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.

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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, so that you can confidently decide for yourself which coating will best suit your needs. The first type of book finishing we are going to discuss is film laminate.

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.

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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 about your print company that I missed? I will be glad to answer them in a future post. Send them to me at

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?

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.

How Do I Know if My Book is Ready to Print?

Are-You-Ready-to-Print1We require print ready files to go to print with your book. What does that really mean though?

It would mean that your book is exactly how you would want it to be, if it were to be printed right at this moment. So what does that mean? Here’s a checklist.

 The book interior is formatted to the final print size. ie. If your book is 6 x 9, your interior files are currently set to a 6 x 9 size.

 Your margins are what they should be for print. Margins that are too large will look silly, but margins that are too small put your text body at risk of being chopped in the final manufacturing stage. I recommend 0.75” to 1” for top and bottom margins, 0.50” to 0.75” for left and right margins, and 0.25” for mirror margins.

 You have mirror margins set up. Mirror margins are additional space that is added to what would be the inside edge of your page. This helps to keep your margins looking balanced after binding, and prevents any of your text body from getting sucked into the bind gutter.

 Your font size is the size that you want it to be in printing. We usually recommend between a 10 and 11pt.

 The fonts chosen for all aspects of your book are the fonts that you are committed to. We recommend a serif font for the text body, as it is much easier to read once printed, but larger headings like chapter titles and section headings are completely acceptable in a sans serif font.

 All images that are in your book, and on your cover are 300 dpi at the size that they are printing, and any images that also have text on them are 600 dpi at the size that they are printing.

 All images that are meant to print color are set to CMYK, and, images that are meant to print black and white are set to grayscale.

 All page numbers are correct.

 You have checked the table of contents and index for accuracy since any final changes, and you are confident that the numbers listed are all correct.

 You have double checked to make sure that your pages will all fall on the side that you want them to. A general rule of thumb is that odd pages are right hand pages, and even pages are left hand pages. Don’t go by your page numbers showing on the page to determine whether a page is odd or even, go by the page number listed in the program you are working with.

 You are confident that your content is the final draft, and that there are absolutely no other changes to take place.

 You have a cover designed. Your front and back cover are the correct size, and have a 0.125” bleed around all outside edges. You have confirmed your spine size with your printer, and it is the correct size. You have crop marks in place to show the printer where to cut on your cover, and score marks in place for your spine. (If you need help with this, speak with your printer about getting their assistance, or talk to a graphic designer. This will be a cost added service, if you require assistance).

 You have saved your files as PDFs, you have embedded any fonts and links, or you have packaged all fonts and links up for your printer.

 You have seen a final, printed proof. While this isn’t required, I do always recommend it.

These are the general points that you want to be able to check off, to say, “That is it, I am ready to go.” There is a lot to cover, don’t be afraid to talk with your printer to be sure that you are ready to go when it comes time to print.

11 Good Questions

Before you make your final decision on who will get to print your book, there are some very important questions that everyone should ask. Watch the video below to hear some words of wisdom from our President and CEO, Kevin Lanuke, and then click here to get the 11 Good Questions download.

For more information on self publishing, visit our website.

We will return to our Make Library and Archives Your Friend series next week, when we discuss copyright.

How do I decide on binding?


For binding, there are a few types of binding that you will see on a normal basis.

Perfect Binding; Soft Cover: This is where the pages of your book are together in a book block, and are glued to your paper cover. Things that you should watch for is that your printer does a single side book laminate on the cover, and that they do hinge scores on the cover. The single side laminate protects your book, and if done properly, will be a shield that will protect your edges and corners, giving your book a lot more longevity. A hinge score is a score mark (a notch made in your book cover that will not damage the cover surface, but allows for folding without a large amount of breakage in the fibers of the paper) that goes perpendicular to your spine on the front and back cover, so that people can open your book without worrying as much about creasing the cover, or having the cover rip away from the glue bind as a result of repeated tugging on it. Essentially, it creates a place where your cover can naturally fold open. This is a good bind for books that are 36 to 1000 pages, although you can go up to 1200. Ideally, you want to have your paper stock, in the majority, for this type of book to be an uncoated stock if you are printing digitally. An uncoated stock provides a better bond between your paper and the glue that does the binding work. This type of bind is the only one that has issues that result from using a coated stock for the majority of pages in the book.

