Serious about CTP
* Will the printer provide samples of CTP work done for other clients?
* What kinds of plates are used? How much do they cost? What is the plate's impression capability? At what run length might two sets be needed?
* What's the printer's usual dot gain for CTP?
* What kinds of page files will be accepted?
For example: Quark, PageMaker or FrameMaker files? InDesign files? MS Word files? TIFF-IT, PDF, PostScript? DCS 2.0? .ps (generic PostScript)? Scitex CTLW?
* What are makeready proceses and costs for CTP printing? What will the new workflow be?
* How much online storage capacity does the printer have?
TIP: CTP files can be very large; a printer who does not know the answer or who does not have gigabytes of online storage may be unprepared to route files internally without resorting to sneakernet.
* Will the publisher need, and can the printer handle, alternate trim sizes cost-effectively?
TIP: Consider proofing system page sizes and CTP plate dimensions.
Color Fidelity and Proofs
Establish ways to maintain color fidelity and content accuracy throughout the process.
* Is the printer geared more toward one-color or four-color CTP? Are the cost savings or workflow changes more significant with one or the other?
* What proofs will the publisher send to the printer with original files, if any? Will the printer accept the proof the publisher is currently using, or would a change be required?
TIP: Sending a proof to the printer for evaluation is recommended.
* What proofs will the printer send at what points in the cycle?
Proofing options common in book publishing range from preliminary black-and-white lasers to color digital proofs, and from page-at-a-time proofs to fully imposed pages printed front and back folded into signatures.
* How much time does the publisher have to review the proofs? Are they meant to be color-accurate? Are they halftone or continuous tone?