Book on Demand:

Basic Information and Links

by Roger MacBride Allen
last update:August 19, 2000

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Introduction

This article by no means represents all the research I have done on Book-On-Demand (BOD) printing. It is intended as an overview, and to provide a list of the issues and tasks involved in book-on-demand printing.

See the books listed below for a more detailed discussion of most of the points discussed in this article. Just about every topic discussed briefly in this article is explored in more detail in one of them.

The links in this article provide a fairly comprehensive list of Book-on-Demand-related places on the Internet I have found so far, more or less broken out into categories. The article starts with a brief discussion of books on the subject (including mine!), then runs through a general discussion of what is needed in order to make your own books. It then continues with a more detailed discussion of several issues involved in BOD.

I have done my best to get this up to date, and to provide as much useful information as I practically can in the limited format of a web-based article. If you have any further information or ideas, please write to me at roger@d-books.net and give me your thoughts.

There are probably a good number of typos and dead links in this page, though I have done my best to get it cleaned up and ready to go. Working it over any more at this point would be a case of better being the enemy of good. It makes more sense to get the information out there with a few imperfections, rather that holding it back trying to get it perfect. But if you do spot any errors in this page, or have some leads that would be worth adding, please let me know at the above email address.

RMA
August 19, 2000


Table of Contents


Books on BOD and Useful Information Sources

I know of three books specifically on the subject of Book-on-Demand Printing. They are as follows:

BOOK ON DEMAND PUBLISHING by Rupert Evans is a very useful general book on BOD. It is full of excellent information, though some of the discussion on computer software is somewhat dated. It is available from Flash Magazine/Blacklightning Press. Phone 1-800-252-2500, or write Black Lightning, Riddle Pond Road, West Topsham, Vermont 05086. Price $20.00 plus shipping and handling. Rupert Evans, the author of the book, has his own rather modest web page at www.staff.uiuc.edu/~r-evans4.home.html. There are several useful links from his page.

THE PERFECT BINDING HANDBOOK by Chet Novicki is useful, though it focuses all but exclusively on the one effective, but somewhat limited, hand-binding technique that can best be done with the reasonably-priced hardware sold by Gigabooks. It's closer to being a helpful and informative pamphlet about his techniques and products than it is a full-blown book on the subject. Still, it provides a detailed discussion of what might be the only BOD technique you'll need. It is published by Mr. Novicki's company, GigaBooks, at www.gigabooks.net, P.O. Box 90674, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96835-0674. Price $12.95 plus shipping and handling.

And then, there's A QUICK GUIDE TO BOOK ON DEMAND PRINTING, by me, Roger MacBride Allen. This book is available from FoxAcre Press at www.foxacre.com. Price $19.50 plus shipping and handling. I have tried to write a book that complements, rather than competes, with Dr. Evans' book. My book covers a number of topics that he does not (such as other publishing alternatives, small automatic binding machines and specialized fulfillment software), and touching only briefly on topics he covers in great detail (such as paper stock and paper selection).

I have all three books on my bookshelf, and I would strongly suggest that anyone interested in book-on-demand do the same.

Another useful source of information is Don Lancaster's PostScript Guru's Lair home page at www.tinaja.com. You can jump directly to his page on BOD printing at http://www.tinaja.com/bod01.html where you can find various columns he has written. Some of the columns, reprinted from various magazines, merely touch on book-on-demand, while BOD is main focus of other articles. You'll need an Acrobat Reader ( available free at http://www.adode.com) to view most of this website. Some of the information is a bit dated. To exaggerate a trifle, to read Don Lancaster's is to get the impression he feels that the universe as a whole could be better run under PostScript Level 2.0 programming. However, there is useful info here. One slight irony: my copy of his Book-On-Demand kit, which includes the aforementioned columns along with other information on how to make your own bound books, came as loose pages with holes for three-ring binders. Price $39.50 plus shipping and handling.

