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Book Publishing Glossary of Terms

Innovation Solution Glossary of Book Publishing and Sideline Product Terms

Thousands of books come and go and then there are "Books" that make a lasting impression on their readers, their community, and their culture. The innovative book is one of the handiest inventions of mankind -- a portable repository of our culture and a vision of our future.

Books hold a world of imagination between their covers. A world of community. And a world of possibilities -- all rolled into one simple format. Treasures of ideas and wisdom are found in simple little pages between glorious book covers!

Looks can be deceiving at times -- and the simple book is not so simple. But then, most good things in life are more complex than they first appear. And good things in life are well worth the effort required to create them!

There is little in life as rewarding as holding your first book in your hand! That's because you know your book is a treasury of your ideas and that it took blood, sweat and tears from a team of creative collaborators to make your book and support services happen.

The Innovation Solution Center team provides book publishers and authors with information and services that help them birth really good books and customer-centered products and services! Here are some common publishing terms to make your publishing adventure simpler.

Book Editing

Editing a book can include light or heavy editing of an original book manuscript or text using electronic files such as Microsoft Word. Book editing does not include rewriting or original text. There are three levels of book editing:
1. conceptual, (broad book concept, completeness, table of contents review)
2. content (terminology, consistency)
3. text editing (fixing grammar and spelling).

Book Cover Design

Book covers are the "marketing packaging" for the book. Beauty is not the first consideration for book cover design if profitability is the goal. Key words, testamonials, description of the book's contents, credibility of the author, target market information, retail requirements such as bar codes and ISBN numbers and visual appeal of the book cover are all part of the art and craft of book design. Both the marketing/promotional writer and the designer work with a publisher to determine and test the key elements of a successful book cover design. Cover design of both nonfiction and fiction books is a highly specialized and critical part of the book's sales success. Key feedback about the book's design from publishing field reps, librarians, booksellers and publicists can help prevent mistakes and maximize market impact.

Book Design

Designing the inside pages of a book includes research into the potential reader niche for the book, and a range of concepts presented as rough template pages to allow the publisher and promotion team to provide market feedback. The final design is usually turned into final comps with which to test and refine the approved book design. This book template can include items such as chapter pages, frontmatter, index pages, bibliography, illustration pages, forms, text illustrations and tables, order form...and other innovative ingredients.

Book Illustration

Book illustration is moving more toward digital originals and computer image management. Book illustration can contain a combination of traditional and computer line art, coloration and refinements of original or clip art. Every illustrator has specialty skills and visual styles of book illustration. Production capabilities and cost greatly affect format, platform and style of illustration selected to make your book highly marketable and cost effective.

Photo Illustration

Photo processing for printed books (and e-books), as well as retouching of digital images (such as digital photos, scans of original photographs. Print formatting of color images requires high resolution (288+dpi), CMYK images. Grayscale images require even higher resolution. Line illustrations in books require high resolution bipmapped images or EPS line art.

Book Layout

Inside book pages are finalized most often in a page layout program such as Quark Xpress or Adobe InDesign. It is more cost effective when all book content is approved and delivered to the layout artist before starting book layout. Approved photographs, illustrations, and text using the approved design template are carefully spaced, proofed and tested with the book printer before release for production. Most production artwork for books is delivered by electronically by FTP or CD/DVD in both raw and PDF formats. A printout of the book also helps the book printer to check the large files for digital accuracy.

Book Print Bids

Print bits for books require that the production manager define printing specifications, obtain client approval of specs and submit them to selected book printers. Book printers differ from local job shop printers in the kinds of equipment they use to print and assemble such large documents. Preparing an analysis of bids for client decisions takes into consideration turnaround time, quality of printing, binding and finishing, delivery charges, and over/under charges. An experienced book "Production Manager" can help infrequent print buyers manage these highly detailed choices and project management steps. The Printer's "CSR" - Customer Service Rep-- is also very helpful in working through all the details and changes that happen in a book project of this size and scope.

Print Management

Book print and production management includes gathering all requirements and book materials together required for submitting approved files to client-selected production facility -- and monitoring the pre-production progress. Once the book project goes on press, the printing process can include a press check with client and quality check of the finished book and support materials upon delivery. Print management of books also includes negotiating the many things that can change or go wrong in this totally custom process called "printing".

Book Press Check with Client

Attending the printing and/or production run of a book with a client to check print quality and accuracy is sometimes possible. Long distances can preclude this step -- and a printing proof of the flat sheets or untrimmed book can be overnighted to the production manager and/or client for approval. Changes made to the pages of the book at this stage -- beyond mistakes by the printer -- are very expensive. An experienced production manager will make recommendation to the client for approval, modification or rejection of print runs. These vary widely based on the price and quality level set by the client and agreed to by the specialized book printer.

Book Binding and Finishing Management

Most book printing companies have some bindery facilities inhouse, but specialty processes are outsourced to specialized trade facilities. Special book cover techniques such as foil stamping, embossing, varnishing or lamination, can lengthen delivery time because these special processes frequently require more handling, and outsourcing to distant facilities. If delivery schedules are critical, be careful about which special finishes are chosen, and ask specifically if the printer selected will be handling these finishing processed in-house where they can control the quality and schedule.

Bindery Press Check with Client

Few clients request a bindery or finishing "press check." Instead, a blank page production sample (dummy book) is created early in the process and approved by the production manager and client. These production samples of the book are checked for bindery quality and strength, as well as accuracy and visual appeal. Early detection of potential problems is critical because the whole book job can be ruined with this one last small process. A book production manager can provide guidelines to the client for approval, modification or rejection of bindery runs.

Shipping Management of Books

Book runs average 500 to 3,000 copies these days. Even 3,000 books take up a lot of inventory space. Coordination of packaging the books in cartons (specified number of books per carton), palletization, along with individual packaging such as slip sheeting or shrinkwrapping and shipping container specifications are part of the shipping and inventory plan. Arrangement for shipping the inventory from production facilities can include partial or staggered shipments to a fulfillment warehouse, distributors, wholesalers, authors, publisher and publicist.

One of the best resource centers for independent publishers is The Publishers Marketing Association. Carolyn Allen has been a member for years and has helped start two local affiliates of this now international association of first time as well as experienced independent publishers. Find this informative organization's web site at