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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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Custom Printing: 3 Options for Booklet Cover Paper

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about a print brokering client who wanted 1,000 sets of book covers to GBC bind or plastic coil bind herself. The covers are for a convention handbook. They are diecut, and my client’s logo will be embossed into the printing stock. Interestingly enough, there will be no offset printing involved, unlike most of my other jobs.

As per my client’s request, I sent the custom printing supplier a PMS number to match my client’s corporate color. My client wanted a press sheet of a particular hue with a rough texture. My printer suggested 80# Via Feltmark Periwinkle cover and sent unprinted paper samples to my client.

My Client’s Reaction

Although my client liked the color and paper texture, the 80# cover stock was too thin. So I went back to the printer for more ideas. I could understand my client’s reticence, but unfortunately the stock did not come in a thicker weight.

The custom printing vendor suggested duplexing a press sheet. To match the color and texture of the paper my client liked, the printer suggested 80# Classic Laid Denim Cover (2 sheets glued together to make 160# cover stock). Unfortunately, this would be expensive (approximately $1,800.00, in contrast to the initial bid of approximately $800 to produce the job on 80# Via Feltmark Periwinkle cover).

This was the case for two reasons:

    1. The printer would need to buy a minimum paper order of two cartons.


  1. The printer would need to laminate the press sheets together to create the duplex stock.

A Third Option

As an alternative, the commercial printing vendor suggested buying a thick felt white press sheet and painting the sheet (covering the press sheet completely) with ink to match the PMS color. This would cost much less, since it would not require a minimum order of a premium press sheet and since it would not require gluing the sheets together.

That said, my only concern was that the interior white of the paper might be visible where the rectangle had been diecut out of the press sheet (i.e., you can’t print the inside of a custom printing press sheet).

The printer confirmed that this would be true. However, he did say that the white interior of the painted press sheet would be consistent in thickness. Therefore, with the PMS color my client had selected being visible on the front and back of the diecut sheet, the white paper interior where the die had cut the paper would appear like a dual-colored mat in a framed fine art print. It could look quite attractive.

What We Can Learn from This Case Study

Here are some things to ponder:

    1. A complex job will always take longer than you might expect. Fortunately, my client started early and involved me (and I involved the custom printing supplier) at the onset of the project. In spite of that, the 10 working days my printer will need to have the dies made and diecut and emboss the project will still make the schedule tight.


    1. Any job that involves outside vendors (subcontracting) will take longer than you might expect. In my client’s case, the cutting and embossing dies will need to be made by a separate vendor.


    1. There’s usually more than one way to do something in the field of commercial printing. My client could choose an 80# cover stock. Or (since that particular cover stock is too thin, and since it does not come in 100# or 130# cover thickness), she could have the printer duplex the sheet. Or (since that option would be quite expensive), she can have the printer “paint the sheet.” When you approach your printer, it’s usually better to describe the outcome you want and let the printer suggest ways to achieve your goals. That said, it also helps if you can be flexible.


    1. Duplexing can be an intriguing option. You don’t always need to laminate two pieces of the same stock together. You might choose one color for the front and another color for the reverse of the press sheet to make your custom printing job really stand out.


  1. Unusual commercial printing stocks may involve special orders, which usually involve minimums. This can get expensive. It’s best to ask your printer to suggest options, such as matching a particular PMS color rather than specifying one particular brand of paper.

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