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The Book-on-Demand Process

The discussion that follows is concerned almost entirely with the actual manufacture of books. There are many, many topics it does not cover, for example: promotion, setting up a web page to sell books, standard contracts for writers, ISBN numbers, pricing, distribution, etc. While these are all things that need doing, it seems to me that setting up a book layout and manufacturing process is the key first step.

The process below assumes that book-on-demand publishers are doing trade-press sized paperback books with perfect binding, with some, most, or all of the manufacturing in-house.


Book layout, so far as book-on-demand publishers are concerned, consist of the following steps:

The publisher need only each of the above tasks once per title. These steps do not have to take place in the same place book-on-demand publishers are printing the books. Freelancers working offsite could do all or some of the above work.

In contrast, the publisher must do each of the following steps every time she or he prints a book. Life will be a lot easier if all these steps took place in one locale. However, once the printing files are created and can be distributed on disk or via FTP or email, there is no reason not to print books in more than one place.

Book printing so far as book-on-demand publishers are concerned, would consist of the following steps:

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PostScript and Acrobat

PostScript is a interpreted programming language, used almost exclusively for printing. A PostScript printer is really a computer that understands this language, and produces its output on paper. When a word processor or page layout program prints to a PostScript printer, what it is really doing is writing a PostScript program (consisting of ASCII text characters) that will run under the PostScript interpreter inside the printer. If you tell the word processor to print to disk it will write that same program in ASCII text to disk, where it can be stored. edited, copied, and then sent to any other PostScript printer. Just as any DOS program is supposed to run on any DOS-based computers, any PostScript program, or print-file, should run on any PostScript printer, from a 300 DPI home printer to a 2400 DPI imagesetter. And, just as with DOS programs, not everything is quite as compatible as it is supposed to be.

PostScript is the standard for DTP. It is extremely powerfully and flexible. Anyone in the printing business has to be able to handle it. Acrobat (PDF) files are based on PostScript as well.

While I still believe that book-on-demand publishers need to deal with PostScript, I am not as much of a true believer as I used to be as regards the notion that that everything needs to be in PostScript at all times. In short, PostScript is important, but it is not synonymous with BOD. Here are some places to learn more:

A First Guide to PostScript. A very useful introduction to the programming language.

Aladdin GhostScript. GhostScript is a very powerful PostScript emulator that allows you to fool with PostScript code even if you don't have a PS printer. It will allow you to print PostScript files to most standard non-PostScript files. GhostScript is not easy to deal with (get the Ghostview front end and you'll be glad you did) but it is very helpful when you want to get a look at what a PostScript program output looks like. With GhostScript running on your computer, you'll be able to experiment with PostScript, whether or not you have a PostScript printer. It will also allow you to print out a PostScript file to a non-PostScript printer. I would strongly suggest that anyone looking at any aspect of BOD get GhostScript. Far warning: the documentation for GhostScript is pretty rough going. A good, printed, GhostScript manual would be a great help. Further fair warning: I have many times had GhostScript bomb out when processing a file that otherwise worked just fine printing to disk, or being distilled into Acrobat. I am far from an expert on GhostScript, and no doubt I could tune the program somehow to avoid these crashes, but life is too short.

Adobe's Acrobat is based in large part on PostScript, and Acrobat files generally print very quickly on PostScript printers. Free copies of the Acrobat Reader program for Windows, Mac, Linux and OS/2 are available at Adode's web site. files are produced by Adobe Distiller, (or by various third-party program). According to Don Lancaster, Distiller can be used as a PostScript emulator, allowing you to run more complex PS programs on it. This is also true of GhostScript, but GhostScript is such a struggle all by itself this can be tough to do.

I was over at the Capella Archive (see below) and came across a mention of "The Net Distillers" at www.babinszki.com/distiller/. According to the instructions on the page, you can upload a PostScript file to this site, wait about three minutes, and then download a PDF file. This sounds neat, and it ought to work, but I have gotten it to work.

