can deliver on pallets to your front door, but if you are distributing them yourself, it is more manageable to have them delivered in more manageable cartons. If you do opt to have them delivered on a pallet then you need to consider road access and how your delivery will be lifted from the vehicle, alongside where you are going to physically store them. We can deliver to multiple addresses but you will need to let us know so that we can process this within the estimate.

We also have a distribution service set up with Gardners, Britain’s leading independent wholesaler of books. Please click through to the distribution section of our website if you would like more information.

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