There are so many different book cover finishes – What’s the Difference? – Litho-Wrap Case Binding

In the fifth blog of the series, we will be discussing Litho-Wrap Case Binding.

Litho-Wrap Case Binding:

As we discussed last week, when you do a standard hard cover binding finish, if you want to include a printed cover with it, you must have a dust jacket. While this is a nice option, it isn’t the most durable option for the survival of your cover, and it is definitely not a great option for kids’ books. It also tends to be the priciest option.

While not the most cost effective option, litho-wrapping allows your protected cover to be bound directly to the hard case cover, keeping it attached to your book forever, at a lower price than standard case binding with a dust jacket. As with soft covers, litho-wrapped covers can have a gloss or matte laminate done on them. The laminated paper is pulled tight around a thick board, and attached to the back of said board using an adhesive, just as with standard case binds and the cloth or buckram finishes. In the same way as standard case binding, the books are then bound and attached to the case, with end sheets inside to hide where the cover wraps to.

It is not recommended to try to litho-wrap with a cover that has been embossed or debossed, as the covers are pulled tight and will likely lose their effect. Also, gloss laminate tends to be a better choice than matte, as the matte can scuff easily.

Like standard case binding, this type of cover is very resilient, and should last a very long time. Longer than even standard case binding, typically. While this used to be a more popular binding for text books only, it has become quite popular with children’s books, and is readily becoming a more popular option for other types of books, such as novels, as well.


There are so many different book cover finishes – What’s the Difference? – Standard Case Binding

In the fourth blog of the series, we will be discussing Standard Case Binding.

Standard Case Binding:

Standard case binding actually has several different types of materials that can be used, but we could go on with individual blogs forever, so we will just cover the most popular options here. Common, and popular choices are synthetics like Buckram and Tanotex, and natural materials like linen and leather. Synthetics are the most cost effective, followed by cloth and then leather. The material is pulled tight around a thick board, and attached to the back of said board using an adhesive. From there, the books are bound and attached to the case, with end sheets covering the inside covers.

These materials are often adorned with the cover and spine text using either silk screening, which is the more cost effective option, or with foiling for golds, silvers, etc.

This type of cover is very resilient, and can last a long time, but does not tend to be the most appealing option to the eye. Typically, these  types of covers are covered with a dust jacket, which allows for the cover art to be included with the book, but allows for it to easily be damaged or lost. This type of bind is usually something that I would recommend for a keepsake, vs. something that will be read thoroughly, or often.

With the dust jacket, this tends to be the most expensive finishing option of all.

Next week we’ll discuss litho-wrapping.


There are so many different book cover finishes – What’s the Difference? – Varnish

In the third blog of the series, we will be discussing varnish.

Varnish finish:

Varnish is a thin lacquer type substance that is applied to a book cover with an offset press. In order to have a varnish finish the entire cover must be printed offset. It is applied as a liquid, either as a flood (covers whole surface) or spot (covers only certain spots. People do this for effect sometimes), and then dries clear.  It very minimally protects against sun fading,  and general wear and tear of a book. You are likely to get frayed corners with this type of coating. If you want your cover to be embossed or debossed, however, this is one of the right finish options for you. The varnish floods into the ridges and ripples covering all nooks and cranny’s of the surface.

Varnish is available in gloss, semi-gloss, and matte. In order to get a high gloss sheen, you would need to do multiple floods of varnish.

Offset cover printing is an expensive option if you are not doing over 1000 books.

Varnish can be used as a coating for any type of book, even litho-wrapping.

Next week we’ll discuss UV coating.

There are so many different book cover finishes – What’s the Difference? – UV Coating

In the second blog of the series, we will be discussing UV Coating.

UV Coating finish:

UV Coating is a lacquer that is applied to a book cover with an offset press, providing a very high gloss finish.  In order to have a UV Coating finish the entire cover must be printed offset. It is applied as a liquid as a flood (covers whole surface) and then dries clear.  It effectively protects against sun fading , and very minimally against  general wear and tear of a book. You are likely to get frayed corners, and to eventually experiencing cracking with this type of coating. If you want your cover to be embossed or debossed, this is a fantastic finish options for you. It is probably the best option. The UV floods into the ridges and ripples covering all nooks and cranny’s of the surface, just like varnish, but it provides a stronger, better finish.

UV Coat is only available in a high gloss finish. Typically only one flood of UV is necessary.

As always, offset cover printing is an expensive option if you are not doing over 1000 books, and UV Coat is not available through all offset printers. Be sure to confirm that a printer actually offers UV and not just multiple coats of gloss varnish.

UV Coat can be used as a coating for any type of book, including litho-wrapped books.

Next week we’ll discuss varnish coating.

