1. Mitch445
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    Mitch445 Member

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    Are printers obligated to send samples?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Mitch445, Jan 29, 2010.

    I never published a book before so I'm unfamiliar with printer-author etiquette.

    After I receive quotes from printers, my requests to have samples mailed are ignored repeatedly. I don't think I should have to drive 6 hours round trip for samples of their craftsmanship (I live far from them). On the other hand, they are unsure of my motives and might think I won't return their property. My lack of publishing experience means that I don't know if I'm being unreasonable or if they are. Do I make the first commitment by having my designer hand in my manuscript file, or do they commit first by mailing me samples of a couple paper types and soft covers?
     
  2. ronmatt
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    ronmatt Member

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    What type of printing? commercial or book publisher/printers? If commercial, I'd think that they'd be bending over backwards to accommodate you, what with the shape commercial printers are in today. You should expect print samples and paper samples if you request them. To expect a salesman, if you're 6 hours away may be pushing it some unless you're a 'major player' for them ( meaning repeat, profitable business ). A reputable printer should have a samples packet ready to go.

    Secondly, if you have a design firm handling this, then part of their job is to arrange everything for you. I'm a designer..it's what I do.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is another example of the problems you face when you decide to self-publish. You have to deal with business issues with vendors you don't know and should not automatically trust.

    If they won't send samples, you are under no obligation to deal with them. The same is true if they do send samples.

    Likewise, they have no obligation to do business with you, and that includes sending samples.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    The printer I selected for my company provided me with a tour of the plant. He introduced me to some of the key people who would be producing my book and he printed out several pages on different paper and with alternative positioning. This was before we signed a contract. In Canada, paper costs are subsidized by the government in support of their lumber industry so Canadian printers offered slightly better prices than US shops. I stayed local because the service was so much better.

    That said, here are some mistakes on my book layout that I will not repeat:

    1. Paper selection/cost - I chose the highest quality paper. Cost was higher and I discovered later that it was unnecessary.

    2. Binding - I used "perfect" binding (typical for paperbacks) but did not leave enough print offset on the binding edge of each page. This resulted in a book that is difficult to read the words close to the spine.

    3. Paper thickness - I liked the look of print on a slightly thicker opaque paper. The extra thickness created a book with a very stiff spine. You almost have to over-stretch the spine before you can read the book comfortably and it turns out the thicker paper was not needed.

    4. UV coating cover - There is a process called "UV coating" that seals the cover colors against fading over time. I used it, but I will not use this treatment in the future. It's minimally beneficial. Of course, the cover colors on my books will still look great in two hundred years...LOL

    I would not contract with a printer without some examples of their work...and, do not accept posters, stapled brochures and such as "examples". Single pages and stapled brochures do not show you how well they are at perfect binding. Only books show that skill.
     
  5. ronmatt
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    ronmatt Member

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    A couple of other things to watch for;
    The paper you choose isn't always the paper you get. Printers have been known to 'downgrade' the weight and the quality of paper without notifying you.
    Your designer is responsible for page centering. A perfect bound book should have the 'grind' built into the document and if images print beyond the trim, that's called 'bleed' and the designer should know that and prepare the doc for that as well.
    When the files arrive at 'pre-press' the operator pre-flights the files and prepares them for imposition and output either to film or computer to plate.
    Prior to that a folded proof or soft ( digital ) proof is provided you or your designer, for approval. The position of the pages should have been noted then. Actually, the pre-press tech should have notified you when they discovered the 'poor' positioning of the pages. If they didn't do any of these steps..find a new printer.

    Soy based inks, which is what most printers use today, have a good exposure life. They won't fade too fast. If you wanted a coating, varnish would have been cheaper.
    Question. did the book print on a web or sheetfed press? If sheetfed you may have been able to save a buck on a web press.
     
  6. Mitch445
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    Mitch445 Member

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    They advertise themselves as expert printers of trade paperbacks & hardcovers, but it wouldn't surprise me if they are involved in run-of-the-mill business cards and promo flyers too. So they could be catering to their major players and just waiting til I do my own research and fill an online order. I know the sturdy Lulu books are 60#weight paper, so perhaps a 50#weight would be fine and just a tad less sturdy (it's a shame that I have to figure every single thing out on my own, but the business world can be cruel like that) Thankfully there are forums such as this where I can get helpful opinions.

    Nacl- thanks for the impeccable advice. The perfect binding issue is what scares me most also. I'll push my designer to make sure the prepress dept. does a good job in that area.

    Thank you all.
     
  7. Mitch445
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    Mitch445 Member

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    Thanks Ron...I'll run this by my designer. She mentioned some this info, but not all. Her 25 years experience give me confidence in her, but I'll continue asking questions anyway and get a better understanding of what's going on. I'm not sure what web and sheetfed press are unfortunately. The printers said something about digital printing due to the run's small size...i'm not sure if that's a whole different topic.
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess we gave the OP a few things to think about...LOL
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i use gorham printers in centralia washington for my books... they turn out a high quality product for a reasonable fee and the staff is extremely helpful... they'll send you a book sample in the form of their very well-ordered 'manual'... i wouldn't recommend any other...
     
  10. ronmatt
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    ronmatt Member

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    That would be a sheetfed press. In the future I believe you'll find 'web printing' to be considerably cheaper Providing the run is big enough. On a web, they'd most likely print the entire book in 1 or at least fewer passes. thus, fewer make readies and the paper comes on a roll, not sheets and the sigs are folded directly off the press. Some costly steps eliminated.

    Hope I helped you and not confused you
     
  11. Mitch445
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    Mitch445 Member

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    Not too confusing. Extremely helpful actually. This was one of the more detailed lessons on book printing I ever received.
     

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