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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: Discontinued Endsheet Stock–Oops

I received an email from the book printer this week about the endsheet material for a case-bound book I’m brokering. It’s an annual 8.5” x 10.875”, 576-page, hard-cover publication with a press run of 1,000 copies.

The printer said the Antique Willow endsheet paper had been discontinued, and my client and I had to choose a replacement. Moreover, Rainbow, the company that had manufactured the paper used in the prior ten years (at least) worth of yearly books no longer offered anything like this particular stock in this particular color (specifically a light green, speckled paper).

First of All, What Is an Endsheet?

When you open a case-bound book, you will find a thick sheet of paper, half of which is pasted to the inside front cover of the binder’s board case side. The other half of this sheet is not pasted down. You can turn this page as though it were the first page of the book. The first half, pasted to the cover, is called the endsheet, and the loose page is called the flyleaf. At the back of the book, the pages are reversed. You have the flyleaf and then the endsheet (pasted to the back cover). You’ll know the endsheets and flyleafs because they are heavier than the interior text pages.

In case binding, the purpose of these pages is to provide a hanger to which the interior text signatures of the book can be attached. The interior edges of the endsheets are pasted down over extensions of the interior portion of the book spine that holds all the book signatures together.

What About Replacing My Client’s Endsheets with Another Brand?

Since the endsheets/flyleafs provide a functional (as opposed to aesthetic) addition to the binding of the print book by holding the pages, it’s important that they be not only attractive but also well made. The book printer producing my client’s yearly case bound book had checked, and had noted that the Rainbow sheet was superior in its runnability (it’s ability to go through the binding process and keep the book in good condition for a long time thereafter). The printer did not feel the same level of confidence in the competition’s endsheet stock.

So It Came Down to Picking Another Rainbow Sheet

Surprisingly enough, I found that choosing a replacement endsheet paper—even if it were of the same thickness and had the same paper surface as the prior year’s product—would be a subjective process potentially involving many people. My client didn’t want to get it wrong. Even though the distinction between a light green endsheet and a light grey or brown endsheet might seem insignificant, and even though most people would probably not even see whether there were specked flecks in the paper or not, some of those subscribers who received a copy of the print book year after year just might.

And given the importance of keeping the book production schedule intact in order to meet the delivery deadline, and due to the need to order and receive the new endsheet material in time for the binding process—it was important for my client to choose immediately.

But How Could She Choose, Particularly Since Many People Would Need to Weigh In?

The printer found a Rainbow endsheet sample book and, at my request, he flagged a few suggestions in various shades of green and one in light brown. Then he asked me to whom he should send the sample book. Unfortunately, at that point my client was on vacation, and her stand-in was leaving the next day.

So what I did was ask the printer to take a photo of the prior year’s endsheet stock (Antique Willow) showing its color, shade, and surface texture (speckled, with small multicolored flecks). On top of last year’s stock, before he took the photo, I asked the printer to lay down three Rainbow endsheet options he would suggest as alternatives. The paper samples side by side would show my client what to expect and how the samples would differ from last year’s stock.

I did this for one main reason: The photo could be transmitted to numerous people at the same time (like a virtual color proof for an offset printing job). Everyone could see the samples and weigh in on the choice.

I also had a copy of the physical swatchbook with the actual paper samples sent overnight to the client’s stand-in. I asked her to get back to me within twenty-four hours with a decision. I also suggested white as an alternative. I said that, in my opinion, since a huge number of books in print had white endsheets (which would in no way contrast with the text sheets of the book except in thickness), I didn’t think anyone would find fault with her choice.

Her boss got back to me in writing within a few hours of receiving the samples. He chose (or he merely conveyed the choice from the others) a shade called Oatmeal, a light brown version of the same speckled stock as last year. It was over. It was in writing. I was grateful.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Buying printing is a process. Assume that things will go wrong. When they do, ask the printer for his advice on a solution. Ask whether the printer’s suggested solution will affect the price and whether it will compromise the printing, binding, and delivery schedule.
  2. Ask for physical samples of any new manufacturing supplies (cover stock, text stock, or binding materials). But if you need something you can send around to a lot of people, also request photos (i.e., a virtual proof). Don’t use these photos instead of a physical sample swatch book. Use them in addition to a swatch book.
  3. If you need a safe choice, choose something neutral—such as a white endsheet. Better yet, look at sample print books similar to your product, and see what other designers and print buyers have done. This goes for other materials, such as the fabric for covering binder boards, foils for stamping the cover, etc.

2 Responses to “Book Printing: Discontinued Endsheet Stock–Oops”

  1. Thanks for the great post. I really like it.


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