More PostScript help. This sites contains a large number of useful links.

The Capella Archive at www.cappella.demon.co.uk includes a lot of nifty information on book-on-demand and on PostScript. They provide a U.K. based print-on-demand service, and also information -- and PostScript code -- that, in theory, should allow you to generate your own self-printing books. Lots of PostScript and BOD links.

Don Lancaster PostScript Guru's Lair home page. See discussion of this website in the introduction of this article.

There is a set of programs for manipulating PostScript files. They are available at PSUTILS or PSUTILS-TWO. I haven't checked the latest version, but the versions I did see were about as easy to deal with as a nuclear reactor. However, they can be worth having. I must report that I have yet to find a set of PostScript manipulation programs that was remotely easy to work with.

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Printers

Printers are evolving fast, fast enough that is barely worth discussion specific models. However, a discussion of the printer features useful to BOD printers should be of some use.

Typically, a BOD printer will use a color ink-jet printer for the cover (though color laser printers are becoming much more affordable) and a laser printer for the interior pages.

Whatever your application, avoid any printer, ink-jet or laser, that describes itself as Windows Only. What Windows Only means is that the printer's manufacturer has saved money by relying on Windows -- and your computer -- to do most of the processing required to get the image on the page. The result is a printer that slows down your computer, because it is stealing processing capacity from the computer, and a printer that won't work under DOS, Linux, OS/2, the Mac operating software, etc. It might not even work on Windows 3.1!

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Laser Printers

You need a printer that prints as fast as possible. Your printer should be able to handle PostScript Level 2, and PostScript 3 if possible. It used to be that people were very wary of printers that emulated PostScript, and that printers with genuine PostScript provided by Adobe were vastly to be preferred. I have seen much less concern on this point recently, and I take it to mean that the PostScript emulators have gotten to be pretty good.

Your printer should have the ability to do duplex (double-sided) printing. (Usually, but not always, the duplexer is a accessory purchased separately from the printer itself.) You need a printer that is reliable and has low operating costs. A large paper capacity, and flexible paper handling (i.e., being able to deal with odd paper sizes) are also important. A printer that does 20 pages per minute but that only holds 100 sheets of paper is not going to be much use. Just as a side note, pretty much any PC-compatible printer that does PostScript will also handle PCL, the printer language used by HP and just about every other brand of laser printer. Your printer should provide output of at least 600 DPI (dots per inch) but 300 is acceptable for text-only in a pinch. If you can get 1200 DPI, get it.

You could get by with a slower printer that doesn't do duplexing and doesn't have PostScript, but it would be a struggle, to put it mildly. You won't be able to print books quickly, or very well, on a light-weight printer with modest specs.

Other features to look for and points to consider:

I have given up trying to track or suggest specific models, as the models change so fast that it's impossible to stay current. Suffice to say that Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark both offer printers that can do it all. NEC has just come out with a fast printer, with built-in duplexer, for under $1,000. It may or may not have the PostScript module installed at that price, but PostScript is available for it.

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Ink-Jet Printers

Books need color covers to look like real books. Black ink or toner on colored paper can be acceptable in certain circumstances, but generally speaking, the best way is full-color printing on white paper stock. While color laser printers are getting a lot cheaper, ink-jet printers are still probably the better choice for most book-on-demand printers at this point. Here are some of the features to look for, and traps to avoid, in ink-jet printers.


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Toner and Ink Cartridge Reloaders

There are lots of printer toner refillers out there, and they are worth taking a look at. By refilling toner cartridges, you should be able to cut our toner cost in half. On a 400-page book, that could work out to saving something like a dollar on the materials cost per book. However, reloaded cartridges have their drawbacks. Using them instead of new cartridges sold by the printer manufacturer might void your warranty. Sometimes the quality is not the greatest. I have had good luck with reloaded cartridges in general, but I had some very bad luck when I tried Verbatim cartridges. The first one I received had a bent gear, so it made a terrible racket. They sent a replacement. However, after about five thousand pages the replacement (rated for 17,000 pages) they sent me starting leaving light spots when toner should have gone, and then started leaving a faint grey mist of toner all over the page. I don't know if that was a new or reloaded Verbatim cartridge, but I'm not planning to do much more business with them anyway.

