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Man With a Lot of Questions

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  • Man With a Lot of Questions

    I'm way out of my league here with tech questions, and really don't know alot about this field. I'm getting out of the Army soon, and while in Iraq, I kept reading silly reprints of historical works that drove me insane, limited commentary, poor cover designs, and so on. I stared at the books for a good while, and figured I could make them, at least the paperbacks. I hit up the Library of Congress for research while on leave, have a plethora of research material, am currently making maps, and even started making a few audiobooks. This is turning into a great hobby, and now that my date for leaving the army is leaving, I'm going to need a printing machine. I can print the pages I want easily enough on cheap printers black and white, they look good, and figure a standard wood cutting machine can cut the paper itself for shaping it. I looked at several books, and have a few good glues that look similar. I got photos and art work as well. All I really need is a printer capable of printing paperback covers.

    This has been a nightmare in figuring out. Printers seem to jump from US $600 (cheap, useless ones) to $1500 up to $30,000, and the more likely it seems to be able to print out the covers, the more insanely expensive it becomes, if they even bother to list the price. More often than not, they instead list how progressive their management and business plan is, and not tell me how much to expect it to be. And if I get a sales rep, they get confused, and offer me something completely unnecessarily. I'm expecting to make maybe 200-400 covers a month, IF THAT. I do not need to buy a 50,000 dollar machine with rollers and assembly lines. I'm not even certain if I want to start a For-Profit company, may just make library editions for a few years as a hobby. I want something for a small room, to be stored next to a kayak and a bicycle. And under 7000 dollars.

    I thought about internet web 2 print, but for my personality, it's out of the question. I have ideas that pester me in the middle of the night, if I have an idea, I want to test it out, then and there. I try to be innovative. I want twenty prototypes of a edition (a edition who's final run may only be 40 books) to lay out, one next to the other, and have creative control over as much as possible. Web 2 Print just can't do this, unless the business was next door, and if it was next door, I would likely just work for them, experimenting on my off time.

    There are two printers I zeroed in on, but given my ignorance of printing, I feel I may be way off. One is the Docucolor 242. It has 2400 X 2400 DPI, and is designed for making booklets and brouchers. It says it can fold, but I got a feeling it won't fold a paperback cover, and probably wouldn't even bother it with it, afraid it would mess it up, and would fold it myself. I can't decide if it's going to be able to handle the paper though. I'm not worried about pages per minute or how many a month, for as I said before, this is to be used for paperback covers, and will be a very low quantity at that. However, I do want quality. I don't want to be embarrassed with the finial product.

    The other one is DOCUCOLOR 12 COPIER. Why I want this, I really don't know. Looks like a useless office copier to me in all honesty, but it has a fiery and is somewhat similar to a Docucolor 242, and more importantly, I've been able to get a price on it (Xerox keeps demanding a company before they give me a pricing for the 242, I don't have a company yet, and won't until I own one of these, and experiment for a while, deciding then if I want to go the profit or non-profit route)

    It has 600 x 600 DPI, which is well below the 242. I do not know what a book cover needs, but I figure the more, the better, unless your picture for the cover is crappy, then it will be shown as extraordinarily crappy..... at least, that's what I figure.

    I like the bigger I Gens, but they are way to expensive, and too big. They are like a 18 wheeler designed to haul heavy freight on a daily basis, I'm just looking for a small pick-up. Small is good. Affordable is good to. Straight forewardness is good too, nobody has given me this.
    I visited a few paper manufacturers as well. Any recommendations on who to buy from. I'll be staying in the Pittsburg, PA to Columbus, Ohio area for a while before moving elsewhere (haven't decided yet) so pretty much anything in the lower 48 would be good.

  • #2
    Re: Man With a Lot of Questions

    I'd say don't buy the equivalent of a washer-dryer as the compromises for both just won't be worth it. Unless you can afford the best in the world; IGEN ) IMO which is basically an amazing printer with an excellent binder stuck on the end so no compromise there! Best to get the best printer you can afford that also prints heavy enough cardstock for your covers with a speed you are happy with. You can separately buy a binder - I don't know much about binders but I have seen a bindomatic doing its thing and they do a great job.


    • #3
      Re: Man With a Lot of Questions

      Hi Brandon,

      Just a suggestion to add to the confusion. If you're after 200-400 books/covers per month you may be better off just getting an "On Demand" printer to do it for you.

      Many of them have iGens to produce your work on it. I'd recommend someone who does 'celloglazing' aswell which is a seamless lamination process which can either be very high gloss or very matt finish which will protect your covers from wear and tear. So it will be a better quality result and way better protection.

      Digital printing, in many cases, is very prone to 'cracking' along folds and so having a cover without any lamination can mean quality/longevity issues.

      The other option for coating is UV coatings. Celloglazing may be better...get input from the print provider (if you decide to take this route).

      You may find that they'd even be able to 'perfect bind' it for you. (Perfect binding is the term used to describe the 'paper-back' books).

      The benefit of outsourcing are:

      • Buy one book at a time (as a prototype or for example for selling)
      • No costly outlay for equipment
      What if you get the machine and it doesn't do what you want. Or has limited scope and you need to buy another one as your "not-for" or "for-profit" company matures and grows
      • No HEADACHES with trying to get the equipment you have, to do what you want.
      • Don't have to worry about technology hurdles. (Installing new drivers, print head maintenance, bindary equipment maintenance, long list etc)

      Not having to spend $7000 on a project that you're not sure if you want to make it profit or not-for-profit. That's a biggy. (put that into a Gondola, Supercharger or Holiday - you've certainly earned one!)

      If it becomes commercially viable then you still may want to work with a print provider and negotiate better rates since you bring them more work etc. However all you'll really have to focus on is the content of the books.

      Another option again is []

      Not sure if you've seen them yet.

      You can get a 400 page full colour - Hard Cover - Image Wrap on cover for $72.95 plus shipping. We're talking Coffee table quality book!

      Not only that you can make your book public and sell it on their site for people to purchase. Once a person purchases it, will produce the one off book for that customer, so you never have to worry about stock control, re-prints. You can download FREE software for creating the book on your computer (mac or pc).

      Millions of dollars worth of the best print equipment goes into making your product.

      (I've yet to order one, however I'm waiting on a friends wedding photo's to arrive so I can make them a coffee table book.)

      Then all you have to do is focus on your product. The quality of your content. Marketing you product. Blogging about it, etc

      However, I do know what it's like to get an idea in your head and not feeling content until you really sink your teeth into it : )

      Good luck and I'm sure there will be many others to offer advice...

      BTW, I don't have shares in or are any way associated with them. In fact I'm in Australia, so I can't help you with your printing. (we don't even do 'on demand' - strictly commercial printing)

      Good Luck with your endeavours Brandon, I hope it all goes well!


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