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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: Analyzing a Book Production Schedule

I just received the following schedule for a print book a brokering client of mine intends to produce. I think you might find it illuminating in your own print buying work, since it addresses some areas that could be confusing, or that you might inadvertently forget to consider.



With “approval” F&Gs
Prepayment to printer: xx/xx
Final PO or signed quote with firm page count and order quantity: xx/xx
Order paper: xx/xx
Files in: xx/xx
Proofs out: xx/xx
Proofs returned: xx/xx
Paper due: xx/xx
Press date range: xx/xx- xx/xx (Sheet for cover and web for text)
F&Gs: should go out xx/xx; xx/xx is the approval required by date
(no need to return F&Gs since printer will have a set on hand)
Binding: xx/xx- xx/xx
Planned ship date: xx/xx
Delivery to xxxxxx, xxxxxx, and xxxxxxx: xx/xx or xx/xx


I have deleted the dates and delivery information for the sake of simplicity.

Here are some thoughts. You will note that most commercial printing contracts do not include such detailed schedules as this. In most cases, this kind of a schedule is what you would expect from a supplier dedicated to book printing.

Approval vs. Confirming F&Gs

The “approval” F&Gs are folded and gathered book signatures prior to binding. It’s smart to review a copy. If you see a printing problem, you can ask the supplier to reprint a signature before binding the print book. This is not a place to edit. Only such printing problems as overinking, streaking, or similar press errors would warrant a reprint. Make sure it’s a printing problem, or you’ll pay for the reprint. A bad photo you submitted that looks worse when printed doesn’t qualify. That said, it is cheaper (on your dime) to reprint a signature than to reprint the entire book, so if you find a horrendous error, sometimes it’s worth the expense to pay to reprint a signature.

“Approval” means the printer stops production (does not proceed with binding) until you have signed off on the F&G. The alternative to an “approval” F&G is a “confirming” F&G. When you receive a confirming F&G, the printer proceeds with binding the book while you are reviewing the F&G. He doesn’t wait for your approval. Obviously, an “approval” F&G is safer. However, receiving one may lengthen the book production schedule, so negotiate this in advance with your book printer.

Prepayment vs. Credit

If you choose to establish credit with a printer, he will probably bill you (net-15 or net-30, or whatever you arrange with him). If for whatever reason you would prefer to not have a credit check, you will probably need to pay the entire cost of the job (plus ten percent, for some printers, to account for overage) prior to the commencement of the job. In fact, the printer may ask for this amount very early. The reason is that he will need to pay for your paper purchase up front, and the cost of paper for a book printing job can be a large percentage of the total cost of the book. To be safe in such a case, ask your printer when he will need funds to buy paper to support the schedule.

Firm Page Count and Order Quantity

Basically, you overpay for the job, and then your book printer sends you a refund (if there is one) at the end of the job. Therefore, once you prepay, you have a little time to firm up the page count and quantity. Ask your printer for this cut-off date. After this date, no further changes in page count or quantity will be accepted.

At this point it’s also wise to ask about ideal page counts. Book printers often have web presses, and these large roll-fed presses run 32-page or 16-page signatures. For example, a 512-page book will consist of sixteen 32-page signatures (32 x 16 = 512). If you want to print 504 pages plus cover, you might actually pay more than you would for a 512-page book. This is due to the hand-work necessitated by the signature make up (15 32-page signatures plus one 16-page signature plus one 8-page signature–with hand collation).

Proofs Out and Proofs Returned

When you know when your proofs will be sent out, ask your printer for an estimated arrival date. In addition, when you send back the proofs with a signed approval, find out from your delivery service when the proofs will reach your printer. Don’t assume you have as long to check the proof and prepare revised art files as the time from the “proofs out” date to “proofs returned” date. (You need to allot time for the two-way shipping of the proofs.)

Sheet for Cover and Web for Text

In this particular case, my client’s printer will be producing 3,000 copies of a 512-page-plus-cover book. The text blocks (512 pages x 3,000 books) warrant a web press. However, the 3,000-copy cover print run will only need a sheetfed press.

Dates for F&Gs

Even “approval” F&Gs may not need to be returned (“confirming” F&Gs most probably won’t need to be returned either). Therefore, you will have the time from their arrival to their due date (without shipping—i.e., a longer time) to review them. However, reprints take time, so I’d encourage you to check the F&Gs carefully upon their arrival.

Planned Ship Date and Delivery Date

Some printers just note the ship date on the book printing schedule. To be safe, give the printer all delivery information (the quantity for each delivery point, the delivery point address, and the date needed) early in the process, and then ask for both the ship date and the estimated delivery date.

Depending on where your printer is, and on where the delivery points are, deliveries could occur at different times. If so, give your printer priorities as to which deliveries are urgent (book copies that will be sold, for instance) and which can be delivered a day or two later. Let the printer work out the best shipping method (full truck, LTL–or less than truckload, UPS Ground, etc.), but state your scheduling needs and discuss the options and costs with your printer.

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