Another point is that there are also ink-jet cartridge reloaders, and reloading kits available. Reloading ink cartridges can be a mess, but should cut your ink costs about in half. You should be able to do even better by buying bulk ink.

Herewith, several links to sites for reloaders and ink suppliers.

Rupert Evans wrote to me and put in a strong word for BC Computer, at 201 East Highway 17, Houston, MO 65483 1-800-648-2759, Fax 417-967-4032. He reports that he uses them "exclusively."

Pendl is one cartridge reloader that looks like they know what they are doing..

National Toner Recycling and Supply, Inc. 29 Harbor Ave Norwalk CT 06850 (800)676-0749, fax (203)853-1258.www.nationaltoner.com. I am just now trying out one of their current toner cartridges for my Lexmark 4039 printer. It's working just fine so far, though the toner they use does not produce anywhere near as dense a black as the cartridge made by Lexmark.

WWW.Amazonimaging.com is the web site for Amazon Imaging. They offer a wide range of ink-jet supplies, laser cartridges, and speciality papers and films for printers.

Recharger Magazine is at www.rechargermag.com. This is a big glossy magazine given over entirely to the toner cartridge reloading industry.

American Ink Jet Corporation, 13 Alexander Road, Billerica, Massachusetts 01821. http://www.amjet.com

Renewable Resources, Inc. 1-800-RE-INK-IT. Staten Island, New York. www.renewableresources.com

DataProducts (division of Hitachi). 1-888-465-2428 http://www.dpcsupplies.com

http://www.oddparts.com/ink/ is the home page for ACSI Bulk Inks.

www.inkforyourprinter.com is the web site of National Laser and Inkjet Cartridge Service.

http://www.ribbontoner.com/inkjets/inkjet/inkjets.htm is the web site of the American Ribbon and Toner Company.

http://www.reinkkit.com is the website for Definitive Data Resources, another source of refills.

http://www.flashweb.com/Catalog.html is the website for Flash Magazine and Blacklightning, another toner reloader.

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Imposition Software

Imposition and RIP Software

Imposition software takes the pages of PostScript or Acrobat code -- or whatever sort of code -- and rearranges them so that, for example, an eight-page flyer has pages 1, 2, 7 and 8 printed on one sheet with pages 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the other, such that they can be folded together to give 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Easy enough to work out with eight pages, but try working it out in your head with 323 pages. Some of these programs also do some RIP work, and can do lots of other clever tricks with PostScript. A lot of these packages are horrifically pricey -- some cost $1000 or more. They are mainly meant for big print shops. However, the first two entries below are really quite affordable. Also, many word-processing and page-layout programs include some sort of imposition ability (usually called booklet printing or something like that. WordPro from Lotus does a nice job. Microsoft Word for Windows does not seem to have this handy feature.

Clickbook, from Blue Squirrel Software (available at either www.bluesquirrel.com or at www.clickbook.com is an excellent product for basic imposition. The latest version, Clickbook 2000, has just started to ship, and I have not yet had a chance to try it out. Blue Squirrel claims the new version does a good job on printing PDF files, which could come in very handy. It sells for about $50.

Legend Communications at www.legendcomm.com makes Double-Up, a Windows program that does imposition. They have a version for sale for about $259 that will do everything the average book-on-demand publisher will need. It has a downloadable demo that I have downloaded. the demo stamps each page it produces with a nag saying that it is demo software. A few caveats: One, Double-Up does not work with PostScript files generated by PageMaker 6.0 or higher. (I believe this is because PM6 and PM6.5 use a special driver information file type called PPDs for printing.) Legend's website describes a work-around, but it didn't work for me, and my emailed queries on the subject went unanswered. I have not beem able to log onto to the Legend Communnications site for several months, and attempts to reach them by phone have no luck either. With a littlle luck, they are still there and still doing business, or will be soon -- but I have no further information.

