Table with many magazines including Vogue magazine cover with Rihanna on it's Cover

Be In The Know: Your Complete Guide to Book Printing Terms and Processes

August 3, 2021

Creatives from many fields in NYC are drawn to discover new printing options for their work. If you’re new to self-publishing, we hope that this blog post offers help getting your book ready for press. Book printing NYC-style applies to more than fiction, non-fiction, and the written word. Book printing covers art and photography, recipe collections — anything that can fit between the covers on a page can be turned into a book!

Custom bookbinding, booklet printing, and magazine printing are services we routinely provide for New Yorkers. Many of our budding writers ask where they can find a bookbinding service near them as an alternative to impersonal online printing options and digital self-publishing. While this article will focus on printing traditional books, much of the same information applies to other forms of bound media. Bestype prints everything, including magazines, journals, graphic novels, catalogs, and other types of periodicals and standalone projects.

Here are the most basic decisions you will need to make when you want to print a book.


What Happens When I Bring My Book to Bestype?

At Bestype, we make book printing simple. Your easiest options include choosing a template, covers, and paper types and letting our technicians do the rest. We will walk you through everything you need to consider during our complimentary initial project consultation.


Should I Choose Offset or Digital Printing?

You need to consider one important option carefully before making any other choices about your book: choosing offset printing versus digital printing.

When thinking about which method to use, it’s helpful to think about

  • how many copies you want to distribute (volume)
  • how soon you need those copies (time),
  • what color process works best with your concept (color).

Time — We typically need 4 to 6 weeks to produce a digitally printed book, not including handling and shipping time to deliver your order. Offset printing may take up to 6 to 8 weeks, including plate production and revision time.

Volume — How many copies will we need to print and bind? Digital printing is the most efficient option if you are printing up to 500 copies of your book. If you estimate that you need more than 500 copies, offset printing is your most economical option.

Color — Here is where your printing options potentially become more confusing. If you are using one or two colors throughout your book that must look consistently the same to the naked eye, we recommend offset printing. When key colors are essential in your project, we recommend offset even if you estimate that your print run will be fewer than 500 copies. Why? Offset printing uses the Pantone Color Matching System, which calibrates custom ink blends so that each page’s colors print true to your original concept. Digital printing is very close to matching offset printing’s color quality, but offset technology has the edge where color is concerned.


What Should My Cover and Binding Look Like?

Your book’s outsides are as important as the content within the covers. You have a few choices to make about what you want your book to look and feel like — how the format and cover appear to a viewer’s eyes and how the book feels in a viewer’s hands.

Book Binding assembles pages and secures them within a cover. There are many binding techniques that we use at Bestype, which produce different basic book styles.

Saddle Stitching creates booklets using either metal staples punctured through the folded pages’ middle or by sewing thread or cord through the crease.

Perfect Binding is what you expect when you handle trade paperbacks and other softbound books at your favorite bookstore. Covers are made from a heavier weight of paper stock, and the page sections are glued along the spine.

Spiral Coil Binding joins pages and covers using plastic or metallic wire coils. The advantage of this bookbinding method is that the covers and pages lie flat when the book opens on any page.

Hard Cover and Case Bound binding styles create classic hardbound books. Interior pages are saddle-stitched into collections that follow the order and flow of the content. The sections are glued along the spine. Hardbound books typically include a flexible hinge area close to the spine, ensuring that the book opens and closes easily. The looser the hinge, the easier it is to crack that spine so that the book lies flat when it’s open.


How Do I Format My Book’s Content?

A book’s interior is more than the words and pictures. How you imagine your layout affects your cover choices and binding options.

Orientation is direction. Do you want your book to open in portrait or landscape orientation? Do you want your book bound along the short or long edge?

Size can vary. Your book can be a small item tuckable into a pocket or handbag. Or, you can print a giant-sized children’s picture book, a map collection, or an art book using our large format printing presses.

Layout refers to your book’s text and graphic design — typically created using desktop publishing software applications like Adobe InDesign CC.

Extent and PP can be confusing terms, and we unravel the mystery. Extent is how many “printed sides” your book has inside its covers. PP is the abbreviation for “printed pages” and stands for the number of sides to be printed, but not the number of leaves (or sheets) we print to create a book. A leaf is a single sheet bound in a book and each leaf results in two pages. For example, a tabloid-sized 11″ x 14″ single sheet folded in half creates four separate leaves measuring 8 1/2″ x 11″ if you put those together in a hard case bin.

Stock refers to the materials that run through our printers and presses, including your cover selections and the type of paper you want to use in your book’s interior. Your cover stock can be board or paper and come in varying thicknesses. Likewise, your interior paper is available in many weights, colors, and levels of brightness. And for every stock, there is an option to choose varying percentages of recycled material.


How Do I Handle Color In My Book?

Your color choices depend on your stock selection. Unfortunately, not all stock plays well with digital ink — some paper finishes accept liquid ink better than other types. Your Bestype technician will help you choose the best paper to use in your project to showcase the detail and artistry in your illustrations and photography. We understand how to prevent smears and print bleeds before they happen by choosing appropriate materials that work well together.

Color — CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). Printers use this to refer to the ink and toner used in printing. Color printing depends on technology blending these colors to create different hues for any color image. Offset printing technology relies on the Pantone Color Matching System and human eyes to make sure colors are uniform in whatever project is printed. Most desktop publishing software allows the creator to pick their palette while working with color, using CYMK or Pantone colors. Remember that you don’t want to choose RGB (red, green, blue) when preparing your book, which doesn’t play well with printing. RGB is designed for on-screen viewing only.


Do I Receive Pre-First Editions?

Reviewing your book proofs begets a different set of vocabulary to navigate. Pre-first editions include galley proofs and advance reader copies.

Galley proofs, also called “galleys,” are draft copies of your book that are designed to be edited. They’re typically mock-ups of text and layout on paper and are usually unbound. Galleys offer a final chance to make changes to the text before it goes to press — you can confirm that the book is accurate and ready for printing.

Advanced reader copies are an option you can choose to create if you would like to distribute copies of your book to critics and buyers before your actual book launch.


Why Should I Choose a Local Book Printing NYC-based Service?

While hundreds of online services will produce the printed version of your book, there are distinct advantages to choosing a local print shop.

Time — Smaller printing houses typically have more resources and technology they can devote to your project. Less volume passing through their presses means faster turn-around time on your project than online printers and self-publishing companies.

Attention — Printing technicians also have more time to be available and responsive to all of your questions about printing your book. At Bestype, our printing and book production team members are dedicated to producing great projects. They will work alongside you to make sure your finished product matches the vision you have for your book.

Availability — When you print with Bestype, you can visit our office to check on your project’s status at any time. You can view samples that will help you design your book. We’re here to help you with production problems before they escalate into major errors that spread across your document.

Location — Bestype’s print shop is located in New York’s Soho neighborhood and is easy to reach by the A, C, and E Subway lines to Canal Street. We’re open Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM, whenever you want to stop by.


Are You Ready to Self-Publish Your Book?

Bestype’s printing resources have supported New York’s self-publishers since 1978. We also work with larger publishers and small presses to produce their books. We make printing your book easy, no matter how many long and dusty roads you’ve traveled down to become an author. Regardless of how many copies you decide to print, Bestype wants to help you beautifully print your books. And we can print your books more economically and easily than you expect. Are you ready to print your book? Contact us today for your project quote.


Image Credits: Freepik @Creative Commons

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