All the Rage
For Banta's Dave Schanke, customization is key to outputting end-products that suit each publisher's bottom line. It's part of a quest to marry production efficiency with high technology.
At Banta (www.banta.com), this market vice president of general publishing has a client that needs to customize covers for special projects. The publisher often prints a million books each press run with versioned imprints that may total a few hundred. Schanke says, "We have the ability to do a lot of cover changes in the course of a run. In a run of 800,000, 1,100 different changes are possible."
At Commercial Printing Company (www.commercialprinting.com), President Tommy Arledge adds, "In order to produce successful component and cover printing, you have to have a full-assortment of equipment." He suggests that a publisher shopping for a book cover printer best consult those with full-service printing and finishing capabilities in-house. "Full-service benefits publishers because it speeds-up turnaround time. It saves time and time translates into money," says Arledge.
Commercial Printing Company's Component Division is unique because three years ago, it developed a coating process called ELKote, which was issued a patent last year. "It's the ultimate in dull gloss contrast," describes Arledge. "After working with traditional matte lamination combined with spot UV-coatings, the company decided that our customers would greatly benefit from the ELKote process." In other words, alternatives to ELKote often resulted in scratched surfaces that made book covers look worn after handling. He says, "Books stored on shelves also appeared old or used with traditional dull/gloss production methods."
"Publishers love it because their books are durable and jump off the shelves," Arledge explains. "Someone's not going to pick-up books that look damaged. ELKote keeps them looking fresh and exciting."
To decrease cost, the printer buys in bulk. For instance, paper, such as metallized and cover substrates, that normally cost a small-to-mid size publisher more to purchase independently, are made available at lower prices through the printer. Arledge says that this pattern exists industry-wide. With the exception of a large publisher like McGraw-Hill that tends to negotiate its own deals for paper buying, consulting with one's printer can be the most affordable option for publishers printing covers and jackets.
Kelly Hartman, marketing manager of Phoenix Color (www.phoenixcolor.com), agrees. She says that Phoenix stocks all paper in-house for use on traditional and highly creative projects. For instance, Hartman says, "A year ago, we were doing a (Tom) Clancey job that required two foils and it was embossed. It had a 500,000 run and shipping that needed to be done in three days."
Besides adding graphics to covers in reprints, such as the case with Oprah Book Club selections, covers, she says, often come under the gun of last minute editorial changes, too. "We did the Kenneth Starr report and had three different covers ready for release," she recalls, depending on what the content revealed. "That Friday, the report was released and by Tuesday, the book was in stores."
Hartman attributes fast cover production to digital printing. She says that because publishers can view digital proofs of these covers more quickly, approvals and printing can be made. She also admits that UV printers speed the process by eliminating drying time that was once required to print over a foil. "Now," she says, "you can print right over a laminant with no drying time."
To appeal to publishers ranging from educational to trade, Phoenix is launching spot glitter this summer, which provides a glitter effect on spot locations for covers and jackets. Hartman says that since more publishers are delving into adventurous cover projects, being able to supply alternatives to foils has been successful. "We already have several jobs signed on to use the spot glitter," she admits.
Hartman also says that Phoenix operates under the assumption that starting ahead of schedule benefits publishers the most. She outlines the following tips for cover and jacket design, prepress and printing:
-Start communicating early. At Phoenix, Hartman refers to the sales team as "trusted advisors." She says that when publishers communicate ideas about cover designs, substrates and specialty additions are more accurately chosen with technical assistance.
-Get prepress involved. Publishers who use prepress houses turn-out more succinct projects when all parties are in communication. For instance, Hartman says that when prepress is aware of design goals established by publishers, workflow on complicated covers is launched more quickly, thus saving money for all parties.
-Ask for paper recommendations. Most printers stock paper in bulk in-house. When publishers use these papers and boards for covers, money is saved, thus leaving more room to pay for specialty additions.
The paper perspective
Whereas printing and publication specs often dictate end products, so do substrates. Mel Zangwill, president of paper board for Tembec (www.tembec.ca), explains, "Differentiation among cover stocks is about being coated on both sides," something on which he believes Tembec has cornered the market.
Zangwill says, "Most (book cover) products are coated on one side. Even for competition that offers what they call a coated two-sided product, it's usually 20-to-30 percent heavier." He claims that Tembec's paper is actually costs 20 percent less than most other double-side coated brands. "We make a coated paper board stock in 7 to 12 pt. caliper," he says. And the paper works well with foils, hot-stamping and embossing, as well as for UV varnishes.
He reports that because designers create covers that are printed on the backsides of books, two-sided printing is necessary. Zangwill also says that by producing lighter-weight, multi-ply sheets, the company doesn't use the same number of trees as other paper manufacturers do for these same jobs.
Tembec's Kallima coated cover grades also provide durable substrates with strong ink holdout. For instance, Kallima Coated Cover C1S Plus is a low-density sheet that provides smoothness to the print surface, a benefit for publishers that are using bright colors common in the children's trade book market. Whereas its Kallima C1S Blanks is recommended for high-quality offset lithographic printing that demands embossing, hot stamping, creasing and folding.
Tembec's cover stock was recently featured on Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis, published by Simon & Schuster. The Coated Cover combined with C1S Plus in 10 pt. meant that as well as holding gloss on top, the publisher could print additional content inside, such as reviews, as well as show an image of the author with a brief biography. API Foils (www.apifoils.com) also provides materials that work well with traditional and specialty projects, like Atalfa, a coating against water and grease that's available for both paper and board. And for many books, standing the test of time is a job considered by not only the authors, but also manufacturers.
-Natalie Hope McDonald
Book manufacturer Thomson-Shore (www.thomson-shore.com) says: "At least one week's time will be cut-off schedules (using PDF files) and the financial savings on an average book will be about $150. We have a few customers that have either eliminated bluelines entirely or see just first and last signature blues."