WWW.Quite.com is the home of Quite Software, whuch sells Quite Imposing, an Imposition program that works with Acrobat files. You'll need the full version of Acrobat (not just the free Reader) and then the Quite program, which costs 199 British pounds. Pricey.

INposition 1.6 This software only works with Quark, the competitor to PageMaker.

PrePRESS Main Street also sells imposotion software.

Farrukh Page Imposition Software Another page-imposer which can be downloaded. The demo will run, but it will ask for a dongle (a security gizmo that plugs into the parallel port of your computer and passes an unlocking code to the software). The software lets you see the system works, but won't let you do anything. Again, this is a rather pricey piece of software that's really intended for large printshops.

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Trimming and Binding

Trimming

Nearly all Book-On-Demand printing techniques require that one cut thick stacks of paper. Pages must be cut apart, and bound books must be trimmed to size. An office paper trimmer is nowhere near being up to the job. A BOD printer needs something that can cut fifty or a hundred or two hundred sheets of paper at once, neatly and precisely. The only really good way to do this is with a heavy-duty guillontine cutter. These can be found used. Search for "used printing equipment" and variants thereof on the web and you'll come across lots of places to shop. Most new ones sell for upwards of a thousand dollars, or even several thousand dollars. For the most part, these are floor-mounted models that use electricity and/or hydraulics to slice the stacks of paper. The Printer's Shopper (www.printersshopper.com) 111 Press Lane, Chula Vista, CA 91910-1093 Phone: 800-854-2911 sells a small, lever-operated unit from Martin Yale for about $700. (Note: this item is available from their catalog, but I could not find it on their website.) As of January 15, 2000, it was also available at www.works.com for about $625. They also sold the Quartet Stack Cutter, (www.quartetmfg.com) with similar specs, for about $700. See the Martin-Yale website, www.martinyale.comfor the specs on their cutter, the 7000E. One of these units ought to be about all the cutter most BOD printers will need. It is also possible to buy cutting service from a local print shop, but this can get expensive. One other note: see the section on paper below to read about Imation's pre-perfed paper.


Binding

Now we come to the heart of the matter, and the part that, at least to me, struck me as the most difficult and mysterious part of the job of making books. How did they get the paper to stick together edge-on like that? How did they turn stacks of paper into books?

This section of this article is excerpted and adapted from my book, A Quick Guide to Book-On-Demand Printing. The subjects discussed here are examined in more detail in the book. Both this article and the book are interested in binding procedures that produce real paperback books: pages bound together inside a matched paper cover with a flexible, printed spine.

There are many, many ways of binding books that don't match this description, from simply stapling a few pages together, to spiral-binding, and velobinding, and so on. But holding pages together is not enough. There are very few velo-bound books on sale at the local bookshop, and precious few spiral-bound volumes at the local library. The idea here is to produce books that look like books. We'll start by taking a look at "office" thermal binders, and see why they don't really fit the bill. A look at the shortcomings of these machines will help the prospective BOD printer understand the things he or she wants in a binding system.

We'll then take a brief look at the basic cold-glue binding technique. We won't cover quite a number of topics and techniques listed in the books described at the top of this article. Both for reasons of length, and to keep from giving the whole store away, I am leaving out discussions of many other binding techniques and machines covered in my book, as well as Dr. Evans's book and Mr. Novicki's book.

It has taken me a long time to figure out that binding books together is not anywhere near as difficult or mysterious as I thought-- or, more accurately, as I allowed myself to be convinced it was. I thought glues were not as good as they are, and that bonding pieces of paper together edge on was a tremendous technical challenge for the basement binder.