There are so many different book cover finishes – What’s the Difference? – Film Laminate

Gloss-Film-LaminateYou want to protect the cover of your book, of that, there is no doubt, but what is the best way? It depends on your cover and book, really. Over the next several weeks we will discuss the different finishes, with their pros and cons, so that you can confidently decide for yourself which coating will best suit your needs.

Single side film lamination:

Film laminate (Commonly referred to as book laminate, or single side laminate in the book world, and will likely be called this on any quotes that you receive) is a very thin layer of a poly (plastic) material that is attached to a book cover using high heat and a roller press. If done correctly, this protective coating will last you a lifetime. It protects against liquid damage, sun fading, tearing, cracking, and general wear and tear of a book. You won’t get frayed corners with this type of coating. If you want your cover to be embossed or debossed, however, this is likely not the right finish for you. The ridges and ripples can prevent a tight seal and adhesion of the laminate to the surface of the cover. With film laminate, if you experience any air bubbles, or lack of adhesion, you run a high risk of delamination, where the laminate lets go of the surface, either in spots or on the entire cover.

Film laminate is available in both gloss and matte. While the technology to create a sturdy matte laminate has come a long way, gloss laminates are still recommended for covers that have wide spread areas of dark or highly saturated colors, as matte still scuffs more easily, and scuffs are also more evident, than with a gloss finish.

Film laminate can be used as a coating for any type of book, even litho-wrapping.

Next week we’ll discuss UV coating.

Some Basics of Microsoft Word 2010 for Book Typesetting – Setting Your Margins

This week we will discuss setting your margins using Microsoft Word. We always suggest a minimum of 0.5” for margins, and using a mirror margin to set a gutter edge of 0.25”. A margin is the space on the top, bottom, left and right side of the page in which no print will go. If you want an image to go right to the edge of the page, at that point, you will need to set a bleed. This is not something that you can really do with Word alone. The gutter is an additional bit of space that is added in so that the small amount of space that is lost to the bind is not noticeable. Setting up mirror margins sets the gutter so that it always falls at the center of the page.

Normal Margins:

1. Click on the Page Layout tab.


2. Select Margins


3. Scroll down and select Custom Margins



4. Now, put in your top, bottom and side margins, select mirror margins, and add in the gutter.




Your margins are now set!

What to Expect from Your Print Company

What-to-Expect-from-Your-Print-CompanyIt is a good question, what will your print company do for you as a part of their regular services? This is also a good question to ask. I, of course, can only speak for what Blitzprint does as a normal part of their service, and I have outlined some frequently asked questions below.

Will you tell me if there is something wrong with my files?
If there is something obvious, like your book files are set for a different size than you have been quoted, if your pages are missing bleeds when they need them,  your spine is the wrong size, so on, and so forth. We will sometimes catch other issues, like if you have your black and white images set to CMYK instead of grayscale, but we don’t guarantee that we will catch that. Our main concern is that your files will print and create the book that you were quoted for, so, those are the details that we look for.

Will you tell me if my sections are in the wrong order?
This is not something that we would look for. We don’t question the sequence in which you set your sections of your book up, as this is your book, and we will assume that it is set up the way that you want it to be, if that is how you have sent your files to us. Even if we are doing typesetting or formatting work for you, we will not question the order of your chapters, etc, because we will assume that your files are as you want them to be. This is something that would be tackled by your editor.

Will you tell me if I have grammatical or spacing errors?
If we notice something significant, or by chance, we will definitely mention it to you, but this is not something that we look for. This also falls under the jurisdiction of an editor.

Will you tell me if my photos are not going to print out well?
If we are doing a proof for you, there is a good chance that our prepress department will take a look at your photos and let me know of any concerns that they have. However, this is something that we try to make an effort to do, but not something that we charge for. As such, we can’t guarantee that we will catch every issue with photos. For that reason, I always strongly suggest a printed proof for books that contain images or any sort of grayscale or gradient.

Can I see a copy of my book before I go to print?
We will gladly send you a proof. A PDF proof is included in your pricing, but a printed proof would be additional, and something that you would need to request specifically.

Can you put an ISBN barcode on my back cover?
Yes, we definitely can, and yes we will, at no additional charge to you. However, with that being said, you must mention that you are requiring a barcode to be added at the time of placing your order.


Do you have any questions here that I missed? I will be glad to answer them in a future post. Send them to me at networking (@)

What exactly does POD mean?

What-exactly-does-POD-meanPOD means Print on Demand, but we all know that there is a lot more to it than that. There are different types of print on demand, each adding their own twist to the meaning.

There are the one at a time POD printers who retail your books. These guys are the CreateSpace’s of the world. CreateSpace, for example, is a subsidiary of lists your book, someone buys it, CreateSpace prints it, and ships it. These guys are really aimed at first time DIY authors. I don’t believe that they offer a hard cover option.

