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Printing Industry Exchange ( 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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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

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Custom Book Printers Provide One Final Chance to Proof the Hardcover Case

Of all the different printing services you will purchase as a print buyer, hardcover books will cost more than most business printing jobs. It therefore pays to get everything right with these projects. Print companies that specialize in custom book printing will often send you a sample case upon request so you can review the part of the book the reader will see first, one last time before the book has been bound.

The Problem: The Book Printer’s Sample Case Saves Lives (or at Least Jobs)

A client called me today with a problem. She had found a typo in the foil stamped text on the sample case she had just received. It was an additional digit in the ISBN number, so it had to be deleted. Period.

The good news: 1) She caught the error (that’s the purpose of a proof). 2) The digit was an extra “9” at the beginning of the ISBN number. The book printer was able to hone off the number on the foil stamping die so it would not print (although the extra space where the printer removed the digit would remain).

Things could have been much worse. If the printer had not been able to hone off the extra digit, or if the digit had been wrong, rather than superfluous, my client would have provided a new text file for the hardcover case. The book printer would have commissioned a new die, and repeated the proofing process by sending out a new sample case. The new die alone would have cost upwards of $450. And time would have been lost, possibly compromising the book production schedule.

Sample Case: What’s Included?

The sample case of a custom book printing might seem irrelevant when it arrives with the other proofs, but it is unwise to ignore such an important proofing opportunity. Essentially an actual one-off copy of the book cover that will encase the text signatures of your job, the sample case allows you to see:

1. the exact thickness of binder boards used for the casing
2. what fabric will cover the boards (color, thickness, and weave)
3. the quality of the turned edges (how the fabric will adhere to the outside of the boards and how it will look turned over the edges and glued onto the inside of the case)
4. how the foil stamping will adhere to the fabric covering the boards (crispness of the type, consistency of the foil application, and even whether the text will be centered on the spine)

What will be missing?

1. Your sample case will not include the endsheets and flyleaves (the paper covering the inside surface of the binder boards).
2. It will not include the headbands and footbands (small fabric pieces that hide the bind edge of the text signatures).
3. The sample case won’t include the “crash” or “mull” (a mixture of thick mesh and glue attached to the spine of the text signatures to stiffen and reinforce the binding edge of the book).
4. And, of course, the text signatures will be missing.

Check it carefully. Once the book printing company sets the text blocks into the covers, there are no remedies for errors other than tearing off the covers and reprinting. It is wise to review and approve the sample case within 24 hours of receiving it so as not to impede book production.

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