Short-Run "Office" Thermal Binding Systems

There are quite a number of office thermal binders on the market. While the details change from model to model, the average office thermal binder is nothing more or less than a heater with a non-stick pad the right size and shape to hold a book spine-down, plus maybe a thermostat and a timer. A heater in the binder melts a glue inside the specially-made binding covers, and that thermal glue is what holds the pages together. These machines usually have no moving parts. You can expect to pay several hundred dollars for one -- and several hundred more for the proprietary covers the binding machine company will sell you. Generally speaking, these covers come in a limited number of sizes. Nearly all of the brands make covers for letter-sized paper only, and in every case that I know about, you have to order whatever printing you want from the manufacturer, in lots of something like fifty or a hundred. If you have five different titles and want to do twenty of each, you're out of luck.

Many of the binding systems don't even do spine printing for you, let alone allow you to do it for yourself. None of these systems is more than a heater with a thermostat and maybe a timer. A few up toward and beyond the $1000 range have features such as a heating plate that rocks back and forth a little, jogging the paper to make sure it comes in contact with the adhesive. For $1000 I can wiggle the pages back and forth myself.

Virtually all of these systems are as interested in getting you to buy their special, advanced, high-tech, custom-made covers (on which they probably make a lot of money) as they are interested in getting you to buy their binder. It's sort of a system of mini-monopolies: each bindery-system seller wants to convince you that ONLY their binders will work in their machine, and that you MUST use only their brand of binding cover or your warranty will be voided, the skies will fall, and all your bindings will explode.

At least, the bindery system companies want you to believe only their covers will work. My guess is that brand X covers would work just fine in brand Y heaters, assuming they heat to more or less the same temperature. A heater is a heater.

The makers of these office binding systems want to lock you in, get you committed to their products -- but their systems don't suit the needs of a home book-on-demand operation. You want to print any book you want, with any width and length of spine you want, and want to be able to put different printing on all your covers.

They want all your books to have eleven-inch long spines and pages 8 inches wide, to have spine widths that closely conform to what they feel like manufacturing, and to have you utterly dependent on them for the printing on the cover, most likely selling you a hundred covers at a clip.

You don't have to play along. None of these systems is anything more than a way to melt glue to bond pages to cover. They are pretty obviously aimed at the corporate office market, where they might actually make sense, and where you can sell a $40 heater for $400 if you call it high-tech office equipment.

These aren't bad products. They work, and they do what they set out to do. But what they do is not what you want to do. The products are simply a poor fit for the book-on-demand printer. Fortunately, you have other choices. Buy and read Book on Demand Publishing by Rupert Evans to learn about his easy-to-make thermal binding system. For the price of his $20 book, and about $50 to $100 in parts and materials, you'll be ready to use The Evans Do-It-Yourself Thermal Binding System to bind books every bit as good, if not better, than what an office thermal binding system can do. (My book, A Quick Guide to Book-On-Demand Printing, discusses Dr. Evans' techniques briefly.

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Cold Glue Binding

Cold glue might better be termed room-temperature glue. The term distinguishes these books from the hot-glue techniques described above, and isn't meant to suggest these glues dry in the refrigerator. Some of the glues used, but not all, are water-based, and can therefore be dissolved in water. Others, I gather, don't weaken in water. It seems to me that "air-drying" is a more accurate general term, but "cold glue" sounds better, and is the term in general use.

Cold glues have advantages and disadvantages when compared to thermal glues. The big drawback is drying time. A thermal binding takes only a few minutes to cool, and then it's ready to go. A cold-glue binding might take up to several hours to dry. Cold glues often require several coats of adhesive, which means you have to go back every x period of timelabor-intensivesecond or third coat. It's a more labor-intenstive process.

