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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Book Printing: Thoughts on Creating Nested Booklets

A print brokering client of mine came to me with an idea for a marketing promotion. It involved custom printing a 7” x 10” booklet that included a smaller, 6” x 9” booklet tipped into the print book.

She planned to produce the larger booklet as a 12-page self-cover, saddle-stitched item and the smaller booklet as an 8-page self-cover, saddle-stitched item. Both would be printed on cover stock.

My client wanted my suggestions on what paper to use, how large to make the books, and how to tip the smaller book into the larger book.

Choosing Paper and a Page Size

I contacted a high-end commercial printing vendor to discuss the job. Based on the amount of information my client wanted to include on each page, the printer and I agreed that the 6” x 9” and 7” x 10” formats would be ideal. In addition, the size difference would be just enough for the smaller book to stand out from the larger book (too close in size, or paper stock, and the reader would not immediately know where one book ended and the other began).

Furthermore, the printer and I agreed that an 80# white satin cover stock would be ideal for the outer book and a 65# white satin cover stock would be best for the inner book (my client wanted a paper finish between gloss and matte). Again, the contrast between the two paper weights would immediately confirm where one print book ended and the other began.

In addition to immediately identifying the shift from one book to the next, the thinner paper for the interior print book book would have a few other advantages. First, the marketing piece would be lighter than one created entirely on 80# stock. Therefore, the cost to mail the job would be less than for a book printed on 80# cover stock throughout. Finally, the bulk of the combined print books would be less, so there would be more likelihood that the nested booklets would lie flat and not curl.

Binding One Print Book Into the Other (or Tipping One Book Onto Another)

I told the printer about the tip-on, and we agreed that there were three options.

  1. The smaller booklet could be bound into the center of the larger book. It could jog to the top or bottom of the book.
  2. The smaller book could be tipped onto cover #3 (the inside back cover of the larger book). The book printer could run a thin bead of fugitive glue (like rubber cement) parallel to the spine of the larger book and then position the smaller booklet on this easily-removable glue.
  3. The printer could insert a “hanger” between signatures in the larger book, and tip-on (affix with the fugitive glue) the smaller book. One side of the hanger would be visible in the front of the larger book (and could be printed or unprinted), and the other side would extend through the saddle stitches to the back of the book. The high-folio side of the hanger (the side after the center of the book) would provide a base to which the smaller book could be glued.

I asked the printer if there were other options, and he said there were none. I also asked which he preferred and why. The printer said that inserting the smaller print book into the center of the larger one would not require tabbing, but tipping the smaller booklet onto the back inside cover of the larger book would require tabbing.

Since the job would be a self-mailer, I noted that three wafer seal tabs would need to be applied by the mailshop—either way–for the Post Office to accept the job and process it on its automated equipment (i.e., the self-mailer would then be machinable and automatable and would receive relevant postage discounts).

The printer agreed and said that under these circumstances there would be no reason to choose one option over the other. If the client wanted the smaller booklet either tipped onto the inside back cover or bound into the center of the book, either would be fine.

Stitching Both Books and Then Attaching Them to One Another

In order to ensure that both the smaller and larger print books would be intact when the smaller book had been removed from the larger, we agreed on the following. The smaller book would be bound with two staples, the larger book would be bound with two staples, and then the smaller book would be bound into the larger book with one staple.

The printer did voice one concern. Since pulling the smaller book out of the center spread of the larger book would open the central binding staple, this could be awkward. Instead, he suggested wrapping an elastic band around the spine of both books to hold them together in the center of each. This elastic band could be white, black, or a color. He would see whether this would be acceptable to the Post Office.

Discussing My Findings with My Client

I presented all of these options and insights to my client. She wasn’t sure she liked the idea of an elastic band holding both books together. She might still opt for the staple, or she might prefer tipping the smaller book onto the back inside cover of the larger book. She would need to present all options and pricing to her client for review.

Pursuing Next Steps

Therefore, my next step was to set out in writing all specifications for the booklets, with all options noted for binding and tip-ons. I then sent the spec sheet to the printer I had contacted as well as two other vendors and requested pricing.

What You Can Learn from This

  1. Involve your custom printing supplier early. Describe your goals, and then ask for his suggestions for improving the product and making it cost-effective.
  2. Keep a detailed specification sheet, and update it as you adjust your goals.
  3. Share the specs with a number of printers. Some may have more knowledge in the area of your particular printed piece, or more appropriate equipment, or better pricing.

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