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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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Book Printing: Saving a Job That’s Going South

Sometimes a job needs to be saved.

I had been working on and off for almost a year designing a friend’s cookbook, as her time had allowed. Design fees were adding up. Fortunately the book was to have a limited press run through a digital, on-demand book printing vendor, but the overall price was still rising, and the custom printing cost would add to this substantially.

The following case study reflects my suggestions when my client decided to put the job on hold and rethink the approach. I did not want her time or money to have been spent in vain.

The Scope of the Job

The print book was to be a lengthy cookbook including multiple recipes from various parts of the world. Due to the variety involved, there was already a disjointed look in the design (this was a stumbling block that had not yet been resolved). The book would be a perfect-bound custom printing job with multiple photos (requiring multiple photo shoots).

Possible Directions for the Future

  1. I suggested simplifying the design and production. Dramatic designs might be less useful than a simple method for organizing the recipes from various parts of the world.
  2. Instead of printing several hundred pages on gloss text, I encouraged my client to consider, perhaps, producing recipe cards that could be included in a pocket folder or even tied together in related bunches with twine or some other natural material. This way, the cards could be removed if the reader wanted to prepare a certain recipe. The cards could be more practical in the messy kitchen than a high-quality glossy book.
  3. My client could have custom labels printed to carry the design elements. Crack-n-peel labels could be affixed to pre-purchased, natural fiber custom pocket folders, saving my client a lot of money.
  4. My client could even attach the crack-n-peel labels to plastic or wood recipe boxes rather than custom pocket folders. This would give the cook a unique storage case from which individual recipes might be removed for use.
  5. If my client bought custom printing services for the various elements that required printing, and then assembled and fulfilled the kits herself, she would save a lot of money. She could still provide a usable and memorable item branded with her unique, overall design.

How You Can Apply This Approach to Fixing a Job

Sometimes things just don’t work, and you need to re-envision them. Here are some thoughts on how to proceed:

  1. Articulate your goals. If the job is becoming disjointed, look for the overall unifying factor.
  2. Consider how the product will be used. In this case, individual recipe cards might have been more practical than a bound book. Is the format of your project the best possible choice from a utilitarian point of view?
  3. Consider the production methods. Certain kinds of binding (if your project is a print book) cost more than others. A perfect-bound book, for instance, will cost less than a case-bound book.
  4. Give thought to which processes you need to buy and which processes you can do yourself. Storage and fulfillment cost money on a monthly basis. If you can do some of the work yourself, you will reap the savings.
  5. Conversely, don’t try to do something you’re unequipped to do. If your job is a large press run of a book, maybe you don’t have the storage space or the personnel to accept orders and fulfill them.
  6. Consider the technologies and raw materials for the job. Maybe you can design a two-color job on an uncoated stock that will cost less than a four-color job printed on a gloss sheet. If you are creative with the design, this will look intentional, even if the primary concern is saving money. Ask your commercial printer for suggestions.

2 Responses to “Book Printing: Saving a Job That’s Going South”

  1. LG 42LS5600 says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about cook book printing.


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