On the upside, cold glues can (but don't necessarily) provide a stronger bond. The glue tends to migrate into the paper a bit, and that means they can be used on papers -- such as coated stock -- that don't adhere well using thermal glues. But perhaps the most important advantage is that the minimum equipment list for small-scale cold-glue binding is:

Aside from the cost of a pot of glue, five bucks (ten if you get fancier clamps) turns you into a bookbinder.

A very quick summing up of cold-glue binding for a paperback book would be as follows:

Jog the pages so that the spine-edge is squared up. Put the pages between two boards, with the spine edge peeking out, and weight or clamp in position.

Paint the spine edge with two or three thin coats of glue. For extra strength, take a piece of muslin the length of the spine and a bit wider, and lay it over the last coat of glue. Wrap the excess muslin around the front and back covers and glue it in place.

Allow to dry. Once dry, paint the inside spine edge of your scored book cover with glue, and glue it to the spine of your pages. Allow to dry.

There are endless variations on this procedure, but that is basically that.

The obvious question at this point is, what sort of glue to use? Evans says that a padding compound adhesive from Wisdom's Adhesives, #150F, is the best. Evans advises one coat of the #150F diluted with water, and a second undiluted coat applied about five minutes later. Allow the second coat to dry for at least an hour.

I have used Aleene's Tacky Glue (available at craft stores) with good success. Yellow carpenter's glue is not a good idea, and Elmer's white glue is a worse one, as these glues are not really flexible enough for service in a binding.

One way to improve a cold-glue bind is to fan the pages, bending them back and forth so the glue reaches, not just the edge of the page, but the first millimeter or two of the back and front of the page. This can be tricky and messy to do. Rupert Evans reports: "I am double fan-gluing all of my premium books now, using the fan gluer put out by Peter Jermann, TeMPeR Productions 117 South 14th St. Olean, NY 14760 Tel. 716-373-9450 Email: temper@csi.com It costs about $450 and is a work of art." I have no further information on this device at this time, but that's a very strong reccomendation.

See the books listed at the top of this article for more information on a variety of binding techniques.


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Paper

Choosing the right paper is probably a subject that deserves a whole web page of its own, but a few very quick notes here will get you started on the issues you're most likely to need to worry about. (See Dr. Evans' book for a detailed discussion of paper specs and choosing paper.) Paper weight is a measure of how much a given number of pages of a given size will weigh. This system is damned confusing, and not all that helpful. There are two or three conflicting means of measuring paper. Suffice to say that most paper sold these days is 20 pound, (sometimes called 20/50 weight or 20/50 pound) which is not not really heavy enough for book pages. A better choice would be 24 pound, sometimes called 24/60 pound.

Paper brightness and opacity are also important. These are measured in scales with 100 being the highest and best. Most papers are 84-87 brightness. Try for a 90 or better brightness. To oversimplify, a brighter paper is whiter, and makes your black text easier to read. The higher the opacity value, the less "show-through" there will be. In other words, if a paper isn't opaque enough, the printing on the other side of the page will show through. Usually it's easy to find the paper's weight on the label. Often, but not always, the label will report the brightness. It's rare for the labels to report the opacity. However, 24 pound paper of 90 or better brightness is likely to be sufficiently opaque.

For those BOD printers who do not have and can't afford a heavy-duty paper-cutter, there is a specially perferated paper from Imation (www.imation.com). This letter-size page stock is perfed down the middle so it can be split into two half-letter size pages after printing. As of of January 15, 2000, their website had no information on their speciality papers, but this product does exist.

Paper Stock for Covers

Paper for cover stock should be heavier than page stock. But there is more to it than that. The images put down on paper by laser printer toner, or by ink-jet printer ink, are simply not robust enough to endure the punishment that the average book cover receives. Either the covers will have to be printed on some sort of special paper, or else it will have to be protected with some sort of varnish or laminate. RexamDSI (WWW.Rexamdsi.com) makes a paper it calls "ImagEase" that it describes as a "latex-saturated substrate." This material absorbs color or black laster toner completely enough that it can serve as a cover without lamination or treatment. Note -- their website does not discuss this material, but you can use the website to find contact information. Call or write the company for information.)

