Product Questions


Digital Printing of Books


Posted: 20 January 2009

Hi Hal, just come across this one. When we print A4 sheets on the digital press we print them two-up A3 to save on cost and time. But if I set a book up to print two-up it doubles the number of pages for each section you print two-up so a 4-page signature becomes an 8-page and so on. Have I missed something here or have I just found you more work?

. . . . .  Clive Jaques

Your post couldn't have come at a better time. I'm just finishing up the video on the Booklet Module, where page counts are dealt with in some detail. The short answer to your question is, yes, the program is doing what's it's supposed to.

Doubling the page count when you double the x-up is more critical with offset than it is with digital. But even there, it matters at the bindery end if the booklet is saddlestitched or perfect bound. With any other type of binding, imposition is less of an issue in the digital world, seeing there are no plate or setup costs.

If Craig is listening, maybe he'll come in on this. He's seriously into digital, and I know he's using Fusion Pro Desktop as his impositioning and Variable Data Publishing tool (On PrintPlanet, he says it's the best $500 he ever spent).

See, Craig? I'm trying to keep up.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Hi Hal, thanks for the quick reply, looks like its back to pen on job ticket for the printing for the moment.

. . . . .  Clive Jaques

Clive, reading between the lines, would that "pen on job ticket" involve spelling out the number of booklet pages on each bookpage job ticket, in addition to the page count that's now showing on the booklet job ticket?

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Hal, I will chime in now and add to Clive. I understand when running booklets on a 40" offset press why you would want the booklets to impose the way MF is currently doing it. But I think Clive (I assume) and myself are only running a 2-up press or with digital printing, and a smaller bookletmaker (mine is a Watkiss Vario collater with bookmaster/trimaster pro).

When I run a 5.5 x 8.5 saddle stitched book I will impose 2-up repeating the image on the 11 x 17 or 12 x 18 sheet. If I need 100 books I run 50 sheets of each page, guillotine-trim them to 8.5 x 11 and run them through the collator/bookletmaker.

Maybe there could be a imposition check box or something for those who repeat the same spread vs the way MF is currently doing it with multiple signatures on the same page.

Yes Hal, Fusion Pro Desktop is working very well, but it's still not as great a deal as Morning Flight!

. . . . .  Craig

You're probably right about that checkbox for imposition. I'll put it on my to do list. What I still can't understand is why, for a 5.5x8.5 booklet printed by offset, you're running the same 8.5x11 4-page booksheet 2-up on 11x17, instead of running an 8-page signature.

I can see where it makes no difference with digital, but even on a small offset press, you would save half the plates and half the setups, with exactly the same total run time. And you still wouldn't have to cross-fold. Once the job leaves the press, the remaining steps are identical: cut the signatures in half and feed 8.5x11 sheets into your bookletmaker.

You'd have to be a little more careful with imposition, making sure four front pages are backed up properly instead of only two, but with Fusion Pro Desktop (or even an old-fashioned paper dummy), isn't that a cakewalk? What am I missing here?

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Ok, using the current MF imposition logic, I need to quote a 12-page 5.5 x 8.5 self cover booklet and I want to run it 2-up on an 11x17 press sheet, it can't be done. I only have an option for 8 and 16 pages, the third signature throws it for a loop. Unless I am missing something, the only thing I see is to make two 2-page inserts?

. . . . .  Craig

Craig, I see where you're going with this. Instead of yet another button, what if inserts could be run as 4-pagers in saddlestitched/perfectbound booklets? In other words, when you run a regular content page 2-up, it doubles the page count. When you run it as an insert 2-up, it would leave the page count at four, but cut the run quantity of the insert in half. About as elegant a solution as I can think of.

In your present scenario, the 12-page booklet would now consist of either three 4-page inserts, or one 4-page insert and one 8-page signature. When you want run everything as 2-up step/repeat, you designate all the contents as inserts (the cover works that way now - can't have an 8-page cover). Otherwise, go with conventional booklet imposition and enter as much content as you can as traditional signatures.

The reason inserts are currently 2-pagers, even for saddle/perfect books, is because they're usually reply cards with just a flap portruding into the opposing pages. I see no reason why even those inserts couldn't be treated as 4-pagers. After all, the page count mainly affects bindery costs, and an insert consumes as much time and effort as a regular signature. Sometimes more.