There are one at a time POD printers like Lightning Source, who market your book on a few different online stores, as well as in the Ingram catalog. These guys act more like distributors These guys work in a very similar way to CreateSpace. They are more aimed at experienced authors. They will take anyone on, though, and they are incredibly friendly.

Both of these types of POD printers have a set, low price for one book at a time. They do this by printing your book with hundreds of other books that have come in, and fall into the same “bucket” as your book.

Short run POD are printers who specialize in runs of soft cover books, typically from as few as 5, to as many as 1,000. Past 1,000, short run printers will often suggest that you find an offset printer.  Cost per book will get less the more books you order. There isn’t a break point, like there is in offset. It is literally cheaper per book at 400 books than it is at 399.

Now that you know the difference, how do you know what is right for your needs? Check out our previous blog, How Do I Find The Right Printer for Me?

Eco-Friendly Printing


We have a lot of clients who are concerned about the impact that their books will make on the environment. This is definitely something that we understand. In the past few decades we have watched a huge shift in the printing industry, with more and more recycled stocks being made available, vegetable based inks, and the birth of groups like the Forestry Stewardship Council (more commonly known as FSC)

When it comes to the inks, just ask your printer, and they will let you know if they are using environmentally friendly inks and toners.

Now for papers, there are lots of different stocks out there that contain at least some post consumer waste (PCW). The more PCW in the paper though, the more it will likely raise the cost. Be forewarned now. I know what you are thinking, recycled products are being used to make this product, so it should be cheaper! That is actually rarely the case. Instead, because of the extra steps of process involved (the breaking down of the recycled product, the preparation of it, and then the manufacturing of the final product using it) it actually tends to cost more. The more PCW is in a paper, the more particles you can expect to see in the stock as well. Also, just to note, most 100% PCW stocks aren’t as opaque.

If you are wanting to use the FSC symbol (C008158) on your book, you must first find a printer who is FSC certified. Once you have done that, let them know right at the beginning that you want FSC stocks, and be prepared to have a more limited selection of paper, because not all papers are FSC certified. The FSC group certifies companies that are willing to comply to a strict list of regulations that start at the very beginning with how they manage their cut sites, to the very end, with how we, as the printers, manage how our paper is managed and stored. Not all companies are willing to comply with those rigorous requirements.

To find out more about the FSC, their mission, and their approved products, visit them at

Vanity Publishing vs. Printers Who Work with Self Published Authors

Vanity-Publishing-Can-Cost-YouYou might ask is there a difference? The answer is yes, and quite often, it is a big difference.

You can usually easily spot a vanity publisher in the following ways:

They call themselves a publisher, but they charge you to print your books.

Actual publishers take on the responsibility of printing your books, and the risk associated with it. Printers who work with self-published authors will very clearly state that they are book printers, not the publishers.

They offer pricey packages that include everything from editing, to design, to distribution and marketing. They will make you famous!

Always be wary, and remember caveat emptor. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Once again, these are services that real publishing houses will take the risk with, exempting marketing, in many cases. Some printers will work with editors and designers that they can have work on your book, or that they will recommend you to, but they won’t offer fancy packages to cover it all.

They offer you an ISBN. For a cost.

Always be leery of this. In Canada, you can obtain an ISBN for free. What is their rationale behind the charges? Well, someone has to do the work to obtain the ISBN, which is a reasonable thought. However, why on earth would you pay for an ISBN, when you can easily get yourself one for free? Also, the ISBN will be forever linked to that company, and not to you. This was a common practice with vanity publishers, and book printers in the past, but once it was realized that the book was linked to the company, and not the author, many of us in the book printing industry stopped this practice. Vanity publishers still offer them up like they are a unicorn, something that is so difficult to obtain. They aren’t, so don’t buy it; Or the ISBN for that matter. See our blog on ISBNs and CIP data for more information on how to obtain your own.

They ask you to sign away some or all of your rights to the book, AND charge you to print your book.

Actual publishing houses will ask you to sign away a portion or all of your rights to your book in exchange for payment, as described in the contract that you sign with them. This will be very out in the open, and not secretly hidden away. You will still need a lawyer to review the agreement, to make sure that it is in your best interest, but at the end of the day, in exchange for your rights, you will get reimbursed. Meaning, you don’t sign away your rights, and then pay the “publisher” to take them. When you agree that the company owns rights to your files, this means that you can not ever change anything to do with that book without their assistance. You have now just married yourself to a company for the lifetime of that book. If you are trying to self-publish, then you should not be signing away any ownership of your book to the printer.

There are companies out there that wear both hats, as the vanity publisher and the straight forward printer. They will always be trying to upsell you. Don’t get sucked into packages, when you can do some research, and find yourself great editors and designers/formatters that will give you a professional final product. Strive to find partners to work with that care about you and your book, not just about turning a dime off of you.