Many ink-jet inks are vulnerable to moisture. Even a reader with sweaty palms can be enough to damage a cover image. Mistubishi Imaging (WWW.Mitsubishiimaging.com) makes a line of paper called "Diamond Jet" that includes a stock called "Artist." This paper absorbs ink-jet pigment enough to become much more water resistant. This paper works quite well, but feels a bit odd to the touch. Amazon Imaging (www.amazonimaging.com) makes what appears to be a similar stock, as does Folex at www.folex.com. I have not tested the Amazon or Folex material. Hewlett Packard makes a line of roll papers in 24 and 36 inch widths, which could be cut down. Some of these are supposed to be water-resistant.

Another approach would be to put down a laminate or varnish over the cover. There are lots of ways to go on this, but here are a couple of quick leads on ways to do it on the cheap. Library Binding Service, at www.lbsbind.com sells a variety of laminates than can be attached by hand. Xyron, at www.xyron.com makes an excellent cold laminating system. Xyron offers a single-side laminate, which is the best way to go for book covers.

Just by the way, the sort of pouch laminators sold in office supply stores aren't really right for covers. They put down too thick a laminate, and the laminate pockets are too expensive to be economical in a print run of any length at all.


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Miscellaneous


This is this a somewhat random collection of links. There is paydirt, in terms of BOD information, out there somewhere. If you find something interesting, let me know.
J. Hewit & Sons Ltd. is a British bookbinding supply firm, where you can find all sort of cool bookbinding supplies. Their U.S. distributor is The Bookbinders Warehouse, 31 Division Street, Keyport, NJ 07735, phone (908)264-0306, fax 264-8266, email KarenC5071@aol.com. Worth looking into.
Resources for Letterpress Printers is just that. Have a look.
Book Arts Links More about hand-made hardcovers than BOD, but with some BOD info, and interesting in its own right.
Scriptorium Magazine is, I think, a strictly on-line site and magazine for graphic arts people who do lovely work but need to get out more. Worth looking at.
The Print Shopper lets you place ads to buy and sell printing equipment.
TPXonline -- This site calls itself "the Global Graphic Arts Connection." That's all very well, but it's also a place to buy and sell equipment.
PostScript Processing Speed Test is an interesting program designed to test PostScript printers.
Quick Print Products --- A sort of sub-magazine linked to Graphic Arts Magazine.
PrintNation looks like an interesting place to buy supplies and hardware. They have an auction section, where I saw several BOD-appropriate cutters on offer.
DesktopPublishing.Com has lots of everything, and then some.
PrinterNet, The Online Network for the Graphic Arts Industry is "under construction" in about twelve different languages at the moment.
Brackett Binding This is one of the least informative web sites I have ever seen. They sell book binding equipment.
Rosback, another maker of binding equipment, is at www.qtm.net/rosback/.
Standard Duplicating Machines is at www.sdmc.com. They make the Standard Bindfast 5c, an excellent machine and the one I chose. They also make the BQ-140,a higher-end model, and the BQ-P6, a smaller binding system. The 5c and the BQ-P6 are worth checking out.


Version history:

August 19, 2000. Moved page into "d-books.net" webpage, corrected typos, adjusted links

July 14, 2000. Established d-books.net as separate web address.

May 30, 2000. Update internal links.

January 25, 2000. Added infomation from Rupert Evans on double-fanning and BC Computers, and added link to the Net Distillery.

January 14-15, 2000. Corrected a few typos, deleted a dead link or two, and updated info on not being able to reach Legend Communications. Added the section on paper stock. Confirmed, added, and deleted some of the miscellaneous links.

January 5, 2000. First version posted to foxacre website. This version based on an memo, written in HTML, intended for private circuluation, in about 1997. Obviously, some links were dated.

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