Saddle Stitch Binding: This is a bind where your book is printed up in signatures and then put together with the cover, scored in the center, folded, and then stapled up the fold. Think of a large majority of children’s books, or multiple paged booklets. This is a common bind for both. Once again, you want to be sure that you have a single sided laminate on the cover to protect your book. These books need to have a number of pages that are divisible by 4 (12, 16, 20, etc) and no more than 80 pages. The covers on these books will notoriously pop open a little bit for a long time. Eventually the paper will relax, and your book will lay flat, but don’t expect that right away. Once again, think of kids books. For paper, the sky is really the limit with these books.

A quick note about hard cover or case bound books: For all hard cover books, you can put pretty much any text weight paper in the interior, and you won’t have to worry too much. There are multiple ways of binding hard cover books, but for the case of simplicity, let’s stick to the idea that you are just looking at the simplest and cheapest way of doing that, which is perfect binding it with glue.  However, if you are going to be looking for an economical choice and you aren’t ordering books in the thousands, any hardcover option will be pricey.

Standard Case Bound Book: This is your standard hard cover book. It has a cloth, leather or vinyl type of material covering the “hard” or “case” cover. The most economical material that you can get your books covered with would be the ones of the vinyl variety. With these books you will also get what is called a foil stamp on them. This would be the writing on your spine and cover. You can choose from a variety of colors, including gold and silver. You can even do designs on the front, if you are willing to pay extra for it. I have seen some beautiful books created this way.

Dust Jackets: Commonly you will see people pair their standard case bound books up with dust jackets. Essentially, this is the cover of the book with 2-3” flaps (typically) that can wrap around the case bound book, and be removed. These are usually printed on an 80# gloss text weight stock, and then laminated on one side. A classic, and often beautiful looking choice, this isn’t the most hardy way to go if you want a real cover on your case bound book. I am sure that we all have a large collection of hard cover books that have dust jackets that look like they’ve witnessed far better days. That is, of course, assuming that you aren’t like me, who has a collection of bare case bound books and an equally large collection of missing dust jackets, likely eaten by one of the family pets, a toddler or two, or just forever gone to the place where things like the matching partner to your sock goes to. Just as a note, unless you want to pay to go to offset for your dust jacket, the limit for most digital printers would be a 6 or 6.5 x 9 book. When you add the 3 inch flaps, the spine, and then the 12 inches in width of the cover itself, you are quickly approaching the 20 inch maximum mark.

Lithowraps: This is my personal favorite when it comes to case bound books. Previously reserved for things like text books, this type of binding is becoming more popular with books from every genre. Hardy and guaranteed to keep your dust jacket attached to the book, it is easy to see why. Essentially, they take your printed and laminated cover, and wrap it around the “case” or “hard” cover. There it stays, attached, and difficult to damage. This is becoming especially popular in hard cover children’s books, for very obvious reasons. This option, typically, is also cheaper than the dust jacket option.

For more information on self publishing, please visit our website

What type of paper should I use for my book?

paperWhen it comes to paper types for your book, it really will seem that the options are endless.

The first decision that you need to make is whether or not you want white or natural. There are a lot of shades of white and natural out there, so be prepared.

Your next decision will be whether having a recycled stock matters to you. Many stocks contain a percentage of post consumer waste, so don’t be afraid to ask about the papers that your printer has. I will warn you though, 100% recycled stocks tend to have visible fibers in them, and they also will run you a higher bill at the end of the day.

Additional Tips for Choosing Book Paper

So now you know 2 steps; what color of paper do I want for my book, and do I want an Eco stock? From there, you can move forward. Ask your rep for their opinion. Tell them what things matter to you, and what attributes you are looking for. If you want a really opaque stock, they can help you to find it. If, at the end of the day, all that you want is a white stock, and you don’t really care otherwise, ask them for a sample of their white floor stock. If you like it, this will likely be your most cost effective choice.

If you have a very specific want or need for paper, find a sample of what it is that you are looking for, like in a book with that stock, and show it to your rep. It is best going to help them to find the best paper to meet your needs.

With that being said, if you have a really unique stock that you are loving, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket with it. Unfortunately, really unique stocks either have to be ordered from the mills in huge quantities of paper, or they don’t bind well. If you are after something unique, try to be open minded, and have a few different options in mind.

I personally really enjoy 50# or 60# interior stocks and a weight of about 10pt or 12pt for the cover. If they are going to be printing inside of their cover, I recommend a 100# Matte Cover stock to my clients.

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