After two years of producing electronic adventure books I developed an itch to hold them in my hands. Thus the romantic idea of printing an old fashioned hand-held book took root. Since this process is rather lengthy I will publish it in pieces.
The process required that I learn from trial and error at many steps along the way. One of the first steps is to decide upon the output format. This choice depends upon several factors: page count, color, size, cost and most importantly…would it be possible for me to do myself? The answers to these questions were arrived at after research and experimentation.
Our adventure modules are likely to fall in the 48 to 100 page range. This instantly ruled out a saddle stitched (a stapled binding) because they tend not to be stable past 80 pages. Perfect bound (this binding is like a magazine, the pages are folded and glued into sections called signatures) and ring bound (or comb binding as it is called, like a college ruled paper notebook in many ways) met the page count parameters.
Color output could be done for any format, though it invariable costs more. Since our products are delivered electronically, they always contain full color. I wanted the printed product to follow suit for consistency.
If you were to print one of our pdf’s you would find that they take up the a whole letter sized page with a full bleed. To do this in a book means creating signature pages that are 12 x 18 inches and trimming down to 11 x 17 inches for all three output formats.
Cost turned out to be less of a deciding factor as both ring bound and perfect bound were very similar per unit.
However, a comb binding system required investing in a binder, which started at a few hundred dollars plus supplies like the comb bindings. Whereas, for about $20 in lumber, plexi-glass, nuts and bolts I could make my own jig for a perfect bound book.
So it turned out that perfect bound books met all of my requirements. The next stage required an overhaul of the original Indesign pdf files. Turns out that creating a four page signature was mentally quite challenging. In the end I created the cover manually with Indesign. The interior pages I used a stand alone product called Imposition 3.0. Let me just say that the documentation and method of delivery were one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. However, after a steep learning curve I managed to get it to do exactly what I needed.
The end result after printing the signatures brought me much joy. I will discuss the binding process in my next article with more photographs I snapped along the way.