Making that change would significantly increase the flexibility of the program, without any serious downside. And we wouldn't need another button. You know how I like to keep things simple. For cousin Mel. With this much flux, maybe the "How to Estimate Booklets" video shouldn't have been the first demo on my list.

BTW, Morning Flight would have envisioned your 12-pager as one 8-page 11x17 signature and one 4-page 8.5x11 cover, printed 2-up on 11x17.

And yes, you're right, Morning Flight is a super deal! Thank you for saying that. Stay warm in Ohio. We're going back into the freezer here in New York!

. . . . .  Hal Heindel


So are you saying I should include a cover/back on all the books even if it is a self cover?

. . . . .  Craig

Not neccesarily, Craig. Only if it evens out the page count on saddlestitched/perfect bound booklets.

Spiral/Wire/GBC books are unlikely to ever be self-cover, so there you'll always want to include covers. That's because more than the page count comes into play. For one thing, if you run the cover 2-up, MF assumes you're printing the front and the back cover on the same sheet, and consequently disables the entry box for the back cover. With Offset, why make two sets of 4C plates when the press is large enough to include both covers on a single set of plates?

What are your thoughts on making all saddle/perfect inserts 4-pages? I've gone over it again and can't find any pitfalls.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel

Is there any difference in the price between an insert and a content? In other words will four inserts be priced the same as one content page, if I am using the current pricing structure?

If the prices are the same then I don't think a change is necessary. The proper structure of pricing a booklet may just need to be clarified for the thick-skulled folks like me.

. . . . .  Craig

I wish it were that simple. Accounting for all the variables in booklet pricing is as sure of a successful outcome as nailing Jello to a tree. In broad strokes, though, here is what it looks like:

Bindery costs are primarily determined by the page count. Doesn't matter whether it's a signature or an insert. Other factors enter into it, such as cutting if an insert is run 2-up, or cross folding if a saddle/perfect signature contains more than four pages. But mainly, it's the page count.

Printing and paper costs are determined by the individual price sheets. Say you're quoting on 1,000 8.5x11 saddlestitched booklets. For a 1-up, 4-page signature, we charge for 1,000 11x17 booksheets. For a 2-up, 8-page signature, we charge for 1,000 17x22 booksheets. For 1-up, 2-page 5x7 postcard inserts, we add the price of 1,000 5x7 postcards. For 2-up, 2-page 5x7 postcards, we add the price of 500 7x10 postcards, plus cutting. Morning Flight automatically consolidates paper and ink costs. If two or more signatures use the same paper, and the total quantity leads to the next bracket, paper costs are charged in that bracket.

What I'm proposing is this: Keep signatures as is. Ditto for Spiral/Wire/GBC inserts. Inserts for saddle/perfect, however, will now be counted as four pages instead of two. That mainly affects bindery costs. There is no change in the cost of printing.

For a 1-up, 4-page 11x17 insert, the price would be for 1,000 11x17 booksheets. For a 2-up, 4-page saddle/perfect insert, we step and repeat (just as we do now with saddle/perfect covers), charge for 500 17x22 booksheets, and add cutting. In other words, the count for inserts always stays fixed at two pages for Spiral/Wire/GBC, and four pages for saddle/perfect.

The rationale is that when we make signatures bigger, we want more pages. When we run inserts 2-up, we want to shorten the press run. It's unlikely we'd want two different inserts. But that, too, can be accommodated by increasing the count in the box circled below.

Seems to me that having a choice between running the same size bookpage as either a signature or an insert, with different results, will give us more options.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel


Clear as mud! I am leaning towards what you are proposing with the inserts for saddle/perfect binding. That seems like the most common sense approach.

. . . . .  Craig

We printers are but simple folk! I am with Craig on this one, seems more logical to me too but let's see how it works out when we start using it.

. . . . .  Clive Jaques

Thanks, guys. Guess we'll go with it then. The only visible change will be four pages instead of two for saddle/perfect inserts, and a slight uptick in bindery costs for those types of inserts.

. . . . .  Hal Heindel